A New State Flag, and What It Means

Minnesota, the North Star State, has long had a state seal and flag that depict a pioneer and an Indian, along with other elements appropriate to the state and its history:

The Minnesota flag is simply the seal on a plain background. The seal and flag have come under attack as “racist,” on the ground that the Indian is riding away, having been chased out by settlers. As Bill Walsh shows, this interpretation is incorrect. The legislation that authorized the current version of the seal says:

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.

Nevertheless, the “racism” narrative has dominated discussion of the seal and the flag and has led to a current legislatively-mandated redesign. A committee was appointed and solicited designs from Minnesota residents. Several thousand such designs were submitted, and a handful of finalists have now been selected. Here are the state flag finalists:

To describe these designs as uninspired would be charitable. They look more like corporate logos. Minnesota’s history is absent–and so, by the way, is the Indian. The easiest way to deal with “problematic” images is to erase them entirely.

Minnesota’s new state seal and flag are not very important in themselves, but they represent one small step in the deliberate forgetting of our nation’s history.

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