Monday, April 23, 2012

New Flag for Nebraska

Back in 2001, the North American Vexillological Association conducted a survey (which I have mentioned on this blog in the past) in which they endeavored to rate the flags of the states, provinces, and territories of the USA and Canada.  New Mexico, Texas, Quebec, Maryland, and Alaska made up the top five best designs, while this week's flag, Nebraska's, came in at number 71, second to last:

"If that flag is second to last, which flag was the worst?" I can hear you asking.  Well, the survey was conducted in 2001 and at that time, Georgia was in the middle of a flag transition and had a odd combination of state seal and all the state's previous flags in one design (see my post New Flag for Georgia for more info).  Since then Georgia's flag as changed and while it still isn't in the top 10 or 20, it is definitely better than last place.  The only conclusion I can draw is that Nebraska now holds the secure spot as being the worst flag in the USA and Canada.

I suppose I should tread lightly in regards to Nebraska's flag, for in doing research for this post I found the official information on the flag provided by the government of the state.  On Nebraska's Secretary of State page, it said "State law says no part of the state flag is to be used as a business advertisement or trademark, and insulting the flag is forbidden."  I have no intentions of trademarking this design, but it is possible I'll be insulting it as we go.

This flag is awful and the vexillology survey got it right. It seems like Nebraska was trying to follow the rule of having few, contrasting colors, but ignored the idea of keeping the imagery simple and concise.  The end result of course is the mess seen above. 

Honestly, I don't see anything worth keeping in this flag.  Even the imagery used in the seal, ignoring how fussy and confusing it is, could be representative of almost anywhere (generic mountains, a river, fields, etc.).  In the end I decided to maintain the shades of blue and the yellow used in the seal and discarding everything else.  I used the natural monument Chimney Rock as the basis for a new design as it is unique to the state and served as an important landmark for several of the trails used by American settlers to travel west, primarily to Oregon, California, and Utah.  Here is what I came up with:

Chimney Rock is balanced by a Zia sun symbol (also used on the New Mexico flag and seen on my proposal for a new Wisconsin flag) in the upper right in a design reminiscent of what was used on Nebraska's state quarter back in 2006:

If I had any artistic ability, I would have tried to include the image of the covered wagon, but I'll leave that to people who are using something more precise than MS Paint.

A quick note on the Zia sun symbol.  The Zia tribe is located in New Mexico, but that symbol has been found on flags in Wisconsin and Kansas, so I thought Nebraska (conveniently located between Wisconsin and Kansas) could use it as well.


  1. OK, a whole lot better than current, of course! Maybe, if more geometrical (like a obelisk), it would work a little better.

    For now, I'm inviting you to a new blog of mine ( Probably, from April 25th it'll be working right.

  2. I went back and forth on this one. On the one hand, I wanted Chimney Rock to still be recognizable, but on the other, I see your point and it may just be fussy detail for the sake of fussy detail.

  3. Yeah, I'd make the chimney less organic and kinda geometric/generic. Maybe a thick triangle tapering to a obelisk? St. Lucia-like?

    The zia symbol may have some connection to this state, but unless it is big, it just is confusing with NM using it so well.

  4. I get the whole Chimney Rock thing, since it's on our dumb quarter, but I find it a bit insulting. That's a landmark for people who were on their way, a good place to camp out in sight of and then move on. It doesn't define Nebraska to its inhabitants. Your reasoning on the sun symbol goes right along with that reasoning, and I don't like it.

    Instead, I would suggest a cottonwood tree centered on the flag. When people settled here, there weren't many trees. Per Wikipedia, "The first American Arbor Day was originated in Nebraska City, Nebraska, United States by J. Sterling Morton. On April 10, 1872, an estimated one million trees were planted in Nebraska." This symbolizes our work ethic and long-term thinking, values we cherish, and it's a native species.

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  8. Wow, Nebraska is ANAL RETENTIVE! You aren't allowed to insult the flag, and you aren't even allowed to display a picture of the state seal (and therefore the flag) without permission.

    I'm working on a book about symbols of the 50 states (Geobop's State Symbols) that will have a lot to say about new flag proposals. I'm wondering if it's safe for me to include a picture of Nebraska's flag. Wikipedia lists the flag and seal both as public domain. Have you heard of anyone being sued for displaying pictures of Nebraska's flag or seal?

    Anyone who wants to contact me can do so at

  9. Well, David, no one is technically allowed to do those with any flags as I understand it. Anyway, ya. Using the zia symbol is idiotic and is just copying the number one state flag. And taking from a tribe that is not affiliated with that state. You should look into your local tribes and see if any of them wish to donate a symbol of theirs. That is, assuming that Wisconsin is still considering changing their flag. Seeing as this post happened about 4 year ago.