New Mexico State Flag History

Oct 30th, 2016

New Mexico became the 47th state admitted to the Union on January 6, 1912. It adopted an official state flag in 1925. It is one of only a handful of states that adopted an official flag that quickly.


New Mexico Flag


In 1920, the Daughters of the American Revolution held a contest for a contemporary and unique state flag design. Harry Mera, an archeologist, won the contest. He chose a red Zia Sun symbol that was found on a 19th century pot at Zia Pueblo. The emblem was meant to symbolize the Native American Pueblo heritage of New Mexico. The Zia assigned a sacred meaning to it. They believed that four had sacred meanings and symbolized the circle of life: four seasons, four stages of life, four directions, four times a day. The circle in the middle of the symbol represents the circle of life and binds the four elements together.


Yellow was chosen for the field. The colors combined, red and yellow, are Spanish colors and symbolize New Mexico’s Spanish heritage.


An unofficial state flag was used from 1912 through 1925. That flag had a blue field, the American flag in the canton, the state seal in the diagonal corner, and silver lettering of the words “New Mexico” and “47”. The number 47 was used because New Mexico was the 47th state admitted to the Union.


NM 1912 - 1925


In a survey conducted by the North American Vexillological Association, NAVA, in 2001, New Mexico’s state flag design ranked number 1, the best flag out of the 72 that were ranked. NAVA stated that New Mexico’s flag was strongly favored for its simple and distinctive design. The designs of flags from Canadian provinces and U.S. states and territories were included in the survey.


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