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What Is the History of Nevada's State Flag?

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  • Written By: Marjorie McAtee
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 04 November 2016
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Nevada's state flag was adopted on 26 March 1929. The flag is largely dark blue and in the upper left hand corner, there two crossed branches of sagebrush, the state's official flower symbol. Above the flowers, a golden banner bears Nevada's official motto, "Battle Born," considered a reference to the state's induction into the United States during the American Civil War. Inside the wreath is a silver star, symbolic of Nevada's lucrative silver mines, beneath which the state name is written. Though the basic design was adopted in 1929, it was altered slightly by a 1991 act of the state legislature.

Nevada has flown multiple flags at different periods since it became a state on 31 October 1864. At least three radically different designs have been used for Nevada's state flag during the 20th century alone. Nevada's previous state flag pictured the state coat of arms and 36 silver and gold stars, since Nevada was the 36th state admitted to the United States of America. It is believed that these flags were eventually deemed too costly to manufacture. Lieutenant Governor Maurice Sullivan is credited with suggesting a redesign of Nevada's state flag in 1926.

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As other states have done, Nevada announced a flag-design contest and offered the winning designer a cash prize of $25 US Dollars (USD). The basic design of Nevada's state flag was the work of Louis Schellbach III. Though the bill to change the state flag's design is believed to have been proposed in 1926, it was not passed until March 1929.

Nevada's state flag design was altered slightly by an act of the state legislature in 1991. Senator William Raggio proposed that the design be modified. Some believe that a 1989 discovery by researcher Dana Bennett influenced Raggio's decision and the legislative action that followed. Bennett, a specialist in legislative history, discovered that an amendment to the original 1929 flag design law had been misplaced.

As a result, the Nevada state flag's design may not have been technically legal. It is believed that the word "Nevada" should have been place below the sagebrush flowers, rather than between the points of the silver star. The legislators therefore moved the state name slightly, placing it entirely below the silver star, but keeping it within the confines of the sagebrush wreath. Though Schellbach's original flag design has been somewhat altered over the years, many continue to refer to it by his name.

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