North Dakota State Flag History

Nov 7th, 2016

North Dakota was the 39th state admitted to the Union on November 2, 1889. The state adopted its first official flag, 22 years later, on March 3, 1911. The flag that was adopted was almost an exact copy of the regimental flag of the First North Dakota Infantry during the Spanish American War and the Philippine Insurrection. The legislation did not specify a precise color for the flag.


N.D. State Flag


In 1943, legislation was passed that more specifically described flag so that it more accurately mimicked the regimental flag. Section 54-02-02 of the North Dakota Century Code dictates, in part, the following:


On each side of said flag in the center thereof, must be embroidered or stamped an eagle with outspread wings and with opened beak. The eagle must be three feet four inches [101.6 centimeters] from tip to tip of wing, and one foot ten inches [55.88 centimeters] from top of head to bottom of olive branch hereinafter described. The left foot of the eagle shall grasp a sheaf of arrows, the right foot shall grasp an olive branch showing three red berries. On the breast of the eagle must be displayed a shield, the lower part showing seven red and six white stripes placed alternately. Through the open beak of the eagle must pass a scroll bearing the words "E Pluribus Unum". Beneath the eagle there must be a scroll on which must be borne the words "North Dakota". Over the scroll carried through the eagle's beak must be shown thirteen five-pointed stars, the whole device being surmounted by a sunburst.


The flag must conform in all respects as to color, form, size, and device with the regimental flag carried by the First North Dakota Infantry in the Spanish American War and Philippine Insurrection, except in the words shown on the scroll below the eagle. To ensure historical accuracy, reproductions of the flag of North Dakota must adhere to the official design and industry color chart codes provided by the state historical society.”


Below are the meanings that have been assigned by legend to parts of the flag:


Arrows: Ready to defend liberty and freedom.

E Pluribus Unum: Latin for “out of many, one”.

Eagle: Strength and power.

Olive Branch: Peace.

Stripes on Shield: The original 13 colonies.

Sunburst: bright future, progress, and hope.

Stars: The original 13 colonies.


In 2001, the North American Vexillological Association conducted a survey of flags that included Canadian provinces and American states and territories. The North Carolina state flag was rated 56 out of 72 flags.


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