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Minnesota's new state flag, seal design finalists unveiled after lengthy debate

Designs for Minnesota's next state flag judged by panel
Designs for Minnesota's next state flag judged by panel 02:41

MINNEAPOLIS — A panel tasked with redesigning the Minnesota state flag and seal narrowed a pool of over 2,600 designs from the public to the final few.

MORE: What you need to know about the new Minnesota state flag

The State Emblems Redesign Commission landed on six top choices for the flag, and five for the seal, after hours of discussion Tuesday and weeks of meetings this fall.

The flag finalists reflect common themes and elements. All of them have a star, a nod to the state's motto "L'Etoile du Nord," and some shade of blue for the land of 10,000 lakes. A few included green and white in the color palette. Minnesotans will get to share their feedback on the designs with the commission.

"We're distilling a wealth of excellent ideas rather than merely selecting a winning flag or seal," said Luis Fitch, chair of the commission, when they began the process Tuesday.

Top six flag designs

Submission F29 State Emblems Redesign Commission  
Submission F1953 State Emblems Redesign Commission  
Submission F1154 State Emblems Redesign Commission  
Submission F2100 State Emblems Redesign Commission  
Submission F1435 State Emblems Redesign Commission  
Submission F944 State Emblems Redesign Commission  

The new designs "must accurately and respectfully reflect Minnesota's shared history, resources, and diverse cultural communities," but "symbols, emblems, or likenesses that represent only a single community or person, regardless of whether real or stylized, may not be included in a design," according to state law.

The day began with hundreds of designs on display in the Minnesota Senate Building, where panel met. Those images were the 13 voting members' initial choices for both the state and seal — they could pick up to 25 of the 2,600 submissions, which exceeded the commission's expectations.

Then later, the panel shrunk the slate of choices to a handful and meticulously analyzed each one of them. They also took a vote to increase the number of finalists from five to six.

"This is really a heavy lift. I don't want us to get it wrong," said member Denise Mazone.

It marked the first time the group convened in person since it began weekly meetings in September. Members admitted the task was daunting: submitting a new vision for both state symbols that will debut on May 11, Statehood Day, and a report detailing the process and the final picks to submit to the legislature by the new year.

"It's been moving at a rapid pace, but it's been fun to take Minnesotans along for the ride," vice chair Dr. Anita Gaul told reporters ahead of the meeting.

The current flag dates back to 1957 and the seal was adopted in 1861. Supporters of changing Minnesota's official symbols say the current design contains offensive imagery — a settler tilling the land as a Native American rides off into the distance — and it violates the tenets of "good flag design," or a simple flag with meaningful symbols.

The flag designs — 85% of the total number submissions — far surpassed the volume of state seal ideas. But the seal serves an important purpose on official government documents. The current flag is the seal on a blue background, which lawmakers who established the commission wanted to change so the flag and seal are distinct.

Choosing that symbol was easier for the panel to find consensus. The seal with the loon in its center got the most votes from the commission. All others have some form of the North Star on them.

Top five seal designs

Submission S224 State Emblems Redesign Commission  
Submission S147 State Emblems Redesign Commission  
Submission S2 State Emblems Redesign Commission  
Submission S27 State Emblems Redesign Commission  
Submission S6 State Emblems Redesign Commission  

Residents will be able to provide feedback on the contending designs.

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