Minnesota State Flag Change: Racism + Unoriginality Cited In The Push For A Revision
Maybe you've never given it much thought. If not, you're giving credence to one of the reasons cited as part of the movement to change the Minnesota State Flag - a movement that's not new, but is gaining significant ground in the last week.
This past week the Minnesota House State Government Committee saw action on the issue as a bill to change the state flag was presented on March 22. A party line vote advanced the measure on to the House Ways and Means Committee - progress on an idea that first came up 33 years ago in 1989.
So why the call for change? And - why now?
Critics of the Minnesota State Flag cite two main problems with it: It's lack of originality and it's "unmemorable" nature, and it's depiction of images that could be construed in a racial way in 2022.
The current state flag for Minnesota was adopted by the state Legislature in 1957. Speaking generally, the flag depicts the Minnesota State Seal set against a blue background. That seal is hard to see from a distance - something that critics would more than likely argue is a good thing. It also leads to a general appearance that doesn't stand out; or, as Lee Harold - the designer of a 1989 submitted replacement flag shares: "He's seen the current [Minnesota State Flag] fly upside down at the Capitol and across the street at the senate office building; no one even notices; if the U.S. flag was flying upside down they'd get calls."
Perhaps, though what's driving the current call for a change is the "19th century imagery" and symbolism - detailing "white Europeans driving out the land's original Native inhabitants." The flag - with the seal - "depicts a white farmer tilling the soil with a gun leaning against a nearby stump as a Native American horse rider gallops nearby in his direction."
Upper Sioux Community Chair Kevin Jensvold explains:
"Everybody's entitled to their interpretation and in the interpretation of the Yellow Medicine Dakota is that it's offensive. We're well aware of the punishment inflicted on our ancestors and that seal itself is a reminder. You see a clear divide between the plowed field and the natural environment. And the firearm, the gun that leans against the stump? What does that represent to a logical human being? There has to be some mistrust construed by that symbol."
So what's next?
If the current bill continues to get approved on its march towards becoming law, it would eventually "create a committee to develop a new design for the state flag and state seal and report back to the Legislature and Governor." Along the way, any new redesign would require public feedback, input, and suggestions.
In other words - while there is a bill making its way through the Legislature to make a change, Minnesota State Flag owners probably don't need to put in an order for a newly-redesigned one anytime soon.