Minnesotans had lots of ideas regarding their new state flag, which they shared in more than 2,600 submissions for the upcoming redesign. A wide range of participants—from artists to young Minnesotans armed with crayons—threw their hats into the ring.
Many submissions were serious, featuring state symbols and demonstrating artistic talent. Loons and North Stars were especially common motifs (including this laser-eyed loon). Others celebrated the state in a less-than-serious style. For instance, one submission depicts a plate of hotdish in the middle of the state seal. Another is a simple photo of a dog.
One entry even referenced a historic battle flag that Minnesotan soldiers took from Virginian forces during the Battle of Gettysburg, placing the words “Capture the flag champions” over an image of the scarred flag.
Last week, Minnesota’s State Emblems Redesign Commission spent hours sifting through this expansive list before selecting six finalists, report CBS News Minnesota’s Caroline Cummings and Anthony Bettin. They also chose five designs for the new state seal.
The names of the designers will be announced after they have been contacted, according to a statement from the Minnesota Historical Society (MNHS).
“We are distilling a wealth of excellent ideas,” Luis Fitch, the chair of the commission, said at the start of the process on November 21, according to the Star Tribune’s Briana Bierschbach. “We are in the process of crafting—not just choosing—a new flag and seal.”
Work on the flag began over the summer, with a goal of unfurling the new banner by Statehood Day on May 11, 2024. Minnesota’s current flag, which features the state seal on a blue background, has long faced criticism for its complicated design and offensive imagery. Part of the commission’s goal has been to simplify the flag to bring it in line with best practices for good flag design; it also aims to create separate flag and seal designs for the state.
Commission members are also focused on the staying power of their new picks. “I think that’s what is going to make it very difficult for us,” says Fitch to MPR News’ Dana Ferguson, adding that the new design will have to account for what’s trendy now while also remaining relevant for future generations.
The six finalist designs share some commonalities: “All of them have a star, a nod to the state's motto ‘L’Étoile du Nord,’ and some shade of blue for the land of 10,000 lakes,” writes CBS News Minnesota. The state seal picks also showcase stars and the motto.
While loons appeared in many submissions, they are mostly absent from the finalists, though the birds do appear in one of the chosen seal designs. The commission’s selections will form the basis of the new flag and seal, though the designs may be modified, according to MNHS.
The commission is accepting input from the public on its website. The deadline for final versions of the flag and seal is January 1, 2024, and unless the state legislature vetoes them, they will be adopted in May.
“It’s been moving at a rapid pace, but it’s been fun to take Minnesotans along for the ride,” vice chair Anita Gaul told reporters ahead of the meeting last week, per CBS News Minnesota.
Editor’s note, November 27, 2023: This story has been updated with new information regarding the commission’s feedback process.