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The state of Minnesota has picked a new flag, submitted by 24-year-old, Luverne-based artist Andrew Prekker for a public competition that saw hundreds of Minnesotans try their hands at vexillology. Questions regarding the colonial imagery of the state’s prior flag, initially unveiled in 1893, had prompted the search for a new design.
Prekker, following the news that his design had been chosen, said in a statement that it is his “greatest hope that this new flag can finally represent our state and all its people properly. That every Minnesotan of every background—including the Indigenous communities and tribal nations who’ve been historically excluded—can look up at our flag with pride and honour, and see themselves within it.”
While the final flag has been altered slightly from Prekker’s initial design, it retains the light blue panel symbolising the state’s lakes, notched navy blue panel representing the coastline of Lake Superior and eight-pointed northern star.
“Minnesotans have so much to be proud of from the beauty of our land, to our rivers and lakes, to our recognition as the North Star State—all of which are reflected in this flag,” Steve Simon, Minnesota’s secretary of state and a member of the State Emblem Redesign Commission that picked Prekker’s design, said in a statement. “I hope Minnesotans will find commonality in this flag and unite around it for generations to come.”
Some Minnesotans have fought the adoption of an abstract, modern flag, citing concerns of lost heritage and erasure of farmers from the central design. The image at the centre of the 1893 design—depicting a pioneer with a rifle, a farmer and a Native American on horseback with a spear—has been routinely accused of glorifying the state’s role in westward expansion and the policy of “Manifest Destiny”, a doctrine that justified the genocide and erasure of Indigenous populations in the American West. One Minnesota state representative, Mike Freiburg, described the old flag as a “cluttered genocidal mess”.
In addition to the replacement of the state flag, the State Emblem Redesign Commission also selected a replacement for the state’s seal, opting for a similarly organised symbol that replaces the pioneer, farmer and Native American with a single loon, the state bird.
Prior to the announcement of the new flag, Minnesotans participated in popular debates regarding the hundreds of proposed designs, developing fierce attachments to favourite prposals. Cult hits were as diverse as a photo of a Minnesotan’s dog in a field, drawings of laser-eyed loons and a slew of low-effort and avant-garde images. While online conversations have lamented the passing-over of so many outstanding efforts of regional artistry, the new flag has been positively received by most.