May 10, 2024 - News

Minnesota's new state flag takes flight

state flag blue on blue

Under state law, the switch to the new design will happen on May 11, Statehood Day. Image courtesy of the State Emblems Redesign Commission

Minnesota's new state flag officially takes flight this weekend.

Why it matters: The high-profile makeover, which turned heads and unfurled hot takes across the state and nation, marks the first major redesign of the state's flag in over 100 years.

The big picture: Unlike before, we'll actually be able to tell ours apart from the dozen other states with flags that feature a detailed emblem on a blue field.

State of the masts: The new blue-on-blue banner will be raised at several state sites for the first time at sunrise on Saturday.

  • The Minnesota National Guard will retire the outgoing banners and give them to the Minnesota Historical Society.

Catch up fast: The state Legislature created a commission last year to redesign the flag and seal in response to criticism that the old imagery was a "cluttered genocidal mess."

  • The old flag, designed in 1893 and last tweaked in the 1950s, depicted a Native American riding away on horseback with a farmer in the foreground.

Inside the room: The commission, appointed by the governor and legislative leaders, spent months narrowing down more than 2,000 public submissions (including a very good dog and a laser-eyed loon).

Friction point: While many of us probably couldn't have picked the old flag out of a lineup, everyone had an opinion on what the new one should look like — and whether it should change at all.

What they're saying: Ted Kaye, secretary of the North American Vexillological Association, gives the final design an A+.

  • "It's different from all other U.S. state flags and actually most flags that I've seen," he told WCCO. "This special stylized form of the state is a very unusual flag design element."

The other side: Critics of the new design say it's too simple and doesn't contain enough symbolic imagery. Some argue the old flag was fine.

  • More than 70% of respondents to a February KSTP poll said they thought the state should revert to the old flag or pick a new design.
  • GOP lawmakers and groups who argue that the old flag was fine have called for a reversal or redo. The state Republican Party went as far as to launch "don't PC our flag" merch.

Yes, but: The state law directing the redesign dictated that the flag would be adopted on May 11, Statehood Day, unless the Legislature opted to veto the design.

  • Leaders at the DFL-majority Legislature say they like it.

The bottom line: We're all amateur vexillologists now.


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