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The Minnesota State Flag

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State flags are mostly pretty badly designed, but they do express values of the state, or at least they do when they are changed. See how various southern states added the stars and bars to their flag in the early 60s to show that they stood for white supremacy. That’s telling your values in a flag. Well, so did Minnesota. Above is the old flag. It is racist. So it has been replaced by the new flag, which you see below:

Well, I guess it’s not offensive, unless you find boring offensive. This looks like it was designed for a corporate office park flag. In any case, here’s how it went down and why it all matters, which is really does:

Minnesota unveiled its new flag design Tuesday in an effort to replace one with a seal that some Native Americans deemed offensive.

The 174-year-old seal on the state’s current flag depicted a White settler plowing a field, a rifle leaning on a nearby tree stump, while an Indigenous man rides away on horseback.

Shelley Buck, a tribal leader, said that message was “very offensive for a Dakota woman.”

The seal and flag seemed to be “taking pride in driving my people from their homes,” said Buck, president of the Owamniyomni Okhodayapi river-restoration project and former leader of the Prairie Island Indian Community.

Buck was one of five Native American members of the 13-person commission that chose the flag design Tuesday. She said she wanted to ensure that it was “more inclusive, that it paid homage to the history of the state, that people felt good about it.”

Andrew Prekker, whose design won the commission’s approval, said he designed the flag to replace a “problematic representation of our state.”

“For many people, this isn’t seen as a symbol of unification, it’s seen as a symbol of colonization,” the Luverne resident said in an email Tuesday night. “Every Minnesotan — and especially those in our Indigenous communities and tribal nations — should be able to proudly look up at our flag and feel represented by it.”

The state’s potential new flag design is far simpler than its predecessor.

“The navy swallowtail on the left forms the abstract shape of Minnesota, and right in the center of our state is an eight-pointed star … seen in the art of the Dakota, Ojibwe and other indigenous communities,” Prekker said.

“The navy of the Minnesota shape represents a broad association to Minnesota identity. … The light blue on the fly represents the various significant meanings of water to our state: each as the land of 10,000 lakes, the birth state of the Mississippi River and the origins of our state’s name — which came from the Dakota — that translates to ‘a place where the water reflects the sky.’”

OK, you have to know a lot there to see that it means anything. But hey, whatever, at least it is not overtly racist anymore.

Given how furious Minnesota whites were over the adding of the indigenous name to Fort Snelling by the Minnesota Historical Society a few years ago, I can only imagine the rage coming out of St. Cloud today.

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