(St. Paul, Minn.) Vexillologists are in disarray, pardon the pun.
This week, the state of Minnesota chose the design of the new flag which will replace the one which, flying since 1957, was not exactly unanimous. We will come back to this.
In doing so, French will disappear from American flags: Minnesota was the only one of the 50 states to incorporate the language of Molière. Latin and English are found on several flags, but “The North Star” was the last remnant of the French-speaking presence in the United States. These words are actually the motto of Minnesota, adopted in 1861.
Let’s not lie: we were hoping that the French motto was a nod to Maurice Vachon, who had some success between the cables around here. But it was more of a salute to the many French Canadians who came to the region long before “Mad Dog.”
“For nearly 200 years before Minnesota became a state, French was the primary European language spoken here,” reads the website of the French-American Heritage Foundation of Minnesota.
That said, the story of the new flag is not linguistic, whatever the title of this postcard suggests, you will excuse us.
Quick hop to the Minnesota capitol, about a fifteen-minute walk from the Xcel Energy Center where the Canadian trained on Wednesday. It is still the 1957 flag that flies, because the new one has not yet been approved by elected officials. We hope for a vote in February and an unveiling on May 11, the anniversary of the State, we are told at reception.
On site, we meet Dan and his grandson Owen, who have come to visit their parliament, before heading to the Science Museum. We quickly understand where the good Dan stands.
“We live on stolen territory. We have a lot of catching up to do and I’m glad the flag is finally changed,” this chatterbox tells us, amid praise for the quality of life in Canada.
This is because the old flag represented a white man in the foreground, who was plowing the earth with his rifle leaning nearby. In the distance, an Aboriginal man on his horse is visibly leaving the area. The message is as subtle as a tractor.
“The flag was very offensive, it was the image of a settler who chases the First Nations from the territory,” laments Dan.
On the new flag simply appears an eight-pointed star, without the slightest inscription. The navy blue portion recalls the shape of Minnesota, while the turquoise portion evokes the state’s many lakes.
No risk of controversy here.