What Is the History of Oklahoma's State Flag?

Marjorie McAtee

Oklahoma's state flag has been in use in some form or another since about 1925. It typically displays an Osage warrior shield, fabricated of buffalo hide and hung with eagle feathers. A calumet, or Native American peace pipe, and an olive branch are depicted as crossed upon the shield, and are said to be symbolic of peace and harmony between white and native residents of the state of Oklahoma. The shield bears several white crosses, which are considered to be the Native American symbol for stars, and are said to represent the search for excellence. These symbols are generally depicted against a sky blue background, which is believed to honor the first recognized flag of any Native American nation -- the plain blue flag typically flown by the Choctaw Nation during the American Civil War.

Woman holding a book
Woman holding a book

The flag currently used to represent the state of Oklahoma was adopted on 2 April 1925. The preceding state flag, used from about 1911 to about 1925, displayed a blue-edged, white star on a bright red background. The number 46 was typically superimposed inside the star, since Oklahoma was the 46th state admitted to the United States. Most historians believe that the red flag fell out of favor in the early 1920s, as the color red became synonymous with Communism in the minds of many. In 1924, the Oklahoma Daughters of the American Revolution held a contest to redesign Oklahoma's state flag.

Louise Fluke is credited with the design of Oklahoma's current state flag. Mrs. Fluke's design is said to promote solidarity between European-Americans and Native Americans. The symbolism of the flag is said to give homage to more than 60 Native American tribes.

The flag currently flown as Oklahoma's state flag has been redesigned twice since its official adoption in 1925. In 1941, the legislature chose to add the state's name to the flag, in white letters beneath the Osage shield. It is believed that some state residents resisted this amendment, due to feelings that it rendered the flag redundant.

Oklahoma's state flag design was again amended in 1988. Various flag manufacturers were found to be using dyes that varied somewhat in hue, and the state legislature therefore amended Oklahoma's state flag law in an attempt to standardize the use of dyes. The new regulation is believed to produce state flags more consistent in color.

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