State of Utah
UseCivil and state flag Small vexillological symbol or pictogram in black and white showing the different uses of the flagSmall vexillological symbol or pictogram in black and white showing the different uses of the flagReverse side is mirror image of obverse side
AdoptedJuly 25, 1913; 110 years ago (1913-07-25) (reaffirmed on
February 16, 2011; 12 years ago (2011-02-16)[1][2][3][4])
DesignA state coat of arms encircled in a golden circle with the number "1896" written in white text, on a field of dark navy blue.
Beehive Flag
Voted on March 2, 2023, to become the new official state flag as of March 9, 2024.
UseIncoming redesign Small vexillological symbol or pictogram in black and white showing the different uses of the flag
AdoptedTo be adopted by March 9, 2024; 31 days' time (2024-03-09)

The flag of the state of Utah was adopted in February 2011 and consists of the seal of Utah encircled in a golden circle on a background of dark navy blue. It replaced a previous, albeit rather similar, flag that had been in use since 1913.[1][2][3][4] It is one of the state flags of the United States.

From 2018 to 2023, the state legislature worked on legislation to assess the need for a new flag and to design a new flag with citizen input. The new flag design was passed during the 2023 legislative session and is set to become official in March 2024.[5][6][7]


The current flag (top) and the forthcoming state flag (bottom) flying over the Utah State Capitol

A bald eagle, the national bird of the United States, symbolizes protection in peace and war. The sego lily, the state flower of Utah, represents peace. The state motto "Industry" and the beehive represent progress and hard work. The U.S. flags show Utah's support and commitment to the United States. The state name "Utah" appears below the beehive. The date 1847 represents the year the Mormon pioneers entered the Salt Lake Valley, while 1896 represents the year that Utah was admitted as a state. The six arrows represent the six Native American tribes that live in Utah (Shoshone, Goshute, Navajo, Paiute, Northern Utes, and White Mesa Utes). David Rindlisbach (Art Director) placed 45 stars on the flag to represent Utah's status as the 45th state to join the Union,[8] though the current design has 46 stars (23 on each flag).

Alternatively, the sego lily, a flowering plant that survives in the arid Great Basin climate, provided food to the early pioneer colony, helping the settlers survive the harsh winters after their arrival in the Salt Lake Valley. Thus it became the state flower. The eagle and flanking flags are also important symbols; Utah's is one of the few state flags to carry the American flag as part of the design. This is because the Mormon settlers were thought not to be loyal to the United States, which was one of the reasons statehood was not granted to Utah until nearly 50 years after Euro-American settlement.

It is one of ten U.S. state flags to feature an eagle, alongside those of Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Missouri, New York, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Wyoming. It is also one of two U.S. state flags to contain an image of the Stars and Stripes flag, the other being that of New Hampshire.



Mormon pioneers flag

United States flag (center) pre-2011 Utah state flag (left) and the Mormon pioneers flag[9] (right)

Flag designed by council in 1848, this flag was the first flag designed to unify the Saints as they celebrated their first pioneer day. This flag was lost in the 1850s but later recreated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 2002 and has flown on Ensign Peak since.

Flag of the State of Deseret

According to most descriptions, the flag of the State of Deseret was similar to the flag of the State of Utah, but as it was not standardized, multiple other secular and religious alternatives were also used.[10]

Utah Territory

A display at the Utah State Capitol describing the history of the flag

Blue fabric with the old coat of arms of Utah Territory.

State of Utah

1903 design

The flag's basic design uses the Seal of Utah which was adopted by the state legislature on April 3, 1896.[12] The seal was designed by artist Harry Edwards, and has similarities with the seal of the Utah Territory. The state's first flag was created in March 1903 to be used at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis, Missouri. Heber M. Wells, the governor of Utah, asked the Utah State Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution to oversee the creation of a flag. On May 1, 1903, the governor and his delegation marched, under the new flag, in the parade of states.[13] The flag was blue, with the state seal and the year "1896" hand-embroidered in white thread in the flag's center. Initially, this flag was known as the "Governor's Flag" until Senate Joint Resolution 17 was passed by the legislature on March 9, 1911, making it the official state flag.[14]

There is currently no evidence that the Utah Territory flag was made into an actual flag to fly during the Territory's existence (1850–1896), though copies have since been made.

1913 design

In 1912, the Sons and Daughters of Utah Pioneers ordered a custom made copy of the newly adopted flag to be presented to the recently commissioned battleship USS Utah. When the flag arrived, the group discovered that the shield on the flag was in full color instead of white, and the manufacturer had added a gold ring around the shield. Rather than have the flag remade, Annie Wells Cannon introduced HJR 1 and the Utah legislature changed the law to allow the manufacturer's changes to become part of the official flag. Prior to being received by the ship on June 25, 1913, the new flag was displayed at the state capitol in January 1913, then in the ZCMI windows on Main Street and at a ball held in honor of the flag.

During the 59th state legislative session in 2011, a Concurrent Resolution (HCR002) was adopted requiring flag makers to fix a mistake found on all then-current Utah state flags.[1][2] The mistake originated in 1922 when a flag maker misplaced the year 1847, by stitching it just above the year 1896, instead of in its correct position on the shield. It is believed every flag made since 1922 used this flag as a model, and the mistake persisted for 89 years.[3] Later that same 2011 session, House Bill #490 passed the legislature, making March 9 an annual Utah State Flag day.[4]

History of redesign attempts

1927 redesign attempt

Proposed flag of Utah (1927)[16] Small vexillological symbol or pictogram in black and white showing the different uses of the flag

In 1927, then-Governor George Dern, during his address to the Utah State Legislature, requested the state adopt a much simpler flag that could be made quickly and cheaply and could fly alongside the American flag. Nothing was done, however, until in 1930 when flag enthusiast Lilliebell Falck, from Ogden, approached him with a few simplified designs. Her favorite was a white beehive with 28 lines to represent Utah's counties. However, with growing opposition to the design by the Sons and Daughters of Utah Pioneers, the design was eventually scrapped later that year. [17]

Salt Lake Tribune design contest (2002)

In 2002, The Salt Lake Tribune, along with the North American Vexillological Association, solicited designs for a new state flag.[18][19] Over 1,000 designs were collected, with the top 35 selected for judging.[20] However, no flags from this contest were adopted by the state.

Renewed design effort (2018–2023)

Proposed flag of Utah (2019)
Proposed flag of Utah (2019)

In 2018, State Representatives Steve Handy and Keven Stratton proposed 2 different approaches to updating the Utah flag. Representative Handy proposed creating a flag commission to receive input and designs from the public, with the ultimate goal of proposing a new flag to the legislature. Representative Stratton sponsored separate legislation to adopt a specific flag design.[21] The Utah House of Representatives was more amenable to a proposal to involve the public with a commission, but ultimately both efforts failed in 2019.[22][23][24]

Representative Handy proposed another bill in 2020, this time keeping the current flag as a "historical flag".[25] However the effort stalled in the House Political Subdivions Committee on a tie vote.[1]

After the 2020 defeat, State Senator Daniel McCay started the bill in the Utah Senate. To prepare for the debate, the House and Senate watched a Ted Talk by Roman Mars, "Why city flags may be the worst designed thing you've never noticed."[2] In addition to the Ted Talk, the lead designer for the Utah Jazz, Ben Barnes, shared a set of prototype designs for lawmakers.[26]

Commemorative Flag of Utah (2021)
Commemorative Flag of Utah (2021)

In 2021, Senator McCay sponsored a bill to create a task force to redesign the Utah state flag.[27] The bill also designated an official flag to commemorate the 125th anniversary of Utah's statehood.[28] The bill passed in the House and the Senate[27] and was signed into law by Governor Spencer Cox.[29]

In 2022, the Utah State Flag Task Force accepted design submissions from the public. 5,703 designs were submitted, 2,500 of which were submitted by students.[30] In September, 20 semifinalist designs were announced and Utahns were asked to submit their feedback.[31] During the month-long comment period, 44,000 survey responses were given.

Flag proposed by the Utah State Flag Task Force
Flag proposed by the Utah State Flag Task Force

On November 10, 2022, the Task Force submitted a final proposal to the Utah State Legislature for adoption as the official state flag.[30] On January 18, 2023, the Utah Senate Business and Labor Committee voted 6–1 to advance the flag to the State Senate, with McCay saying he hoped the new flag design will reach Spencer Cox's desk by March 3.[32]

2022 Utah Flag design
2022 Utah Flag design

On January 30, 2023, the State Senate approved the bill 17–10, which advanced to the State House of Representatives for approval.[33] However, the flag was slightly modified; the eight-pointed star was replaced by a five-pointed star after a Native American constituent expressed reservations over the former, saying it looked more like an asterisk from a distance. The eight pointed star represented the eight federally-recognized nations, while the five pointed star represents the five historical nations in Utah (Navajo, Shoshone, Goshute, Paiute and Ute).[34]

On March 2, 2023, the Utah House of Representatives approved the bill 40-35, and the State Senate passed the concurrence vote 19-9-1, sending the bill to the governor's desk for signing.[35]

Implementation and 2011 flag retention efforts

The bill was signed by Governor Cox on March 21, 2023, along with an executive order formalizing the change. The bill—and the new flag—will go into effect by March 9, 2024, thus providing a one-year phase-in period to gradually transition to the new flag. The bill also designates the prior design as the official historic flag which may continue to be used by all.[36][6] The executive order mandates that the historic flag be flown above the state capitol every day of the year and once the bill goes into effect, the two flags should be flown from different flagpoles on capitol grounds. The order also petitions the legislature to amend the bill to allow the new flag to be flown below the historic flag when they are flown together.[37]

Opponents of the new flag announced a campaign to initiate a referendum on the adoption on the flag, hoping to retain the old flag, in spite of language in the bill that retains the historic flag.[38] The signature campaign failed, ultimately receiving only 21,030 verified signatures; official verification was halted after fewer than 50,000 signatures of the 134,298 required were submitted to county clerks.[39] Flag opponents have since launched another signature campaign to put the issue on the 2024 ballot as an initiative. [40] At a Utah Republican Party convention held on April 22, an "overwhelming" number of the 2,000 delegates that attended voted to oppose the new flag.[41] A public opinion poll conducted by the Hinckley Institute of Politics found that 48% of respondents supported the new flag, 35% opposed it, and 17% didn't know.[42]

On May 17, 2023, the Utah State Capitol raised the new flag for the first time.[43]

See also


  1. ^ a b c Dan Bammes (2011-02-17). "Legislature: Fixing the Flag". KUER-FM. Archived from the original on 2011-07-24. Retrieved 2011-02-17.
  2. ^ a b c "Utah State Flag Concurrent Resolution, 2011 General Session, State of Utah". Retrieved February 17, 2011.
  3. ^ a b c Keith McCord (12 February 2011). "Resolution aims to correct state flag goof". KSL-TV. Retrieved 16 February 2011.
  4. ^ a b c Dennis Romboy (9 March 2011). "Utahns celebrate first State Flag Day". KSL-TV. Retrieved 10 March 2011.
  5. ^ Wood, Benjamin (December 10, 2018). "Utah's state flag is an 'S.O.B.' and one Republican lawmaker thinks it's time for a change". The Salt Lake Tribune. Retrieved May 5, 2020.
  6. ^ a b Schott, Bryan (21 March 2023). "Utah has a new state flag after Gov. Cox signs banner bill — for now". The Salt Lake Tribune.
  7. ^ "Gov. Cox issues executive order outlining how to display the historic state flag and new state flag". Governor Spencer J. Cox.
  8. ^ "Centennial Seal Mosaic". Retrieved May 10, 2020.
  9. ^ "John Wardle's flag". Flags of the World. Retrieved 2013-08-22.
  10. ^ Walker, Ronald W. "A Banner is Unfurled" Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought Volume 26 Number 4, Winter 1993, pages 71–91.
  11. ^ "FlagTerritorial.jpg".
  12. ^ State of Utah (2010). "Utah State Flag and Seal". Pioneer: Utah's Online Library. Archived from the original on 10 November 2012. Retrieved 16 February 2011.
  13. ^ Lee Davidson (25 December 2010). "Time to fix 88-year-old mistake in Utah flag?". The Salt Lake Tribune. Retrieved 16 February 2011.
  14. ^ "The history of the Flag of Utah". blog. 31 January 2011. Retrieved 16 February 2011.
  15. ^ "Flag | More Than A Flag".
  16. ^ "Raising a flag: The mistakes and struggles that made Utah's state flags". 21 April 2023. Retrieved 2023-07-30.
  17. ^ "Raising a flag: The mistakes and struggles that made Utah's state flags". 21 April 2023. Retrieved 2023-07-30.
  18. ^ "Here's your chance to pick Salt Lake City's new flag". Building Salt Lake. 2020-07-10. Retrieved 2022-03-31.
  19. ^ "NAVA 36 Flag Design" (PDF). June 2002. Retrieved 24 September 2023.
  20. ^ Ted Kaye. "A New Flag For Utah? The Utah Flag Design Contest". NAVA News (Issue #174). April–June 2002.
  21. ^ Wood, Benjamin (February 9, 2019). "A former candidate for Utah governor is pushing a redesign of the state flag, and he's got a sponsor on Capitol Hill". The Salt Lake Tribune. Retrieved May 5, 2020.
  22. ^ Wood, Benjamin (February 13, 2019). "Facing dueling state flag proposals, a Utah House committee says deliberation is better than a quick redesign". The Salt Lake Tribune. Retrieved May 5, 2020.
  23. ^ Wood, Benjamin (February 28, 2019). "'Let's submit designs': New version of state flag bill would launch a review of replacement ideas". The Salt Lake Tribune. Retrieved May 5, 2020.
  24. ^ Wood, Benjamin (March 8, 2019). "Utah House says 'yes' to a review of the state flag". The Salt Lake Tribune. Retrieved May 5, 2020.
  25. ^ Wood, Benjamin (February 5, 2020). "Utah lawmaker taking another stab at updating the state flag". The Salt Lake Tribune. Retrieved May 5, 2020.
  26. ^ Gehrke, Robert (February 19, 2020). "Robert Gehrke: Utah's state flag is fine, but maybe an update wouldn't hurt". The Salt Lake Tribune. Retrieved May 5, 2020.
  27. ^ a b Petersen, Hannah (4 March 2021). "Don't like the look of the state flag? Lawmakers OK task force to look at redesign". Deseret News. Archived from the original on 10 March 2021. Retrieved 11 March 2021.
  28. ^ Rodgers, Bethany (2 March 2021). "Proposed Utah flag design could be in trouble over its use by DezNat". The Salt Lake Tribune. Archived from the original on 3 March 2021. Retrieved 11 March 2021.
  29. ^ McKellar, Katie (17 March 2021). "Governor signs Dixie State name change bill, slew of police reform measures". Deseret News. Archived from the original on 19 March 2021. Retrieved 25 May 2021.
  30. ^ a b Jayswal, Palak (10 November 2022). "New design for Utah's flag: A beehive, mountains and a symbolic star". The Salt Lake Tribune. Archived from the original on 14 November 2022. Retrieved 15 November 2022.
  31. ^ Williams, Carter (8 September 2022). "Does one of these flags say 'Utah' to you? Lawmaker teases flag finalist 'sneak peek'". Deseret News. Archived from the original on 25 September 2022. Retrieved 15 November 2022.
  32. ^ Williams, Carter (January 18, 2023). "Proposed Utah flag redesign clears 1st legislative hurdle in divided room". KSL. Retrieved January 22, 2023.
  33. ^ Winslow, Ben (January 30, 2023). "New Utah state flag moves closer to reality after passing in Senate". FOX 13. Retrieved January 30, 2023.
  34. ^ Coombs, Carlene (30 January 2023). "Newly designed state flag will better represent Utah's historic tribal nations, senator says". The Salt Lake Tribune.
  35. ^ Ellis, Josh (2 March 2023). "Utah Legislature approves new state flag". KSL.
  36. ^ "SB0031". Retrieved 2023-03-04.
  37. ^ Williams, Carter (2023-03-21). "Cox signs bill to create new flag, issues order on how 'historical' flag will be flown". KSL-TV. Retrieved 2023-03-22.
  38. ^ Hugo, Rikard-Bell (13 April 2023). "Ahead of a final deadline on Thursday, state flag referendum falls short". KSL Newsradio. Retrieved 13 April 2023.
  39. ^ (PDF) ((cite web)): Missing or empty |title= (help)
  40. ^ Tavss, Jeff (2 May 2023). "Opposition group files initiative in new attempt to halt new Utah state flag". FOX 13. Retrieved 2023-05-03.
  41. ^ Schott, Bryan (22 April 2023). "'Utah, like Florida, is where freedom works,' Gov. Ron DeSantis tells Utah GOP during keynote speech". The Salt Lake Tribune. Retrieved 4 May 2023.
  42. ^ McKinlay, Hannah (6 April 2023). "Poll: More Utahns support the new state flag than oppose it". Deseret News. Retrieved 7 April 2023.
  43. ^ Williams, Carter (17 May 2023). "Utah's new flag flies above Utah Capitol for the 1st time". KSL. Retrieved 17 May 2023.

Further reading