By Katherine Holbrook
Questions regarding Adoption of Resolution 24-06 – Opposition To Redesigned State Flag and Seal:
1.) Were the concerns of expense cited in Sheriff Swedberg’s memo communicated to the State Legislators Emblems Redesign Commission when it was elected in May of last year?
2.) Were they addressed with the Redesign Commission during the months of September 2023 – January 1, 2024, while design submissions were actively pursued? Or December 19, 2023, when the new design was officially approved?
3.) Was discussion within the commission or with state legislators exploring solutions to this economic barrier conducted? How do the commissioners justify “refusal to accept” as the best solution to this economic challenge?
4.) Is Sheriff Swedberg’s memo detailing his estimated cost to the public accessible for public review?
5.) Have the people of Houston County been surveyed in any manner that would safely confirm this resolution represents the majority consent of the Houston County constituent population?
6.) If the answer to the above questions are affirmative, are these actions and relative data documented and available to the public? If the answers are negative, why not?
Summary of my concern as a citizen of Houston County:
It is counter productive, both fiscally and constitutionally, to approach this issue in a contradictory manner.
Please consider the Redesign Commission was granted $45,000 to create a new state flag and seal. That money is wasted if counties like Houston refuse to dialogue or contemplate a compromise.
The concerns expressed now, January 2024, should have been assessed and submitted long before a flag was chosen.
Politicking in a contradictory manner, especially if the appropriate measures to source solutions or survey constituents have not been sought, then money, time and resources already invested are wasted while you risk the prospect of requiring more resources that are needed elsewhere and likely surpass the costs originally in question.
The kind of diplomacy the people of Minnesota, the residents of Houston County need is forward-thinking, solution-minded goals that entail listening, analysis, negotiation and, if need be, compromise. To me, this resolution reflects the opposite.
The flag was redesigned for a number of reasons. To me, the most important being it doesn’t respectfully represent all Minnesotans. It gravely disparages those victimized by our tragic history of colonialism and discrimination. It does not reflect the ethics and morality we, as Minnesotans, aspire to uphold.
Scored 62 out of 72, the former Minnesota state flag miserably failed the standard of “an easily recognizable symbol of unity” by the NAVA flag association. This score was based on technical design, alone, unrelated to the contentious symbolism of the illustration.
The MN state flag has been denounced for reinflicting wounds of racism, assimilation, oppression, genocide and colonialism for decades. To deny this is to turn a deaf ear to the voices of the Minnesota people whom elected officials, such as yourselves, have taken an oath to represent.
The former flag design was inspired by a poem written by Mary Eastman, wife of its designer, Seth Eastman, which included such lines as: “…Give way young warrior, thou and thy steed give way,… the white man claims them, now…” Please, consider what this means to us as citizens of Minnesota. Please reflect upon how this image affects us and why it is not a unifying, peaceful image.
To me, the new design is beautiful. It is unifying in simple, geographically meaningful symbolism that is easily recognizable and everyone can claim as their own.
Your decision, commissioners, to oppose state’s order for a new flag design does not have my support, your “message” to state legislators does not have my signature, and your resolution does not have my consent.
I hope you will take the time to review the questions and provide the public with answers.
I am encouraged by the new design and opposed to Resolution 24-06, however, I am also discouraged with the brand of diplomacy, or lack thereof, becoming pervasive in America’s political canvas. I believe a democracy requires research, timely dialogue and problem solving initiatives over retro resistance policies when there are options available.
Thank you so much for your time, service and consideration.