Editorial Roundup: State flag redesign long overdue for state symbol

Published 8:50 pm Tuesday, February 7, 2023

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The Minnesota flag may finally get a needed makeover.

For many years there has been a push to redesign the outdated, graphically busy and demeaning symbol of the flag, including in this space last spring.

But calls for a change were repeatedly shot down, mostly by Republicans. But with the DFL controlling all branches of state government, lawmakers have moved ahead with starting a committee to create new designs for the flag.

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The current flag shows a pioneer plowing a field, his rifle propped against a nearby stump as a Native American man on horseback rides toward a setting sun. There’s also a banner, lady slippers, St. Anthony Falls, pine trees and key dates.

Last week, GOP Sen. Steve Drazkowski suggested that rather than showing settlers driving Indians out he sees it showing “two individuals co-existing.”

But the meaning of the design, from the start, was clear. The wife of the man who designed the flag wrote a poem that said: “Give way, give way young warrior, / Thou and thy steed give way,” and goes on to say, “The rocky bluff and prairie land / The white man claims them now, / The symbols of his course are here, / The rifle, axe and plough.”

So much for living in harmony.

Besides its ugly implications, the state flag is simply too busy and hard to easily identify. When people rank the best to worst state flags, ours usually ends up in the bottom quarter or so.

Many of the most admired flags are simple in design with pleasing colors with a symbol or two that represents the state.

Those who’ve worked on replacing the flag design say design responsibility should lie with the proposed State Emblems Redesign Commission, which would include members ranging from legislators to the executive director of the Minnesota Historical Society to the chair of the Minnesota Arts Board and the tourism bureau executive. It would also have members representing Latino, African American, Asian American and Pacific Islander, Dakota and Ojibwe communities.

Some Republican lawmakers say there should be more European groups on the committee.

But the proposed makeup seems balanced and includes groups that have long been left out of such decisions.

A new flag shouldn’t only or overly represent just one group in the state’s diverse population and history. But it shouldn’t be hard to develop a flag that is more appealing and less demeaning than the current one.

— Mankato Free Press, Feb. 7

About Editorial Roundup

Editorials from newspapers around the state of Minnesota.

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