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Minnesota (U.S.)

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[Flag of Minnesota] by Mario Fabretto, 24 February 1998

Municipal flags:

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In 1858, a star was added, representing Minnesota, bringing the total number of stars on the U.S. flag to 32. There were thirteen stripes representing the thirteen original colonies.

Legal Description

Minnesota Statutes
1.141 Official state flag.
Subdivision 3. Description. The design of the flag shall conform substantially to the following description:

The staff is surmounted by a bronze eagle with outspread wings; the flag is rectangular in shape and is on a medium blue background with a narrow gold border and a golden fringe. A circular emblem is contained in the center of the blue field. The circular emblem is on a general white background with a yellow border. The word MINNESOTA is inscribed in red lettering on the lower part of the white field. The white emblem background surrounding a center design contains 19 five pointed stars arranged symmetrically in four groups of four stars each and one group of three stars. The latter group is in the upper part of the center circular white emblem. The group of stars at the top in the white emblem consists of three stars of which the uppermost star is the largest and represents the north star. A center design is contained on the white emblem and is made up of the scenes from the great seal of the state of Minnesota, surrounded by a border of intertwining Cypripedium reginae, the state flower, on a blue field of the same color as the general flag background. The flower border design contains the figures 1819, 1858, 1893. The coloring is the same on both sides of the flag, but the lettering and the figures appear reversed on one side.
Joe McMillan, 14 February 2000

The flag of Minnesota has the state seal in its center. Around the seal is a wreath of the state flower , the lady slipper. Three dates are woven into the wreath.
            1858 - the year Minnesota became a state,
            1819 - the year Fort Snelling was established and
            1893 - the year the official flag was adopted.
The largest star between the 19 stars on the wreath represents Minnesota.
Dov Gutterman, 7 October 1998

Shade of Blue

The correct color is royal blue. That is the color the State of Minnesota requests when purchasing. The word Minnesota comes from the Dakota (Sioux) Indian language meaning sky tinted waters, or more popularly sky blue waters. Minnesota has many lakes, 15,215 over 10 acres. Because of the lakes and sky, we have always used a lighter blue, a medium blue which is close to royal blue. This is probably the most important feature of the flag and the part most people who see the flag as beautiful react to, that and the yellow stars which are a pleasing color combination.

Although there may be a firm standard for royal blue, I have several shades of royal blue, from lighter to darker, and have found the same when ordering royal blue. Even different dye lots turn out different shades.

Lee Herold, 23 December 2001

Nineteen stars

The seal on Minnesota's flag has 19 stars (forming a large star) around it because it was the 19th state added after independence.
Nathan Bliss, 28 March 1996

Pre-1957 flag

[Flag of Minnesota]

Before 1957 the Minnesota flag was a white field with the state arms, ribbon, and stars across the field. The reverse was supposed to be plain blue. Like Massachusetts, this was very expensive to produce. In 1957 the flag was made blue (both sides) with a white disk in the center with the state arms. The 1957 design was slightly altered in the late 1980's to make the flag conform to the state seal.
Nick Artimovich, 31 July 1996

The designer of the first Minnesota flag was Mrs. Amelia Center, in 1893. It was unique in the fact that the obverse was a white field, and the reverse a blue field. In 1957 it was simplified to a blue field on both sides (& other simplifications) and in 1983 changed again. However, all based on the original design by Mrs. Center.
Lee Herold, 14 May 1997

The State legislature of 1893, by Chapter 16, provided for a state flag. Mrs. Franklyn L. Greenleaf, Mrs. A. A. White, Mrs. Edward Durant, Mrs. F.B. Clarke, Mrs. H. F. Brown and Mrs. A. T. Stebbins were by this act named a commission to select an appropriate design. This commission called for designs, and on Feb. 28, 1893 met and adopted the design presented by Mrs. Edward H. Center, of Minneapolis. Following is a description of the flag: "The ground is of white silk, and the reverse of blue silk, bordered with bullion fringe. In the center is the state seal, wreathed with white moccasin flowers, on a blue ground. The red ribbon of the seal bearing a motto is continued through the wreath, entwining the blossoms and floating carelessly over the lower portion of the flag. It bears, in gold, the dates 1819, the time of the settlement of Minnesota, and 1893. Above, also in gold, is the date 1858, the time of the admission of Minnesota to the Union. Below the design, in gold letters, is wrought 'Minnesota.' Grouped around the seal are nineteen stars in the design of star points, with the North Star, significant of the North Star State, in a group of three at the top." The choice of the number nineteen is a peculiarly happy one, as Minnesota was the nineteenth state, after the original thirteen, to be admitted to the Union. The standard (see note) to the flag was surmounted by a golden gopher, and tied with a gold cord and tassel. The execution of the design is entirely in needle work.
Ben Cahoon, 27 June 2003

Note: "Standard" in this context meaning the staff, which makes the golden gopher the finial--undoubtedly one of the few flags ever to have a rodent designated as a finial. (One of Minnesota's nicknames is the "Gopher State," and the sports teams of the University of Minnesota are known as the "Golden Gophers.")
Joe McMillan, 27 June 2003

State Seal

Minnesota Statutes
1.135 State seal.
Subdivision 3. Design. The design of the seal is as described in this subdivision.

  1. The seal is composed of two concentric borders. The outside forms the border of the seal and inside forms the border for the illustrations within the seal. The area between the two borders lettering.
  2. The seal is two inches in diameter. The outside border has a radius of one inch and resembles serrated edge of a coin. The width of the border is 1/16 of an inch.
  3. The inside border has a radius of three-fourths of an inch and is composed of a series of closely dots measuring 1/32 of an inch in diameter.
  4. Within the area between the borders "The Great Seal of the State of Minnesota" is printed in capital letters. Under that is the date "1858" with two dagger symbols separating the date and the letters. The lettering is 14-point Century Bold.
  5. In the area within the inside border is the portrayal of an 1858 Minnesota scene made up of various illustrations that serve to depict a settler plowing the ground near the falls of St. Anthony while he watches an Indian on horseback riding in the distance.
  6. For the purposes of description, when the area within the inside border is divided into quadrants, the following illustrations should be clearly visible in the area described.

    1. In the upper parts of quadrants one and two, the inscription "L'Etoile du Nord" is found on the likeness of a scroll whose length is equal to twice the length of the inscription, but whose ends are twice folded underneath and serve to enhance the inscription. The lettering is 7-point Century Bold.
    2. In quadrant two is found a likeness of a sun whose ambient rays form a background for a male Indian in loincloth and plume riding on horseback at a gallop. The Indian is sitting erect and is holding a spear in his left hand at an upward 60-degree angle to himself and is looking toward the settler in quadrant four.
    3. In quadrant one, three pine trees form a background for a picturesque resemblance of St. Anthony Falls in 1858.
    4. In quadrants three and four, cultivated ground is found across the lower half of the seal, which provides a background for the scenes in quadrants three and four.
    5. In quadrant three, a tree stump is found with an ax embedded in the stump and a period muzzle loader resting on it. A powder flask is hanging towards the end of the barrel.
    6. In quadrant four, a white barefoot male pioneer wearing clothing and a hat of that period is plowing the earth, using an animal-drawn implement from that period. The animal is not visible. The torso of the man continues into quadrant two, and he has his legs spread apart to simulate movement. He is looking at the Indian.
Subdivision 4. Additional effects; size. Every effort shall be made to reproduce the seal with justification to the 12 o'clock position and with attention to the authenticity of the illustrations used to create the scene within the seal. The description of the scene in this section does not preclude the graphic inclusion of the effects of movement, sunlight, or falling water when the seal is reproduced. Nor does this section prohibit the enlargement, proportioned reduction, or embossment of the seal for its use in unofficial acts.

Subdivision 5. Historical symbolism of seal. The sun, visible on the western horizon, signifies summer in the northern hemisphere. The horizon's visibility signifies the flat plains covering much of Minnesota. The Indian on horseback is riding due south and represents the great Indian heritage of Minnesota. The Indian's horse and spear and the Pioneer's ax, rifle, and plow represent tools that were used for hunting and labor. The stump symbolizes the importance of the lumber industry in Minnesota's history. The Mississippi River and St. Anthony Falls are depicted to note the importance of these resources in transportation and industry. The cultivated ground and the plow symbolize the importance of agriculture in Minnesota. Beyond the falls three pine trees represent the state tree and the three great pine regions of Minnesota; the St. Croix, Mississippi, and Lake Superior.

Joe McMillan, 14 February 2000

State Military Crest

by Joe McMillan, 21 April 2000

The state military crest, which is the crest used in the coats of arms of units of the National Guard, as granted by the precursor organizations of what is now the Army Institute of Heraldry. The official Institute of Heraldry blazon is "A sheaf of wheat proper."
Joe McMillan, 21 April 2000

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