The state of Minnesota is set to get a new official flag this spring that will reflect its motto of being the North Star State, replacing an old flag that pictured a Native American that some critics argued was racist.
State officials formed a committee and allowed entries from members of the community before voting and ultimately adopting a new flag design in December that included two blue shapes with a white star.
The dark blue shape on the left of the flag resembles Minnesota. On the right is a light blue field that symbolizes the abundant waters that help define the Land of 10,000 Lakes. It also has a white, eight-pointed North Star on it.
The Legislature is likely to approve the new flag — and a new state seal — and they will become official on May 11. The change comes as several other states also have been redesigning their flags, including Utah, Mississippi, Michigan, Illinois and Maine.
The new Minnesota flag was chosen by a committee that was provided with more than 2,600 proposals from the public. The committee chose a base design from Andrew Prekker, 24, of Luverne.
The commission then made some changes that included replacing his original light blue, white and green stripes with a solid, light blue field.
The significance of the light blue area is open to interpretation. The original Dakota name for Minnesota, Mni Sóta Makoce, which will go on the new seal, can be translated as "where the water meets the sky." The commission’s chairman, Luis Fitch, said the light blue can also represent the Mississippi River, which originates in Minnesota.
The new flag was met with some criticism, as commentators said it was boring or a wasteful change. Supporters of the new flag are hopeful that it will grow on people.
One Indigenous graphic designer is already selling T-shirts online that bear the new design and say, "At least the flag isn't racist anymore."
Other states are also considering or have already made flag changes.
The Utah Legislature last winter approved a design that featured a beehive, a symbol of prosperity.
Mississippi chose a new flag with a magnolia to replace a Confederate-themed flag.
Michigan has started the process of simplifying its flag — which currently features a bald eagle, an elk and a moose and Latin words — to a tri-color design with stars or a lighthouse.
Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker has also initiated an effort to change his state flag, a process that will allow a flag commission to select potential flag designs by September 2024.
"Throughout our 205-year history, Illinois has boasted two official state flags — and it may be time we create a new one that exemplifies the values of our great state," Pritzker said in August 2023.
Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton added: "Our state flag demonstrates who we are as one Illinois, uplifting our history and our values. This bill will ensure the Illinois flag continues to be a symbol of progress and the ideals we uphold with the utmost honor. With the creation of the next flag of our state, we are ushering in a new era that will represent every Illinoisan and commemorate how far we have come so we may go even further together."
In Maine, residents want to replace the current flag with a retro version featuring a simple pine tree and a blue north star. The current design features a pine tree, a moose, a seafarer and a lumberjack, against a blue background.
Democratic Gov. Janet Mills wants "robust public debate and discussion on all sides of the issue," before a change is adopted, according to Mills spokesperson Ben Goodman.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.