Minnesota changes its state flag Saturday. But why?

Minnesota changes its state flag Saturday. But why?

Minnesota Adopts New Flag: Understanding the Change

Minnesota Adopts New Flag: Understanding the Change

Minnesota's new flag officially went into use on Saturday, sparking curiosity about why the state adopted a new emblem. The controversial replacement of the old flag necessitates an explanation of its history.

The State Emblems Redesign Commission was established by the legislature during the 2023 session to redesign Minnesota's flag and seal. The decision to change the flag stemmed from concerns about the scene depicted on the old flag, which many found offensive. First adopted in 1957, the flag portrayed a White settler tilling land as an Indigenous man rides horseback. Indigenous members of the State Emblem Redesign Commission deemed it harmful to their communities and perpetuating the "erasure" of their people from the land.

Governor Tim Walz emphasized the need for a more inclusive flag, stating, "Our current flag is problematic. I think we all know that. We've evolved into a more diverse state and I think it's more reflective of that." Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan, a member of the White Earth Band of Ojibwe, refused to use the old flag.

The offensive nature of the design had been previously recognized. In 1983, the state seal and flag underwent slight modifications. While the pre-1983 version depicted the Indigenous figure riding away from the settler, the modified version angled the rider slightly toward them.

According to state statute, the new design was required to "accurately and respectfully reflect Minnesota's shared history, resources, and diverse cultural communities." The statute also prohibited symbols, emblems, or likenesses representing only a single community or person from being included in the design.

Critics also pointed out aesthetic flaws in the old flag, noting its violation of principles of "good flag design" as defined by the North American Vexillological Association. Speaker of the Minnesota House of Representatives Melissa Hortman underscored the significance of the change, stating, "We changed the flag for a reason. In addition to it being a poor design, it was offensive to a large number of people."

Despite attempts by some Republican state lawmakers to halt the rollout of the new flag, their efforts were unsuccessful in the Democrat-controlled legislature.

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