Section 4: The Flag of North Dakota

The flag carried by the First North Dakota Volunteers to war in the Philippines had a blue background. In the center was an eagle holding an olive branch in one claw and several arrows in the other. Above the eagle’s head were 13 stars. In its beak, the eagle carried a banner with E Pluribus Unum written on it. (See Image 14)

Image 14: Two soldiers of the First North Dakota Volunteers hold the United States flag and the flag representing the First North Dakota Volunteers. They are standing in a camp in the Philippines in 1898. Both flags have “1st North Dakota Volunteers” written on them. The flag of the First North Dakota Volunteers was slightly redesigned in 1911 to become the official state flag. 0257-045.

In 1911, Colonel John Fraine, who had served with the First North Dakota in the Philippines, was serving as a state legislator. Representative Fraine introduced House Bill 152 (H.B. 152) which described the design of an official state flag. The state flag was to be exactly like the flag carried by the First North Dakota Volunteers in the Philippines, with one exception. Beneath the eagle, the scroll that had read “1st North Dakota Volunteers” was now to read “North Dakota.”

On March 3, 1911, the legislature passed this bill. Governor Burke signed the bill and it became law.

Why is this important? Before the legislation of 1911, North Dakota did not have an official flag. North Dakota was proud of its contributions to the success of the United States in the Spanish American War. The design the 1911 legislature approved carried the history of North Dakota’s first military effort in support of the nation in its design.