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Does Minnesota’s New State Flag Resemble That of an Autonomous Somali State?
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Does Minnesota’s New State Flag Resemble That of an Autonomous Somali State?

Social media posts are sharing a design that was rejected in the selection process.

(Image from the State Emblems Redesign Commission)

Minnesota is getting a new state flag, and right-wing accounts on X, including End Wokeness and pro-Trump influencer Fleccas, claim that the winning design purposefully resembles a Somali flag.

The inaccurate posts claim the new flag closely resembled that of Puntland state, a region of northeastern Somalia that was declared autonomous in 1998. Minnesota is home to the largest Somali population in the U.S., and possibly the most significant Somali diaspora community in the world outside of East Africa. Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar, the first Somali-American to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, represents the 5th Congressional District, which encompasses much of greater Minneapolis. 

There’s only one problem with the social media posts: The flag they are sharing is neither the final design adopted by Minnesota nor the original model from which the finalist was derived. Instead, they show a single variant that was proposed as part of the flag’s final design alteration process.

On December 19, the State Emblems Redesign Commission (SERC) adopted a final design in a monthslong process to select a new state flag.* Featuring the North Star alongside two shades of blue representing the waters of Minnesota, the new flag replaces an updated design adopted for the state’s centennial in 1957 and revised most recently in 1983.

The new flag, which is based on an original submission by Luverne, Minnesota, native Andrew Prekker, was chosen from more than 2,000 initial design concepts submitted for review by Minnesotans.

Following yearslong efforts by vexillologists—flag experts—to change the state’s flag, Minnesota’s state legislature appropriated $45,000 to the SERC in April to be used for a redesign process. After an initial review of public submissions, the commission chose six finalists to be the basis for the final flag. The commission heard presentations on the designs during a virtual meeting on December 5, with the top three vote-getters advancing for further modifications including changes to shapes and colors.

During a December 15 meeting, the commission narrowed the options further to a single design concept—submission F1953—from which the final flag design would be derived. A presentation prepared for the commission’s next session included five variations, of which the commission chose option F1953 C.

The final five designs adapted from Prekker’s original submission.

Social media posts falsely identified one of the proposed design variations—F1953 A—as the state’s final selection. Many of these posts circulated widely prior to a final design actually being chosen, but some—including a story shared on Truth Social by Sean Hannity—appeared even after the commission made the final selection.

While the original flag design submitted by Prekker did feature three colored stripes similar to those of the Puntland flag, the colors have symbolic roots in the state: white representing snow, green representing nature and agriculture, and light blue representing the state’s water. The SERC stipulated in its initial design brief that use of these colors was preferred in submissions due to their historic link to the state. “Utilize a color palette that represents the state effectively,” the brief reads. “Blue, green, and white are often associated with Minnesota’s natural beauty, while red and yellow can symbolize its vitality.” 

“The new Minnesota flag was not designed based on the Somali flag,” a spokesperson for the Minnesota Historical Society told The Dispatch Fact Check. “The designer who submitted the design concept, who is from Luverne, Minnesota, cited many symbols and references of Minnesota as his design inspiration. The Commission further refined the design to represent important features of Minnesota including the North Star, the shape of the State of Minnesota, and blue representing the waters of Minnesota.”

*Correction, December 22, 2023: This article originally and incorrectly identified the State Emblems and Redesign Commission as part of the Minnesota Historical Society. The society provided administrative support to the commission during the flag selection process.

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Alex Demas is a fact checker at The Dispatch and is based in Washington, D.C. Prior to joining the company in 2023, he worked in England as a financial journalist and earned his MA in Political Economy at King's College London. When not heroically combating misinformation online, Alex can be found mixing cocktails, watching his beloved soccer team Aston Villa lose a match, or attempting to pet stray cats.