South Dakota

The Mount Rushmore State

The Original

The elements to the flag include

  • Blue field

  • State seal

  • “South Dakota”

  • “The Mount Rushmore State”

  • Twenty-four triangles

  • “State of South Dakota”

  • “Great 1889 Seal”

  • Banner “Under God the People Rule” (state motto)

  • Sky 

  • Hills

  • Steamboat on river

  • Agriculture land

  • Industrial land

The flag of South Dakota was adapted November 9, 1992.

This flag is one of my favorite examples of bad flag design. The North American Vexillology Association rates this flag the 4th worst American flag. In their 2001 survey of 72 Canadian and American flags it was rated 68th.

Keep it simple: There are so many little details in the seal that are complicated to decipher. In fact, it took me a few years to realize that there was river with a steamboat on it not another field with an industrial building.

Use meaningful symbolism: The seal is a representation of the state’s agricultural, industrial, and natural resources. It doesn’t use symbolism well as it shows a literal scene to represent these resources. The triangles on the outside symbolize the sun as the state used to be called the sunshine state.

Use two or three basic colors: In this flag we see three colors being used.

No lettering or seals: The reason this is one of my favorite bad flags is because it says “South Dakota” on it twice. The seal has lettering and there is lettering surrounding the seal.

Be distinctive or be related: This flag is a lighter blue than the twenty-six other state flags with blue fields cut that isn’t enough to make this a distinct flag.

The Redesign

Keep it simple: This flag has three gold triangle mountains with white borders on a blue field with two white stars.

Use meaningful symbolism: The mountains are a symbol of being the Mount Rushmore state. There are three peaks, one for each of the state’s resources (agriculture, industrial, and natural). The one of the two stars is symbolic of the Sioux people Native to the state and “Dakota” which when translated in Sioux means friend. 

Use two or three basic colors: In this flag we see three colors being used.

No lettering or seals: There is no lettering or seals.

Be distinctive or be related: This flag is distinct with the shade of blue and the gold mountains.