Minnesotans buying up state flag before it’s too late

The New York Times put its stamp of approval on the bland new Minnesota state flag unveiled this week. It was quite a stretch, but the reporter did her best to find hidden meaning in the assembled strips of blank blue cloth with a star that could be mistaken for clip art at first glance.

Minnesota on Tuesday announced the winning design for its new state flag after a competition that was prompted by criticism that its current flag was offensive to Native Americans.

The new design consists of a light blue right panel, representing the state’s many lakes, and navy blue left panel, resembling the shape of Minnesota, with an eight-pointed northern star. It is a vast departure from the current flag: a busy design with the state seal at its center depicting a pioneer beside a rifle and a Native American with a spear on horseback, which one lawmaker described as “a cluttered genocidal mess.”

The 24-year old Luverne man who designed the winning entry also sees much more than meets the eye in the blank blue panels.

It is my greatest hope that this new flag can finally represent our state and all its people properly,” said Andrew Prekker in a statement. “That every Minnesotan of every background —including the Indigenous communities and tribal nations who’ve been historically excluded— can look up at our flag with pride and honor, and see themselves within it.”

Yet flag appreciation, like beauty, must be in the eye of the beholder. It turns out Minnesotans in at least one city want to get their hands on a current state flag before the new one takes its place. KNSI radio says customers started coming out in droves after seeing the new version set to replace it.

At Coil’s Flags and Flagpoles of St. Cloud, the Minnesota state flag was already the store’s second-best seller.

As the process of replacing the current design comes to a close, owner Tim Coil says he can’t keep it on the shelves as it enjoys a surge of popularity.

“I’ve had a great show of people coming in, and they’re not just buying one flag. Most people are buying three or four flags because they want to have inventory at home so they can still fly the old (current) Minnesota flag because they don’t like the design of the new one.”

In fact, the high level of demand has the owner considering how many of the current state flag to order and keep in stock after it’s no longer official.

Coil says the rush of buyers plan to give the banners out to their children as Christmas gifts with the intention that they would be preserved for years to come after we switch to the new design. Coil says he doesn’t believe the trend will slow down.

“I can see sales on this thing for quite a while, and I’m trying to judge inventory on that also because, you know, if they do quit making it, I want to make sure I have enough inventory on hand to satisfy the needs of the consumer out there.”

The current state flag will still fly over official Minnesota government buildings and gatherings for at least a few more weeks. It’s not expected to be replaced until state legislators reconvene and vote to approve the newly minted version.