Minnesota State Flag: A pride of rich culture and history

Minnesota is a state that has a rich history and a unique story behind its state flag. The flag features a striking blue background with a yellow circle in the center, and inside the circle, there is an image of a white North Star. Besides this mysterious star, there are other elements that add meaning to the flag’s design, such as the state seal and the pink and white lady slippers. The flag design went through some evolutions before becoming the symbol it is today, and there are even some fascinating facts about its use, such as the flag retirement ceremony. The Minnesota state flag is a fascinating subject to explore and uncover its intriguing story step-by-step.


Minnesota’s state flag has a unique history that dates back to the state’s early days. Prior to Minnesota becoming a state in 1858, there were several different flags used to represent the area. The first flag was flown by Henry H. Sibley in 1855 and featured a white field with a blue canton and a red star in the center. However, as the territory’s population grew and its residents began to call for statehood, a new flag design was needed. In 1893, the state legislature commissioned the design of a new flag, which was officially adopted on March 19, 1896. The flag’s designer, Amelia Hyde Center, was a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution and wanted the flag to reflect Minnesota’s history and culture. The flag’s design features three main elements: the North Star, the state seal, and the Lady Slippers. Together, these symbols represent the state’s natural beauty, history, and progress.

Early flags of Minnesota

Minnesota’s first official flag was introduced in 1893, but its origins date back to the 1860s. During the Civil War, regiments from Minnesota used several different flags. One of the most popular designs was a blue flag with a white shield in the center. The shield depicted a white American eagle, and the words “The North Star” were written underneath.

After the war, Minnesota’s regiments returned home, and the state began searching for a flag to represent them. In 1893, the Legislature approved a flag design that featured a simple field of blue with the state seal in the center. This design remained in use until 1957, when an additional law was passed to add a border of gold fringe.

Although the legislation did not provide specifics on the exact shade of blue or yellow-gold to use, the flag has generally been made with sky blue and goldenrod, a type of yellow-gold. The colors were officially standardized in 1983 by the Minnesota State Legislature.

The original flag was designed by a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, Clara M. Whitney. Her design for the state flag won a competition sponsored by the DAR in 1892. The winning design was unveiled on April 4, 1893, at the Minnesota State Capitol.

Minnesota’s first flag was quite simple and lacked some of the intricate details of today’s flag. Since then, Minnesota’s flag has undergone several changes, but it still maintains the simplicity of its first design.

Designing the state flag

Minnesota did not have an official state flag until 1893, almost 36 years after it became a state. The idea to design a state flag came from the Minnesota State Society, which was based in New York City at the time. They asked the governor of Minnesota, John S. Pillsbury, to design a flag that would represent the state.

Governor Pillsbury, however, passed on the responsibility to the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) in Minnesota. They organized a contest for the design of the state flag, which was open to all women who lived in the state.

The winning design was submitted by Amelia Hyde Center, and it was chosen out of a total of 55 entries. Her design featured a white background, with the state seal in the center, surrounded by garland, with a red ribbon circling the seal and bearing the state motto “L’Étoile du Nord”, which means “The Star of the North” in French.

The design was further refined by the DAR, who added a wreath of pink and white lady slippers, which are the state flower, to the outside of the garland. The DAR also added a golden fringe to the top and bottom of the flag, to give it an even more decorative look.

The final design was officially approved by the Minnesota State Legislature on May 11, 1893. The state flag was then displayed for the first time at the Minnesota State Fair later that year.

The design of the Minnesota state flag pays homage to the state’s French heritage, as well as its dedication to supporting the Union during the Civil War, which is represented by the garland. The white background and blue North Star, which symbolizes the state’s position as the northernmost state in the contiguous U.S., also gives the flag a distinctly Minnesotan feel.


The Minnesota state flag features three significant images that represent the state’s culture and history. The North Star symbolizes the state’s motto, “L’Étoile du Nord,” which means “The Star of the North.” It serves as a reminder of the state’s location on the Northern Hemisphere and its position as the northernmost state in the contiguous United States. The State Seal in the center of the flag depicts a pioneer plowing a field with an ax and a gun near the waterfall, representing the state’s abundant natural resources and its role in the nation’s agricultural economy. Lastly, the Lady Slippers surrounding the seal exemplify the state’s official flower and serve as a tribute to Minnesota’s natural beauty. The meaning behind Minnesota’s state flag reflects its unique and proud identity, just like how each state flag holds a unique story and symbolism.

The North Star

The North Star is a significant element of the Minnesota state flag. It appears in the center of the flag, against a blue background. The star has been a symbol of guidance and hope for centuries and is also a vital element in celestial navigation. The use of the North Star on the state flag of Minnesota has deep historical roots.

The state of Minnesota is located in the northern part of the United States, and the North Star has long been an important symbol in the region. During the colonial period, lumberjacks used the North Star as a “lodestar” to guide them through the dense forests. It was also a symbol of the Underground Railroad, a network of secret routes and safe houses used by enslaved African Americans to escape into free states and Canada.

Aside from these historical roots, the North Star on the Minnesota state flag also represents the state’s motto, “L’Etoile du Nord,” which means “The Star of the North.” This phrase reflects the state’s northern location and its status as a guiding light for the region.

The North Star is also highly symbolic in various cultures. In many Native American cultures, it represents the spirit of ancestors and a guiding light for the future. Additionally, Christianity views the North Star as a symbol of hope, guiding people to the birthplace of Jesus.

The North Star is a vital component of the Minnesota state flag, representing the state’s historical roots, regional significance, and cultural symbolism. Its presence on the flag reminds Minnesotans of their past and present and guides them into the future.

The State Seal

The Minnesota state flag features an emblem at the center, which is the official state seal of Minnesota. The circular seal is surrounded by a yellow outer ring with the state motto, “L’Etoile du Nord” or “The Star of the North,” written in bold letters.

The state seal was designed by artist Charles A. Welter and adopted as the official state seal in 1861. The seal is rich in symbolism that reflects Minnesota’s heritage and natural resources.

Here are the elements of the state seal and their meanings:

Element Meaning
The Mississippi River and St. Anthony Falls Representing the importance of these water resources to the state’s economic and social activities since the state’s early history.
The sun setting over open fields An emblem of the plentiful agricultural landscape and the glorious sunset that often paints the skies above it.
Wagon wheel and plow They are symbols of the state’s agriculture and farming industry, which was vital to the early growth of the state and is still important today.
The North Star The symbol of guidance and progress, which is seen on the state flag and serves as a reference to the state’s motto of “The Star of the North.”

The seal, with its striking imagery and deep symbolism, has become an integral part of Minnesota’s identity and is prominently displayed on the state flag and other official documents.

Minnesota’s state seal is a unique emblem that stands as a testament to the state’s rich history and culture. The use of symbols in the design creates a deeper connection with the residents, celebrating what makes Minnesota special.

The Lady Slippers

One of the main features of the Minnesota state flag is the pair of pink and white lady slippers that are located in the center. These flowers are the official state flower of Minnesota and they are commonly found in the state’s forests and bogs. There are several interesting facts about these flowers and their symbolism on the state flag:

  • State flower: The lady slipper was designated as the official state flower of Minnesota in 1967, after a group of schoolchildren conducted a statewide vote to determine which flower should be chosen. Interestingly, there are several different species of lady slippers, but the vote did not specify a particular one.
  • A symbol of rare beauty: The lady slipper is a rare flower that is not found in many places around the world. Its delicate beauty and unusual shape make it a popular sight for nature lovers and hikers.
  • Symbolism on the state flag: The lady slippers on the Minnesota flag symbolize the state’s natural beauty and its unique flora that is found only in this part of the country. Additionally, the pink and white colors of the flowers represent some of the state’s characteristic landscapes, including its pink granite cliffs and snowy winters.

The lady slippers on the Minnesota state flag are a beautiful and symbolic representation of the state’s natural beauty and unique flora. Designating these flowers as the official state flower was a fitting tribute to the state’s natural heritage. For more interesting facts about state flags and their symbolism, check out our article on New England flag origin.

Interesting Facts

The Minnesota state flag is full of interesting facts that many people may not know. For example, did you know that in 1957, a flag retirement ceremony was held to honor the state flag that had flown over Minnesota’s Capitol Building since 1905? The original flag was retired and replaced with a new one that included the years 1819 and 1858 to commemorate the creation of Minnesota Territory and statehood, respectively. Another interesting fact is that the city of Winona boasts the largest Minnesota state flag, measuring over 50 feet by 72 feet! Additionally, the flag’s design is heavily inspired by the state seal, which features a farmer and a Native American riding into the sunset, representing the state’s agricultural and cultural roots. The Minnesota state flag is full of unique and meaningful design elements that make it a truly special emblem of the state.

Flag retirement ceremony

Flag Retirement Ceremony

In Minnesota, the flag is not only a symbol of state pride, but it is also a treasured item. The state recognizes the importance of properly retiring flags that have been worn, frayed, or damaged. Thus, there are ceremonies held throughout the state to retire such flags in a dignified manner.

The American Legion and VFW posts organize these ceremonies, and it is customary to hold them on Flag Day, June 14th. Flags are usually folded carefully and disposed of in an incinerator. The flag retirement ceremony symbolizes respect for the flag and the country it represents.

Interestingly, Minnesota is not the only state that holds flag retirement ceremonies. Many other states, like Texas (link to Texas flag history and meaning), California (link to California state flag symbolism), Florida (link to Florida flag design), and New Mexico (link to New Mexico flag symbolism), also recognize the importance of properly disposing of worn and damaged flags.

This tradition of retiring flags helps to keep alive the meanings and values behind the symbols of a state’s flag.

Largest Minnesota flag

The largest Minnesota state flag ever made is displayed at the University of Minnesota’s TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. It measures 50 feet by 30 feet and weighs 70 pounds. This flag was created by the well-known flag-making company Annin Flagmakers and it was officially flown for the first time on September 12, 2009, during the opening ceremony of the first football game of that season.

This impressive flag was made with durable, high-quality materials and is designed to withstand strong winds and difficult weather conditions. It is made of heavyweight nylon and sewn with lock stitching to ensure that it stays together.

The flag was a joint project of the University of Minnesota and Annin Flagmakers. The creation of the flag took more than four months and involved many people working long hours to ensure that it was of the highest quality.

The flag is displayed on a massive 120-foot-tall flagpole located at the stadium’s entrance. The pole was specially designed to accommodate the size and weight of the flag, and it is capable of withstanding winds of up to 95 miles per hour.

The creation of the largest Minnesota flag was a proud moment for both the University of Minnesota and Annin Flagmakers. It represents the pride and spirit of the state and serves as a reminder of the rich history and heritage of Minnesota.


In conclusion, the Minnesota state flag has a rich and deep history that reflects the values and beliefs of its citizens. From the early flags of Minnesota to the final design, the state flag has evolved over time to represent what the state stands for. The North Star, state seal, and lady slippers are prominent symbols that encompass the state’s identity.

Moreover, the interesting facts surrounding the flag, such as the flag retirement ceremony and the largest Minnesota flag ever made, further reinforce the significance of this state symbol.

It is essential to understand and appreciate the symbolism behind the flag because it serves as a unifying factor for the state’s residents. The Minnesota state flag is more than just a piece of cloth; it is a symbol of pride and honor that represents the state’s values and history.

In recent years, there have been discussions to update the flag’s design, but this change has yet to take place. Regardless of future changes, the current flag will always hold significance and will continue to represent Minnesota’s unique history and identity. The state flag serves as a reminder of the state’s past and present accomplishments and provides a sense of belonging and unity among all who reside in or visit Minnesota.

Frequently Asked Questions

What year was the Minnesota state flag adopted?

The Minnesota state flag was officially adopted on March 19, 1957.

Who designed the Minnesota state flag?

The design of the state flag is attributed to an architect named Paul Phelps.

What is the meaning behind the North Star on the flag?

The North Star represents the state’s motto, “L’Etoile du Nord,” which means “The Star of the North.” It symbolizes Minnesota’s location as the northernmost state in the contiguous United States.

What is the significance of the state seal on the flag?

The state seal on the flag represents the industry and natural resources of Minnesota, including agriculture, mining, and forestry.

Why were Lady Slippers chosen as a symbol on the flag?

The Lady Slipper is the state flower of Minnesota and was chosen to represent the state’s natural beauty and resources.

What is the history behind the flag retirement ceremony?

The flag retirement ceremony dates back to the Civil War and is a way to respectfully dispose of worn or damaged flags. Minnesota holds an annual statewide flag retirement ceremony on Flag Day.

What is the largest Minnesota state flag?

The largest Minnesota state flag on record was flown in 2013 at the Minnesota State Fair and measured 50 feet by 82 feet.

How does the Minnesota state flag compare to other state flags?

The Minnesota state flag is often praised for its simple, distinctive design. It is ranked among the top 10 state flags in North America.

Was the Minnesota flag considered controversial when it was first introduced?

While there was not a lot of controversy surrounding the design of the flag, some people were critical of the fact that it included the state seal, which was seen as too complex for a flag design.

What can the Minnesota state flag tell us about the state’s history and culture?

The Minnesota state flag tells the story of the state’s natural resources, such as its forests, rivers, and lakes, as well as its history of industry and innovation. The North Star symbolizes Minnesota’s sense of direction and perseverance, while the Lady Slipper represents the state’s inherent natural beauty and resources.


Leave a Comment