Representing the American Indian ~ Oklahoma State Flag Design
Original Oklahoma State Flag
Oklahoma's state legislature did not adopt a flag until almost four years after the state was admitted into the Union . Originally, it was an entirely red flag with a white star edged in blue centered on the red background. The number 46, indicating Oklahoma’s entry into the United States as the 46th state, was centered in the star. The red, white and blue coloration coincided with the colors found in the United States flag.
Because of rising anti-communist sentiment, many citizens associated the large red flag and the white star as being too closely related to symbols representing communism (see flag to the right). The flag was disdained by many of Oklahoma’s citizens.
Contest Held to Change Flag
The state legislature decided that a new flag should be designed that would better represent the state and its peoples. The flag that was ultimately chosen to represent the state, whose population was predominantly American Indian, symbolically represents its native peoples and its unique past very well.
In 1924, the Daughters of the American Revolution were asked to sponsor a contest to find a winning flag design to best represent the state of Oklahoma. Louise Fluke, an artist and an Oklahoma resident herself came up with the inspirational winning design. Her design was officially adopted on April 2, 1925. There has been only one change to the flag since then – and that was to add the word “Oklahoma” below the graphic already on the flag. Despite the fact that some people were opposed to this seemingly unnecessary change (They felt it obvious that the flag represented Oklahoma, and it was a redundancy.), the change was adopted in 1941.
New Flag Represented the People
The new flag design, which honors more than 60 groups of Native Americans, more than adequately addressed the need for a flag to represent its peoples. The background and main color of the new flag was French-blue. This blue represents the Choctaw flag of the American Civil War, which was flown by the Native American Choctaw Nation during that conflict. The most predominate aspect of the design on the flag is the Osage Nation buffalo-skin shield with seven white brown-tipped eagle feathers dangling from it, again to symbolize the importance of the Native American Indian. Six brown crosses, which are Native American symbols for stars, are placed on the front of the shield. The controversial text “Oklahoma” is white and was placed below the shield.
Layered over the shield at right angles to each other are the ceremonial peace pipe and the olive branch. These two symbols represented the peace and harmony that had been achieved between the Native American peoples and the European-Americans who settled in the area.
This flag is the flag we see flying proudly today.
I salute the flag of the State of Oklahoma. Its symbols of peace unite all people.
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