Minnesota Has Been Trying to Change Its State Flag to Remove Its Offensive Imagery

Callie (Carlos) Cadorniga - Author

Dec. 18 2023, Published 12:01 p.m. ET

The Gist:

  • Citizens of Minnesota have been calling for the state flag to be changed for years.
  • The movement gained new traction in 2022.
  • Concepts for the new flag were revealed at the end of 2023.
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Over the past decade or so, there have been movements in several parts of the United States for cities and states to take down their historical monuments. Many of the monuments in question — i.e., statues, street names, and other such landmarks — were placed centuries ago and made to memorialize historical figures who actively contributed to America's long-running bouts of racism and bigotry.

As racial violence and prejudice continue to plague the country to this day, many believe that it's important to ensure that imagery that glorifies racial violence is addressed and even removed as needed.

That sentiment has even been extended to state flags, many of which depict racist imagery on their banners.

To that end, Minnesota is one such state whose flag has been a point of contention for many years. In 2023, the movement to change its flag has made serious headway.

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The original design for the Minnesota State Flag
Source: Getty Images

The State of Minnesota wants to change its flag for good reason.

You might be surprised to know that the Minnesota flag has long been considered one of the worst flag designs in the United States. In 2001, an online poll of United States flag designs placed Minnesota's in the bottom 10.

It was already perceived negatively throughout the country, but the design itself evokes a revisionist depiction of Minnesota's racist background.

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In the early 2010s, a movement to change the flag's imagery began gaining some traction. The seal depicts a Native American man on horseback riding away from farmland that is being tended to by a white man, almost directly evoking the state's history of displacing Native Americans in the name of colonization.

With the state flag having been criticized for both poor design and racist imagery, a change was almost inevitable. However, it wouldn't truly come about until the 2020s.

In March of 2022, Minnesota lawmakers officially began their efforts to redesign the flag. Several state lawmakers and members of Minnesota's indigenous councils were assembled to begin developing and presenting new concepts for a new state flag.

More than a year later in December 2023, the concept designs were formally unveiled.

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The new aesthetic for the flag draws more closely from L'Étoile du Nord (The North Star), Minnesota's official motto and moniker. Some redesign candidates include the star placed with blue, white, and green colors to represent the sky, clouds, and forest. Some feature simple straight lines while others depict stylish "swooshes" with the aforementioned color scheme.

Unsurprisingly, none of the new flag designs depict people on it, let alone depict the state's racist history.

As of this writing, the selection committee settled on a design featuring the North Star on a dark blue background with three distinct straight lines of white, green, and blue on top of each other. After receiving public input, Minnesota's new flag will be implemented on Jan. 1, 2024.

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