The flag of the state of North Dakota was adopted on March 3, 1911. The flag is rectangular with a dark blue background. The flag features a bald eagle with a red, white, and blue shield. In its feet, the eagle holds an olive branch and a bundle of arrows. A gold sunburst and thirteen gold stars appear above the eagle. The eagle holds a ribbon in its mouth; on the ribbon is the text, “One nation made up of many states.” A red and gold scroll appears below the eagle with the text “North Dakota.”
Rather than containing images symbolic of state, land, and people of North Dakota, the flag of North Dakota contains images important to the United States as a whole. The image of the bald eagle with the olive branch, bundle of arrows, and shield, for example, closely resembles the United States Coat of Arms, Great Seal of the United States, and the Seal of the President of the United States.
The bald eagle symbolizes freedom and the founding fathers often compared the United States to the characteristics of this powerful bird. The shield lies on the eagle’s breast without any support, representing the thought that the United States must rely on its own virtues. The thirteen stripes on the shield—as well as the thirteen gold stars above the eagle—represent the original thirteen colonies of the United States. The olive branch symbolizes the power of peace, while the arrows symbolize the power of war.
The red, white, and blue colors in the shield contain the same symbolic meanings as the colors of the American flag. The white symbolizes innocence and purity; the red represents valor and strength, and the blue represents justice and perseverance.
The flag of the state of North Dakota is nearly identical to the flag the North Dakota infantry carried during both the Spanish American War and the Phillipine-American War. In 1953, a bill was introduced in the North Carolina Legislative Assembly to change the flag on the basis that it too closely resembles the United States Coat of Arms and other national seals; however the bill was promptly defeated in the same year.