Minnesota Reveals New State Flag Design

Submitted by a 24-year-old Minnesotan, the updated flag is expected to fly on May 11

Navy blue and light blue flag with a white star
The final design is a modified version of a submission by 24-year-old Andrew Prekker. State Emblems Redesign Commission / Minnesota Historical Society

After sifting through more than 2,600 submissions, Minnesota’s State Emblems Redesign Commission has decided on a new state flag. The left side of the design features a North Star on a navy blue background resembling the state’s K-shape, while the right side is a solid light blue.

The final design is a simplified version of one submitted by 24-year-old Minnesotan Andrew Prekker. It will replace an older flag widely criticized for its complicated composition and offensive imagery.

“Among the many emotions I’m feeling, the strongest are a sense of honor, privilege, excitement and gratitude,” says Prekker in a statement. “It’s such a rare privilege to be able to contribute to our state’s history in such a special way like this.”

Prekker drew inspiration from “other state flags known for their simplicity, memorability and popularity, such as Arizona, Texas, New Mexico and Colorado,” he tells MPR News’ Dana Ferguson.

Adopted in 1957, the old state flag depicts the Minnesota state seal on a blue background. The seal shows a farmer plowing a field, his rifle leaning against a tree, while a Native American man rides a horse toward the sun in the background. Critics say that this design “suggests a people being driven out,” per the Rochester Post Bulletin’s Matthew Stolle.

“It is my greatest hope that this new flag can finally represent our state and all its people properly,” Prekker adds in the statement. “That every Minnesotan of every background—including the Indigenous communities and tribal nations who’ve been historically excluded—can look up at our flag with pride and honor.”

Pekker’s submission was chosen from six finalists. His original design, which officials have tweaked, included white, green and light blue stripes symbolizing snow, agriculture and water. The commission voted to replace the stripes with a solid light blue, as water is “Minnesota’s distinctive and defining feature,” Prekker tells the New York Time’s Livia Albeck-Ripka.

Luis Fitch, the commission’s chairman, tells the Associated Press’ Steve Karnowski that to him, the light blue represents the Mississippi River, “the most important river in the United States,” though he also admits that the color can have different meanings for different people. The star, on the other hand, clearly refers to Minnesota’s state motto of “L’etoile du Nord,” meaning “Star of the North.”

Despite the fact that members of the North American Vexillological Association, which studies and rates flags, told the commission that the new design is among the best in the country, not everyone is happy with the results .

“This process should have taken a lot longer,” says Representative Bjorn Olson, a Republican legislator who served as a nonvoting member of the commission, to the Star Tribune’s Briana Bierschbach. “We should have taken more public testimony; we should have heard from more Minnesotans.” Olson and another nonvoting member have said they would like to organize a public vote on the final design, though this plan’s feasibility is unclear.

In addition to the new flag, the commission also chose a new state seal that features the state bird, the loon, in “a pose that signifies pride and energy,” per the commission’s website. It also includes other elements symbolizing “agriculture of today and of Native American tribes” and the state’s “abundance of lakes.” (Minnesota is, after all, known as the land of 10,000 lakes.) The final design includes the words “Mni Sóta Makoc̣e” which is Dakota for “land where the waters reflect the sky,” per the Star Tribune.

The commission must submit the new designs to the Legislature and governor by January 1. Barring a legislative veto, both designs will be adopted on May 11, 2024, Minnesota’s Statehood Day.

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