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Minnesota State Flag: A Conversation About Inclusion and Representation

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Minnesota’s state flag has long faced criticism for marginalizing Indigenous communities. As Minnesota redefines its state emblems, it sets a precedent for a more nuanced, inclusive approach to Native American imagery that can inspire similar transformations across various sectors, including philanthropy. The State Emblems Redesign Commission included a diverse group of stakeholders, including two Native American women, Shelley Buck, President of Owámniyomni Okhódayapi and Dr. Kate Beane, Executive Director, Minnesota Museum of American Art, who are our special guests for this event. The conversation will be moderated by Leah Lemm, Senior Editor of Native News, Minnesota Public Radio.

Minnesota's new state flag

The decision by Minnesota to change its state flag exemplifies how big institutions can approach narrative change. By engaging in a process that involved input from Native leaders and other community representatives, Minnesota acknowledged the need for a flag that respects the cultural richness of its population. This example underscores the power of community participation and institutional responsiveness in shaping narratives, demonstrating that even symbols deeply embedded in tradition can be reevaluated and redesigned to foster a sense of belonging.

The introduction of a new flag has also sparked a debate around the ownership of state symbols. This illustrates the tensions that surface when pursuing narrative change and raises the question of how institutions can use their influence to amplify those who have historically not been heard. Join this event to hear how the field of philanthropy can play a crucial role in supporting initiatives that prioritize meaningful representation.

This event is open to MCF members and others interested in funding Minnesota's Native organizations. This is an MCF members-only briefing. Log-in details will be provided in your confirmation email. If you have questions about this meeting, please contact Khin Oo,

*WASH MN is a collaboration fiscally sponsored by Indigenous Roots, an arts organization that supports a coalition of people, organizations and small businesses dedicated to the Reclaiming Native Truth research and its findings.   

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