Pioneer Press | Changing State Seal Expensive

By Robert Whereatt, Staff Writer

It would be rather expensive to Minnesotans to cover a dark part of the state’s history by changing the Great Seal of the state.  The Minnesota Human Rights Board has recommended a new seal be designed because, the board said, the current seal “illustrates a dark part of our history.”  The seal shows a white man plowing in the foreground, and an Indian in the background riding toward a setting sun.  The white man has a musket and powder horn nearby.  The Indian carries a spear. The rendition of the state’s past apparently offends the state board which has suggested a new seal “which will demonstrate and promote Minnesota’s current attributes and its potential for future development.”

But changing the seal would require more than a simple redesigning of the seal now guarded zealously by its custodian, Secretary of State Joseph Donovan.  About 35,000 notaries public in the state certify documents with notarial seals which have the state Great Seal design in their centers, according to Donovan.  The current cost of replacing these seals is about $8.50 each.  So it would cost almost $300,000 for the notaries to get new seals.

In addition, the Great Seal is in the center of the state flag.  The major manufacturer and distributor of state flags, a Minneapolis firm, estimates conservatively that current value of large state flags sold over the past 11 years is not less than 100,000.The Great Seal is more ubiquitous than just flags and notarial seals.  County and state officers have the seal at the center of their official seals.  Official state stationery has the seal on it and the paper used in bills enacted by the legislature has the seal imprinted in it.  The seal is imprinted in paper used for bonds issued by the state and in blank certificates of various kinds.

Gov. Harold LeVander was asked about the great Seal controversy Wednesday.  “It’s not a matter to be overly concerned about,” he said.  He implied the Human Rights Board could better spend its time in other areas.  “It’s been in existence a long time,” LeVander said.  “It’s difficult to change history or rewrite it.”