A New Flag for Minnesota?

PRE-NOTE: I have made additions to the posts for August 11 (Lahaina), August 22 (Ukraine) and August 24 (Stairs).  Access through archive at right on this page.


A current important issue in Minnesota is the design of the Minnesota state emblem.  More on that below.

One week ago I was at Huot MN, a few miles west of Red Lake Falls on the Red Lake River in northwest Minnesota.  The occasion was the annual chautauqua & French-Canadian/Metis Festival of AFRAN (Association of the French of the North), a group with a history going back to 1981.

Centerpiece of the Festival was a hand-made Red River Oxcart – the vehicle which facilitated earliest white settlement of what is now the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul from Pembina and points north and west in the early and middle 1800s.

Red River Oxcart at Old Treaty Crossing, Huot MN, August 26, 2023.  Cart handmade to original 1800s cart specifications by Ed, Dan and Owen Jerome. Ed Jerome (Hallock MN, in photo) was the Master Craftsman in making this cart and taught the skill to his cousins, Dan & Owen at Turtle Mountain ND.

The August 26-27 event was at what is now referred to as the Old Crossing Treaty Park.  A short walk from the above photo was the actual Red Lake river oxcart crossing access, now a public boat launching area.

Boat launch/landing at Old Crossing, Huot MN
August 26, 2023

The Treaty referred to was concluded in 1863, and is briefly described here: Huot Crossing Trtyt 1863001.


This years event at Old Crossing dovetailed with an important initiative which will be discussed this fall in Minnesota, in preparation for consideration by the 2024 Minnesota Legislature, and   is defined in the 2-page legislation titled “State Emblems Redesign Commission”: Minnesota Flag Redesign 2023.

Information about the Redesign Commission is here, and will doubtless be updated frequently.

There are an abundance of opinions about the Minnesota Flag, which has seen a number of renditions since statehood in 1858.  A good general history of the flag can be read here.  More general information about flags, generally, can be read here.

PERSONAL OBSERVATIONS: I learned of the Flag Redesign proposal early in 2023.  I hadn’t known of it before.  I knew little about the Minnesota flag history, but do know the history of flags, generally, and their relationship to power, and the tensions between natives and white settlers in this area as the United States expanded.

Minnesota became a state in 1858, and before and after came all of the assorted transactions that ultimately resulted in the United States in which we live today.  We are no longer in 1858.  165 years later, what the flag will be, is going to be debated.  It will be an interesting conversation.

I felt, and feel, that the Commission is a good idea, regardless of what it reports out.  This commission mandates representation of native constituency groups.

Early on, I thought my friend, Virgil Benoit, who also organized the Old Crossing event I attended August 26, had  a well thought out position on the flag issue.  You can read his comment here: Virgil Benoit on Mn Flag and Seal (2).

I was also struck by the design of the logo of Virgil’s organization, which would make a very appropriate description of Minnesota of today.

August 26, 2023, at Old Crossing Event, Huot MN.


September 2, 2023, the Minneapolis Star Tribune had a front page article about the issue. Minnesota Flag Redesign Star Trib Sep 2 2023


from Jeff: I think there was an article in either the WaPo or the NYT recently on the issue of state flag redesigns.   Interesting read.  There is alot of it going on , as it is deemed branding now.

response from Dick: I really don’t follow this stuff very closely, and learned about it at a meeting perhaps in February.  It had apparently come up in a prior legislative session and failed.  Some dust was kicked up about it.  I sent around the wording of the Law relating to the members of commission, to which one responded “My eyes must need correcting…I don’t see any European Americans on that list.”  If you look at the committee list, 5 of the 13 are specifically for persons of color.

I would suspect that in previous decisions about the flag there was no such allowance to specifically give non-white folks actual representation.

It will be very interesting to see what results by January.

Here’s a picture of the current symbol, from the xrmap flag collection 2.7, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

from Mary Ellen: Our northern neighbor, Canada, adopted its maple leaf flag in 1965. Before that the flag was a field of red with the Union Jack in one corner and symbols of Canada in the opposite corner.

I hope Minnesota can find an equally successful new design. It is time.






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