The Great Seal of the State of Minnesota is the insignia that the secretary of state affixes to government papers and documents to make them official. A seal for the territory of Minnesota was adopted in 1849 and approved by Governor Ramsey and the territorial legislature. When Minnesota became a state on May 11, 1858, there was no official state seal and, according to law, no official act could be undertaken without it. The territorial seal was used as a state seal until Governor Sibley started using a new design. When the legislature did not approve Governor Sibley’s design, he made some changes, including changing the original Latin motto to the French l’étoile du nord, thereby making Minnesota the North Star State. In 1861 the legislature adopted the new design, making it the official state seal. In 1983, the legislature altered the seal further and clearly spelled out details with the hope that there would be a single rendition and not wide variations that had occurred in some past artistic interpretations.
There is great symbolism to items inscribed on the seal: The sun, visible on the western horizon, signifies the flat plains covering much of Minnesota. The Indian on horseback is riding due south and represents the Indian heritage of Minnesota. The Indian’s horse and spear and pioneer’s axe, rifle, and plow represent tools that were used for hunting and labor. The stump symbolizes the importance of the lumber industry in Minnesota. The Mississippi River and St. Anthony Falls are depicted to note the importance of these resources in transportation and industry. The cultivated ground and the plow symbolize the importance of agriculture in Minnesota. Beyond the falls, three pine trees represent the state tree and the three great pine regions of Minnesota–St. Croix, Mississippi, and Lake Superior.
Minnesota Statutes 1998, Table of Chapters - 1.135 State seal
Use of the State Seal
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