Minnesota is in the midst of a creative endeavor to redefine its state flag, engaging its residents in the process. With more than 2,600 submissions from Minnesotans, the state is exploring a fresh set of symbols to encapsulate its identity, featuring its abundant lakes and distinctive wildlife, notably loons.
The existing state flag has faced criticism for its portrayal of an Indigenous American on horseback at the center of the seal, seen by some as referencing the displacement of native communities throughout the state’s history. In response, the Minnesota state legislature, in May 2023, passed a bill to redesign both the flag and the seal with the guidance of a State Emblems Redesign Commission (SERC).
The SERC, consisting of 13 voting members, is tasked with selecting designs that “accurately and respectfully reflect Minnesota’s shared history, resources, and diverse cultural communities.” The public submission period concluded on October 30, and the commission aims to finalize its choice by the end of the year. If approved by the legislature in the spring of 2024, the new symbols will represent the North Star State.
Philip McKenzie, a member of the Minnesota State Arts Board and SERC, highlights the importance of simplicity and symbolism in a flag, emphasizing that the chosen design should be inclusive and clear. While a state seal typically symbolizes the government, the state flag is envisioned as a symbol for the people, reflecting the collective identity and values of Minnesota.
The redesign initiative demonstrates a commitment to acknowledging and respecting the state’s rich history and cultural diversity. The thoughtful and inclusive selection process is viewed as an opportunity to create a Minnesota state flag that truly resonates with its residents and captures the essence of the North Star State.