Legislature > Minnesota State Symbols
Minnesota State Symbols
Compiled by the Minnesota Legislative Reference Library
These Minnesota state symbols are designated by law. The list includes statutory citations,
some legislative history, and citations to sources of additional information available in the Library.
The Library also has a list of unofficial or proposed
symbols (both serious and facetious). The online lists are supplemented with notebooks of additional
news clippings and other materials in the Library.
For more information about official state symbols, see the Students' Page
from the Office of the Secretary of State, a state symbols list from the office of Governor Mark Dayton, a state
symbols fact sheet from the Minnesota House of Representatives
Public Information Services Office, and
a game with pictures.
BIRD: The loon (Gavia immer) was designated in 1961. (Minnesota Statutes 1.145)
Before the Legislature decided on the loon as Minnesota’s state bird, several other
birds were suggested, including the Eastern goldfinch (1947), the mourning dove (1951), the pileated woodpecker
(1951 and 1953), the scarlet tanager (1951) and the wood duck (1951).
The successful 1961 bill was authored by Sen.
Norman Walz and Rep. Loren Rutter,
and was signed into law by Governor Elmer L. Andersen.
Elizabeth M. Bachmann, “Minnesota’s New State Bird, the Loon,” Gopher Historian (Fall 1961): 17-22. Used with permission.
Sue Hubbell, “Its Ponds May Not Always be Golden, But the Loon Still Sings a Wild Song,” Smithsonian (March 1989): 58-66.
Loon: Information from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
BUTTERFLY: The Monarch (Danaus plexippus) was
designated in 2000. (Minnesota Statutes 1.1497)
Promoted by a fourth-grade class at Anderson Elementary School in Mahtomedi,
Rep. Harry Mares
and Sen. Chuck Wiger sponsored the
bill to name the monarch butterfly as a state symbol. Rep. Mares noted, "A lot of people have an early
introduction to the magical world of nature through the monarch, and as we get older it becomes a thread that
takes us through science to beauty and aesthetics." Governor
Jesse Ventura signed the bill into law.
“A Legislative Lesson,” Session Weekly, April 7, 2000, page 17.
Monarch butterfly: Information from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
DRINK: Milk was designated the official
state drink in 1984. (Minnesota Statutes 1.1495)
Rep. Rick Krueger, chief sponsor of
the bill, said that milk was chosen for several reasons; it has promotional value for the American Dairy
Association, it would help tourism efforts, show the dairy industry the state cares about it, and bring
about a general awarenenss of dairy products in the state. It was signed into law by Governor Rudy Perpich.
FLAG: The first state flag was designated in 1893. (Laws of Minnesota 1893, Chapter 16) The design for the current Minnesota state flag was adopted in 1957 (Laws of Minnesota 1957, Chapter 155, Sections 1-4), based on a proposed design by a legislative interim commission created in 1955. (Laws of Minnesota 1955, Chapter 632) Minnesota Statutes 1.141 describes the flag and conditions under which it should be flown.
In 1989, a new flag design was proposed by the Minnesota Flag Coalition, but no bill was introduced. In 2000, Sen. Ed Oliver introduced a bill (SF3587) proposing a legislative task force on the design of the state flag, but the bill did not pass.
William M. Becker, “The Origin of the Minnesota State Flag,” Minnesota History 53 (Spring 1992): 2-8. Used with permission.
Joseph A.A. Burnquist (editor), Minnesota and Its People (Volume 1). Chicago: S.J. Clarke Publishing, 1924, p. 327-328.
Cook, Mike. "Two for One: State Flag Did Not Always Appear As It Does Today,"Session Weekly (February 1, 2002): p. 4
Moos, Grant. "New Wave: Two State-Flag Enthusiasts are Running a New Design Up the Flagppole," Minnesota Monthly (November 1989): p. 23-24.
Report of the Interim Committee on Change of the State Flag. St. Paul: The Commission, 1955.
FLOWER: The pink and white Lady Slipper (Cypripedium reginae) was
designated the state flower in 1967. (Minnesota Statutes
The Lady Slipper was considered the state flower long before it was officially passed into law. In 1893 a
petition from the Women's Auxiliary to the World's Fair was presented to the Senate, asking that the Wild
Lady Slipper (Cyprideum calceolous) be designated the state flower. The Senate adopted the resolution on
February 4, 1893 (Senate Journal entry), but
there is no evidence that the House adopted it. Also, the variety that was designated was not from Minnesota.
In 1902 women of the St. Anthony Study Circle brought this to the attention of the Legislature. The Senate
passed a new resolution on February 18, 1902,
naming the pink and white lady slipper (Cypripedium reginae), also known
as the showy lady slipper, as Minnesota’s state
flower (Senate Journal entries).
The House concurred (House Journal entry).
The designation as official state symbol was written into law in 1967; chief authors
were Rep. Jack
Morris and Sen. John Tracy
Anderson. It was signed by Governor Harold Levander.
The Minnesota state flower is protected by Minnesota Statutes
on transplanting lady
slippers is available from the Minnesota Department of Natural resources.
Flandrau, Charles E, “The Official State Flower of the
State, and the Method of Its Selection,” from The History of Minnesota and
Tales of the Frontier, St. Paul: E.W. Porter, 1900, pages 237-241.
Information from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
Minnesota's State Flower: Queen of
Lady's-Slippers. St. Paul: Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Undated. (1976? It is part of
the Minnesota Heritage Series.)
“State Flower Called Fake: St. Anthony Study Circle Asserts Official Posie Does Not Grow Wild Here,
Evidence is Submitted, Women Ask Senate to Make an Amendatory Resolution Changing to Another
Species,” Minneapolis Tribune 2/2/1902: p. 6.
FRUIT: Honeycrisp apple was designated the state fruit in 2006.
(Minnesota Statutes 1.1475)
The successful Honeycrisp apple variety, developed at the University of Minnesota,
was suggested by a class of students from Andersen Elementary School in Bayport.
Rep. Mike Charron
and Sen. Brian LeClair sponsored the
legislation and Minnesota became the 21st state to adopt a state fruit.
It was signed into law by Governor Tim Pawlenty.
Dunn, Ruth. "A True Taste of
Minnesota," Session Weekly (July 22, 2005), p. 43.
bill passes." New Laws
2006, Minnesota House of Representatives Public Information Office, 2006.
GEMSTONE: The Lake Superior
agate was designated in 1969. (Minnesota Statutes 1.147)
Though some legislators wanted to call the gemstone "The Minnesota Agate,"
Sen. Mel Hanson, sponsor of the
bill, said that rock-hunting clubs in the state preferred keeping the name Lake Superior agate.
According to one news account, members of the Senate General Legislation Committee debated for an hour
over whether it should be the state rock, stone, or gemstone.
Rep. Vernon Hoppe sponsored
the companion bill; it was signed into law by Governor Harold Levander.
Gem: The Lake Superior Agate," DNR Reports, #113, 1988.
rice (zizania aquatica) was designated the state grain in 1977.
(Minnesota Statutes 1.148)
Sen. Collin Peterson sponsored the bill in the Senate as a way of
promoting the state and wild rice. Rep. Don Samuelson was the House chief author. Governor
Rudy Perpich signed the bill into law. While designated our state grain, wild rice is actually a
hardy aquatic annual grass.
Wild rice: Information from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
MOTTO: L’etoile du Nord (translation: “Star of the
North”) was adopted formally as the official state motto in 1861.
Henry Sibley selected this motto to be used on the state seal and the Legislature approved
both the seal and the motto at the same time. (Laws of Minnesota 1861,
Brown, Robert M. "The
Great Seal of the State of Minnesota," Minnesota History (Autumn 1952): p. 126-129.
MUFFIN: The blueberry muffin was designated in 1988.
(Minnesota Statutes 1.1496)
Mary Murphy introduced the bill at the request of a third-grade class from South Terrace
Elementary School in Carlton, Minnesota. The Senate companion was authored by
Sen. Florian Chmielewski. The
third graders were inspired by a Massachusetts class who lobbied for the corn muffin to become an official
symbol in that state. The Minnesota school children chose the blueberry muffin because wheat is an important
crop in southern Minnesota and wild blueberries are common in northern Minnesota. Governor Rudy Perpich signed the law.
MUSHROOM: The morel mushroom (morchella esculenta), commonly known
as the morel, sponge mushroom, or honeycomb morel, was designated in
Minnesota was the first state to have an official state mushroom.
Sen. Gary Laidig and
Rep. Connie Levi were chief authors
of the bill, which was suggested by the Minnesota Mycological Society. Governor Rudy Perpich signed the
bill into law.
Mushrooms," DNR Reports, #115, 1988.
PHOTOGRAPH: “Grace” was designated in 2002.
(Minnesota Statutes 1.1498)
The bill to designate “Grace”
as the official state photograph was sponsored by
Sen. Bob Lessard
and Rep. Loren Solberg. Rep. Solberg
lived in Bovey, the town where the photograph was taken in 1918 by Swedish Immigrant Eric Enstrom.
Governor Jesse Ventura signed the bill into law.
Scott Thistle, “Official State Photo Has Rich History,” St. Paul Pioneer Press 4/1/2002: B1.
SEAL: The official Minnesota state seal was adopted in 1861.
Minnesota Statute 1.135 describes the seal,
its historical symbolism and its uses. Until 1974, the Minnesota Constitution required that the
seal “shall be attached to all official acts of the governor requiring authentication.”
In 1849, Henry Sibley proposed that a picture created by Seth Eastman be adopted as the official Minnesota
territorial seal. This proposal was adopted by the legislature. When Minnesota became a
state in 1858, officials continued to use the territorial seal until 1861 when Minnesota Laws 1861,
Chapter 43 was passed,
creating an official state seal. The 1861 seal showed a settler plowing a field beside the Mississippi
River near St. Anthony Falls. In the background, an Indian on horseback rides toward the setting sun.
A banner shows the state motto “L’Etoile du Nord”. In 1983 the seal was redesigned.
(Laws of Minnesota 1983, Chapter 119) Norway
pines (the state tree) were added behind St. Anthony Falls and the direction of the Indian was changed.
He now rides toward the farmer rather than away from him.
“State Seal,” Roots: Minnesota Almanac 13 (Fall 1984): 21-23. Used with permission .
William Folwell. A History of Minnesota Volume II. (St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society Press, originally published 1924, reprint 1961), p. 357-361. Used with permission.
Robert M. Brown. “The Great Seal of the State of Minnesota,” Minnesota History 33 (Fall 1952): 126-129. Used with permission .
SONG: “Hail Minnesota” was adopted as the Minnesota
state song in 1945.
(Laws of Minnesota 1945, Joint
Written in 1904, “Hail Minnesota” was a song in a University of Minnesota play, “The Apple
of Discord.” “Hail Minnesota” was used as the alma mater for the University of
Minnesota and later adapted for use as the official Minnesota state song. One change was made to the
words. The second line of the song, "Hail to thee, our college dear" became "Hail to thee,
our state so dear." The chief authors were
Rep. Ben D. Hughes and
Sen. Val Imm.
Minnesota, hail to thee!
Hail to thee our state so dear!
Thy light shall ever be
A beacon bright and clear.
Thy sons and daughters true
Will proclaim thee near and far.
They shall guard thy fame
And adore thy name;
Thou shalt be their Northern Star.
Like the stream that bends to sea,
Like the pine that seeks the blue,
Minnesota, still for thee,
Thy sons are strong and true.
From thy woods and waters fair,
From thy prairies waving far,
At thy call they throng,
With their shout and song,
Hailing thee their Northern Star.
SPORT: Ice hockey was named the official state sport of Minnesota in 2009.
(Minnesota Statutes 1.1499)
Sen. Gen Olson first
introduced a bill to designate hockey as the state sport in 2007
was suggested by sixth-grade students at Minnetonka Middle School East, who spent months collecting more than
600 signatures in support of the proposal. Co-author
Sen. David Tomassoni had ties
to the sport; he played professional hockey in Italy for several seasons, and played on the Italian
team in the 1984 Olympics.
The House chief author was Rep.
John Berns, along with fifteen co-authors.
was signed into law by another hockey fan, Governor Tim Pawlenty.
Became Minnesota's State Sport." (Legislative Reference Library research, 2009)
TREE:The red or Norway
pine (Pinus resinosa) was made official in 1953. (Minnesota Statutes
Through the efforts of the Friday Study Club in Minneapolis, and backed by the Minnesota Federation
of Women's Clubs, the Norway pine designation was passed in 1953. It was sponsored by
Sen. Gordon H. Butler and
Rep. George A. French, and
signed into law by Governor C. Elmer Anderson on February 18, 1953. The language of
Chapter 20 noted
the sturdiness and majesty of the tree, and how it helped lay the foundation for the wealth of Minnesota.
Norway pine: Information
from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources