Minnesota moves closer to choosing new state flag to replace design offensive to Native Americans


MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A state commission selected a basic design concept Friday for new state flag minnesota To change the existing banner considered offensive for Native Americans, but will require more time to finalize.

The final choice came down to two templates. The panel had a stylized dark blue figure of Minnesota on the left side, with an eight-pointed white North Star, then horizontal stripes or a solid field on the right side.

The commission then decided to consider variants on that theme when it met again on Tuesday, including an asymmetric Minnesota that looks like the state’s actual shape, and either a solid light blue area on the right, or Adding a green stripe at the bottom to symbolize the agricultural heritage of the state.

“Let’s marinate them for a few days. I think that’s important,” said Commission Chairman Louis Fitch. “And then let’s hear what the public and the people of the state of Minnesota have to say.”

The second-place finisher featured a pair of curved “swooshes” – one white and one light blue – symbolizing the confluence of Minnesota and mississippi Rivers on a dark blue background with the North Star in the upper left corner. To some, the swish loon was even considered the official state bird. But panelists opted for a design with straight, simple lines.

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None of the finalist designs increased the public’s enthusiasm already. Fitch admitted that he urged his colleagues to think about what design might be accepted by future generations.

Fitch said, “We’re not going to be able to please everybody. The whole idea for me from day one was to make sure we could create a flag that unites us, not separates us.”

current flag of minnesota is included state seal On blue background. The seal depicts a Native American walking off into the sunset, while a white settler leaning on a nearby stump with his rifle is plowing his field. The imagery suggests to many that the indigenous people were defeated and leaving, while the whites won and were staying.

Not only do the state’s Dakota and Ojibwe tribes consider it offensive, but experts in the scientific and scholarly study of flags – known as vexillology – say it is an overly complex design.

guidelines from North American Vexillological Association Suppose flags should be simple but meaningful, with only a few colors, easily recognizable from a distance, and without seals or letters. Ideally, a child should be able to make it. The group ranked Minnesota 67th out of 72 U.S. and Canadian state and provincial flags. The Minnesota design dates to 1957, evolving from the 1893 original.

commission – which includes members of the state’s tribal and other communities of color – was tasked with creating new designs For the flag and seal by January 1. Unless the Legislature rejects them, the new symbols automatically become official on April 1, 2024, which Minnesota celebrates as statehood day.

The commission decided earlier in the week on a new seal that included a loon and the Dakota name for Minnesota: Mni Sota Makose, which can be translated as “where the water meets the sky.”

Minnesota is joining many other states Redesigning old flags. utah The Legislature approved a simplified flag design last winter that still includes a beehive, symbolizing the prosperity and industriousness of the Mormon pioneers who settled the state. Mississippi voters chose in 2020 New state flag with magnolia And the phrase “In God We Trust” was used to replace a Confederate-themed flag that was used by Ku Klux Klan groups and widely condemned as racist.

Other states considering simplifying their flags include Maine, where voters will decide next year whether to change their existing banner with a retro version Featuring a simple pine tree and the blue North Star, as well as michigan And Illinois.

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