South Dakota

South Dakota’s flag has a sad, sad history to it. Sad because it documents the slow degeneration of a cromulent state flag into another vexillological abomination: a seal on sheet, with the name and a tourism slogan. (The fact that the tourism slogan promotes an attraction that wrecked a site sacred to Native Americans, is just shit icing on the shit cake.)

You might not be able to read it at this size, but not only does it say “SOUTH DAKOTA” at the top of the flag, it also says “SOUTH DAKOTA” at the top of the seal. The seal also contains a theocratic motto (fuck that), the year the state was admitted to the Union (no one cares), and a messy, symbolism-littered illustration of life in South Dakota that you can’t even make out at full size.

I’m not gonna tell you that the original flag was a really good one, because it wasn’t. It had the name and the state’s nickname on it, which is kinda bad. Then the idiots in the South Dakota legislature added the state seal. And in 1992 they updated the nickname to push their one big tourist attraction. The result is up there at the top. Feh.

In my initial triage on the current flag, I ripped off the seal and deleted the words, and I was tempted to just go with the yellow sunburst on a blue field as a lucky discovery. But I felt it was missing something, something that said South Dakota (without literally saying “South Dakota”). So I looked to Native American symbology, and added a thunderbird design within the sunburst.

 

Several years ago, celebrated South Dakota artist Dick Termes undertood the same project and overhauled the flag. In 2012 he found a champion for it in legislator Bernie Hunhoff. But the idiots running the capital stonewalled it. Fuck them. It’s a good design, and I’m including it here as an alternate to mine. Termes had a similar idea, but instead of the thunderbird, he added a medicine wheel, another emblem native to the people of the region. He did more with the sunburst, extending the four-points symbology of the medicine wheel. I like it, and South Dakota should take a break from fucking with people’s lives with right-wing legislation, and and adopt it.

P.S. Termes’ gallery should be South Dakota’s biggest tourist attraction. I’ve never been there, but it looks awesome.

Wyoming

If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you can probably figure this one out for yourself. Wyoming has a fairly straightforward red, white, and blue graphic design with a simple white silhouette of a bison in the middle.

But some idiot put the state seal in the middle of the bison. The seal of course has the name of the state, a motto, a year, and an illustration. Plus the idiot didn’t leave a margin around the seal, so it almost touches the edges of the bison. A sadly elementary graphic-design fuck up.

How do we fix this?


That’s right: remove the fucking state seal.

Georgia

The history of the flags of Georgia is a long history of horrible, racist, and sometimes horrible and racist flags. Instead of just showing you the latest flag and my replacement, I think it’s instructive to look back at the whole history of Georgia’s flags. If nothing else, it’ll show you how little I had to work with that could be salvaged.

The state’s original flag was your standard American abomination: the state seal on a field of blue. Even in its fairly simple form, it’s an illustration of a person and several words, in a fussy mess that looks like every other crappy state flag. The fact that it was hastily created to fill the need for a state flag in the South’s war of treason against the United States just makes it worse.

Fifteen years after losing that war, the state adopted a proper flag. It’s not technically a bad design… purely as flag designs go. But it’s a little derivative, and it was adopted as a very deliberate homage to the flag of a certain federation of which Georgia was a founding member.

No, not the United States. The Confederate States. For comparison, here is the official flag of the CSA, which was nicknamed “The Stars and Bars”. You’d probably guess by now that I don’t care for the circle of stars, which is too cluttered, but otherwise it isn’t a horrible design… except that it fails the most fundamental purpose of a flag, which was to be easily recognized on the battlefield. This dumb-as-fuck design looked too much like the flag of the country they were in treason against especially in battle, which literally confused people who were trying to kill each other, and that’s why this flag never became popular, even among racists. Instead, racists fondly remember the battle flag. You know that one.

In 1902, Georgia combined their Confederacy-wannabe flag with their regiment-of-the-Confederate-army flag, by stuffing their state seal into the smaller field of blue. I’m not gonna show that one, because you can figure it out in your head. A few years later, they added the word “GEORGIA” and replaced the seal with… a worse version of the seal. I’m not gonna show that one, because I am not a cruel person. In 1920 they redrew the seal as a white circle with blue lines, and the date 1776 to pretend that they’d forgotten about 1861 and now considered themselves part of the United States.

In the 1956, the legislature of Georgia realized that they were entering modern times, so they adopted a new flag without all that baggage of the past, one that represented the future…. oh, who am I kidding? They pulled down their pants and squeezed out a turd to show their contempt for the present and the future, inserted their heads into the vacancy, and replaced the bars that were too much like the stripes of the United States flag, with the fucking Battle Flag of the Confederacy, to show just how racist the white people of Georgia still were. P.S. it’s also an ugly design, shoving two incompatible flags together.

This lasted until 2001. Incredible.

With the 21st century underway, there was considerable pressure for Georgia to give up on the fucking Confederacy and join the 20th century. The governor, bless his heart, proposed and rammed thru a replacement. Which was god-awful in oh so many ways.

The state seal was the focus again. But with the 13 stars representing the original colonies Confederate states around it. And a dumb-as-fuck, ugly-as-shit banner showing previous flags flown over Georgia. The original Betsy Ross flag. The Confederate regimental flag. The neo-Confederate seal flag. The neo-Confederate battle flag. And the U.S. flag. And “IN GOD WE TRUST” at the bottom, just to make sure that people also understood that freedom of religion is a lie. This is the flag that earned Georgia the position of 72nd out of 72 in the North American Vexillological Assocation’s survey of U.S./Canadian flags. It’s that fucking bad.

Hint: you can’t fix the problem of having Confederate symbols on the flag by making them smaller, in a design that looks absofuckinglutely horrible.

The “good” news is that this flag was so bad that the state legislature was prompted to replace it. Which could have been a happy ending. But they replaced it with this. That’s right: the actually went back to the Confederate States of America flag design, this time with the state seal and the stars honoring the 13 Confederate states.

Fuck that shit. Fuck all of that shit. I can’t even.

Georgia’s new flag doesn’t get to use the colors of the Confederate flags. Too many feeble attempts to pass them off as U.S. colors. Instead it gets the 1879 flag redone in the colors of Georgia’s most famous crop: peaches. Still leaves a sour taste in my mouth, but it’s at least a cromulent flag.

Wisconsin

Why do they even bother? It’s a shield on a field. And an especially bad coat of arms at that, with obscure heraldry and symbolism shoved into every nook and cranny. There’s even a US shield shoved into the middle. Both the US motto, and a fucking state motto: “Forward”. Because “Reverse” hadn’t been invented yet. Who are those two men? No one cares.

Then in the 1980s, because their crappy flag looked like every other crappy shield-on-a-field flag, instead of fixing it, they added the name of the state spelled out in big letters at the top, and presumably the year it joined the union at the bottom. No one cares. At least they didn’t litter it with (guessing) 30 stars to show what order it joined in. Which no one cares about, I might add.

This flag is a reason for people who live in Wisconsin to regret that fact. I was tempted to chuck the whole fucking thing out and start from scratch, but then I noticed something. A germ of an idea that I could salvage.

Down in the lower-right of the state seal is a stacked array of little triangles, representing mineral mining (like little ingots). A couple of those can be rearranged into the icon for fast-forward. So I salvaged the fucking motto: Forward!

Why are the triangles yellow? It’s what Wisconsin is actually known for: cheese wedges.

The background colors were my own idea. I’ve been to Wisconsin a number of times, and I remember that it includes some beautiful woodlands, and it has more Great Lakes shoreline than any state except Michigan. So I symbolized those with green and blue.

North Dakota

Simplify.

North Dakota’s flag is yet another crappy flag, created by just slapping emblems on a blue background and calling it a flag. In this case, they spelled out the name of the state (sigh), added a direct copy of the eagle from the U.S. seal, even down to the “E Pluribus Unum” motto (SIGH), and threw in thirteen stars, because… Betsy Ross (SIGH)! There almost nothing remotely original or distinctive about it.

Almost.

The solution was… simple. Remove the name. Remove the U.S. Seal and Motto. Remove all but one of the stars, and enlarge it. And enlarge the halo/crown to match. There ya go!