Montana Flag: Description, History & Symbolism

The Montana flag features the state seal in the centre of a dark blue field with the state’s name above the seal. The blue field is reminiscent of the American flag’s blue, highlighting Montana’s affiliation with the rest of the country.

It was during the Spanish-American War that the state flag of Montana was first used. The First Montana Infantry flew the first known example of this flag in 1898.

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What is the History of the Montana Flag?

The seal depicts a farmer’s tools—a plough, shovel, and pick—laid out on a field in front of the Missouri River’s Great Falls. Oro y plata (Spanish meaning “Gold and silver”) is the state motto and it can be found on the ribbon.

The state’s present flag was approved in 1905, and the term “Montana” was placed above the seal in 1981.

Helvetica Bold was chosen as the font for “Montana” in 1985, prompting yet another change to the flag.

Montanans who fought in the Spanish-American War flew this flag before it was officially recognized as the state’s standard.

The North American Vexillological Association (NAVA) ranked the flag of Montana as the third poorest in North America, coming in at number 70 out of a total of 72 provinces, states, and territories.

The flag of Nebraska was voted second worst after the flag of Georgia (which has since been altered) was deemed the worst.

Flags with lettering or complicated seals scored the lowest in the NAVA survey, and almost half of the states in the United States utilize blue fields, making them hard to discern.


Read also: Kansas Flag: History, Description, and Symbol


What Does the Montana Flag Look Like?

Montana Flag
Picture of the Montana Flag

The provisional legislature adopted the state seal in 1865, and it has remained unchanged since then.

Montana is known for its enormous wilderness and agricultural bounty, both of which are represented in the seal by the depiction of a river and forest.

Great Falls, a famous site, serves as the inspiration for most of the design. The state motto, “Oro y plata” (“Gold and silver”), appears on a ribbon in the seal, and the plough and crossed pick and shovel represent agriculture and the mining industry, respectively.

The state flag originally featured a dark blue background with the state seal (without the encircling wording) in the centre, and it was based on the banner of the First Montana infantry regiment during the Spanish-American War (1898).

Since the fly end of the army flag had been lost, the legislation mandated that only the top and bottom edges of the official state flag be fringed.

Adopted in 1905, the flag’s uniqueness quickly faded as other states began using identical designs. The name “Montana” was added above the seal by the legislature as a change in 1981.


Read also: Indiana Flag: History, Description, and Symbolism


Tip-Off: What Does the Montana Flag Symbolize?

The state’s namesake Rocky Mountains serve as inspiration for the design of the initial set of mountains. The Great Falls and the Missouri River are also a part of this region.

Five separate waterfalls spread out over a distance of ten miles make up the Great Falls, a riverside tourist hotspot.

Colter Falls (5.7 m), Crooked Falls (19 m), Black Eagle Falls (26 m), Rainbow Falls (44 m), and Big Falls (87 m) are the other names for these water features.

Trees, symbolizing the state’s forests and natural splendour, may be seen to the left of the river.

A plough and a crossed pick and shovel may be seen in the foreground. These represent the state’s key agricultural and mining sectors.

A ribbon reading “Oro y plata” hangs at the bottom of the seal, representing the state motto. Another reference to the state’s mining history, its motto translates to “gold and silver” in Spanish.

Among its many unofficial moniker, “The Treasure State” best describes Montana. This is because of the abundant gold and silver deposits in the region’s mountains.

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