A Flag On The Play

Posted: Thursday, January 26, 2012 at 2:08 pm
By: Doug Lund
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As the doctor once told me just prior to snapping on his rubber glove for  my prostate exam, “You might feel some discomfort here, Doug.”

Bottom is current SD flag Top is proposed new flag

Bottom is current SD flag Top is proposed new flag

I’ve got a couple comments on the proposed new South Dakota state flag and they’re sure to displease two of my favorite people who I admire greatly; South Dakota Magazine publisher and State Representative, Bernie Hunhoff and the brilliant Spearfish artist, Dick Termes, who I recently blogged about here.

Bernie has introduced a bill which would replace the current flag with the one designed in 1989 by Mr. Termes. According to the Rapid City Journal, Bernie has the support of at least 80 others in the legislature but from comments I’ve been seeing on the interweb, it doesn’t have a big fan base among the masses; including me. My objection has nothing to do with legislators wasting their valuable time on the issue or what it might cost to make the change-over. I just don’t care for the look of it. Oh, I get the sunburst representing South Dakota, the sunshine state(which used to be our slogan until it was changed 20 years ago..perhaps after someone pointed out the absurdity of it after 60 days of continuous cloud cover and gloom that usually hang over us in March and April) plus It’s also Florida’s slogan and we certainly didn’t want to confuse tourists about where they were headed. At the center of the proposed new flag are a couple of different colored blue circles and an orange Native American medicine wheel..which, according to Bernie, fits with the effort to promote state unity. I’m afraid, though, that would have to be explained to everyone who saw it..which, I suppose, would be one way of getting the message across.

For the record, I agree that the current state flag is too busy and pretty boring but if it’s to be replaced, I’m not sure if a design that might have been just fine for one of Elvis’ jumpsuits, is the attention grabber its supporters are going for. It was conceived 23 years ago and today could be easily duplicated in five minutes by somebody with photoshop or  a drawing download on their computer.

 I respectfully suggest that Mr. Termes go back to his palate and come up with something less  quilt-like and agenda inspired;  more in keeping with his enormous talents. A design that  simply represents what South Dakota has to offer. Maybe it doesn’t even have to be blue. Red is always a good attention-getter.

But what do I know from art? I’m just an old guy sittin’ here in the desert waiting for 4 O’clock to arrive so me and the misses can head down to Phil’s for the all you can eat  earlybird special.


  1. Ricki says:

    I agree with you on this. And since our motto is “The Mount Rushmore State”, how about putting, oh I don’t know. . .Mount Rushmore on it?

  2. perry says:

    well….i happen to like our flag…..does it have to change beause someone has not enough to worry about?….leave it alone…..it is expensive to make, because of both sides being like they are…oh well……how about changing something thats NEEDS changing…like early retirement for people who have actually opened or held doors for other people?

  3. Tim says:

    I don’t care for this new design either. I didn’t care for the name change when they did the Rushmore state but I guess they needed something to promote. Just leave well enough alone.

  4. jaycee says:

    I agree with you too! The old one is way to busy and doesn’t stand out and the new one needs explaning and the colors aren’t that great. It needs to be simple and to stand out…like Texas. The TX flag is on so many things down here and is really a source of pride…and is easily recognized as the Texas flag.

  5. Jay says:

    I actually like the new design. Maybe a little up-dating (since it was designed during the state’s centennial) but it is a step in the right direction. I’ve always like the Alaska flag, I remember reading a story about how it was designed by a 13 year old student….maybeeee we should…..???

  6. Tim says:

    I gotta tell ya, the old license place with ‘great faces, great places” was agreat design and always a conversation starter. How bout turning it into a flag.

  7. Lisa says:

    Good suggestion, Tim. Perhaps Mr. Termes could use that for inspiration for a new design.

    While his 1989 design would make a beautiful quilt, I agree that it is not appropriate for a state flag. Looks a little like a compass – or if turned sideways, the star that the 3 wisemen followed. Toss in the orange cross and it looks like it could be part of a logo for beachwear. Attractive overall, but not to represent our state.

  8. Bonnie says:

    I am a retired school teacher and taught South Dakota State History. I think the SD flag is great as it is. Save the expenses !!

  9. V Vet says:

    I wish they would get rid of the Great Faces, Great Places and go back to the Land of Infinite Variety.

  10. Per Pål P says:

    Frankly….I think the new design is absolutely fantastic…just look a the brilliant bold colors!….Wouldn’t that look great in the Macy’s Parade…or Rose Bowl? There’s not any doubt…people would know…”that’s South Dakota”..GREAT people…GREAT history”..Bold…moving forward…Well…maybe the “old flag” kinda fits in with some of the other aspects of our state….bottom of the pay scale for our great educators and a governor that thinks teachers could live in campers with out AC..just cuz “they love to teach”…4 of the poorest counties in the United States?…Ja…and even our current flag in the “bottom” category of flags…Oh…and by the way….my 2nd cousin’s Uncle paints advertising on barns…He just might be a candidate to design our new flag…I think he was the one who came up with the slogan…”business is good…Norris Oils” Remember those black barns with that great slogan?…I wonder if the governor has a “relative” that paints? Uffda…ol’ Lars wouldn’t stand a chance.

  11. Chad says:

    I think the new flag looks like something the superfriends would fly above their base on a Saturday morning cartoon show. I know, I’m dating myself. The other thing I thought of was a flag a cult would use to fly above their compound. Sorry, please try again.

  12. Karen says:

    I think there are better items our legisature needs to worry about, like funding for education, medicare, etc. If its not broken not fix it, thats my motto. Plus like others said money it will cost to change over.

  13. Levi says:

    The flag is great i dont think the legislatures are doing the job they need to think about taking care of the inportant things to keep people safe and take care of the bussiness in hand not worry about replacing a flag that represents S D well please dont waste our Tax dollars on foolish items think of the welfare and well being ot the people not there own prestige . Do your job or step down and let the people you really care of why you were voted in Levi Eaton western So. Dak

  14. T.J. says:

    I personally don’t have a problem with the legislature bringing it up, their job is to lead in all areas that effect our state, but I think there are probably things higher on the priority list.

    With that said, I think by bringing this flag forward is somewhat putting the cart before the horse. Breaking it down it’s saying 1. We need a new flag. and 2. This is it.

    I think if statement #1 is found to be true, that we need a new flag, then we should bring some options to the table, discuss it, hear opinions. and make a choice. This is our state’s flag, you want to do it right. Not anything against the proposed flag, but I think ramming it through without looking at options would not be the best option. Why not call on some of states best artists and designers, narrow it down to 3 designs, and seek the public opion. Similar to what we did when choosing a coin design for the state quarter a few years back.

  15. grouse says:

    I’m really kind of shaking here Doug, because I agree with everything you’ve said in this blog. I think what we need is a a flag that simply says in plain old block lettering:
    “South Dakota State Flag”
    Uff Da!”

    It should be blue with gold lettering….and have a little Harvey Dunn painting in each corner.

    I’m saluting right now!!

  16. John G. Moisan says:

    I retired from the State of SD after more than 35 years of service. I am the artist of the OFFICIAL colored version State Seal now shown in South Dakota Codified Law and painted it at the request of Governor Bill Janklow in 1982. The Great Seal of the State of South Dakota was established more than 100 years ago and represents ALL of the people of South Dakota on FLAGS, letters, law enforcement vehicles, and thousands of other places. In the Capitol Building it is painted on the dome, the ceiling, embossed on the cornerstone, and cast into the bronze of every door in the Capitol. The FLAG of the Great State of South Dakota is flown at ALL state office buildings statewide, elementary schools, high schools, court houses, in court rooms, and THOUSANDS of other locations throughout this state. The cost of a state flag is at least $25(depending on the size) and changing the State Flag is totally absurd! This subject is NOT about South Dakotans and Native American people….it’s about Dick Termes selling bad art to the legislature!

  17. grouse says:

    I should have include a couple of Terry Redlin paintings too. Take out 2 Harvey Dunns.

  18. Tim says:

    John said it all. No need to change.

  19. Sweeps says:

    Way to break it down, John! I like the current flag very much. IF they must think about a new one, I like the idea of Mount Rushmore, or maybe even a collage of sorts with Crazy Horse. I’m not an artist, but I can say I didn’t like Mr. Termes’ first rendition of a new flag.

  20. chad says:

    I agree with most posters on this blog. Nothing against Mr.Termes artwork here, I just think we elected our legislators Togo out to Pierre to deal with issues such as Medicare, taxes, and most importantly funding for education, not to waste taxpayers money talking about a change in the state flag, or teaching the bible in our public schools that’s what Christian schools are for. As a parent and tax payer I am more concerned about the education of my children and the pittance of a paycheck that our fine teachers get to do one of the hardest and most important jobs in our country. I would urge all legislators to cut the partisan politics and do what’s right for the people that sent you to Pierre in the first place. Just remember if it wasn’t for a teacher somewhere none of the legislators would be out in Pierre in the first place. Don’t turn your back on the people that educated you.

  21. Continue with the present flag until you have time to put more thought into this. The proposed flag is terrible—let’s put the name of the state on it, at least! In this short session, legislators should have more things to do this session.

  22. JJ says:

    Leave the state flag alone.. focus on more important matters for the taxpayers!!

  23. rdl says:

    The proposed new SD flag looks like the front of PORKY the PIG

  24. GMAX09 says:

    I’m in agreement with John Moisan and Tim as far as my preference for a state flag is concerned — the one we have is fine. However, if there is some burning desire to make a change, open the field to anyone who wants to submit a design. Then, get together a small committee of unpaid volunteers from all walks of life, including a couple of children, let them narrow the field and then let the public vote – leaving in the current flag as a choice. That’s supposed to be how we do things in the United States of America – by a vote of the people.

  25. Larry Elverud says:

    Thanks for the birthday wish.
    Can I communicate to you without it going on the blog?

  26. gary says:

    You want to beat it? Just get a Democrat to promote it!

  27. LANA says:

    I agree with John and Tim! And I bet 99% of SD people do! Wish “Bill J ‘was here to give his opinion!

  28. fsl says:

    Doug; This has nothing to do w/the state flag, but just wanted to let you know about an on-line radio station you may like. Our daughter enlightened us..
    Its from Toronto Canada, 740 AM. If you type in zoomer radio. com you can listen on-line.
    On Friday nights there is a ‘Friday Night Bandstand’ type of repertoire. Its most enjoyable. Thanks~

  29. jeff says:

    I agree with John and Tim leave the flag alone it has nothing that
    will help the economy other than Flag sales might go up. And Chad
    about the study of the Bible in school it was common practice to
    pray and read prior to the 1960’s and we should not have let that
    go by the way side and there would not be a need for Christian
    private schools to be teaching the true Word of God we would all
    have had the chance to read and study.

  30. gary says:

    It is shameful that a Norwegian cannot spell NORSE OILS!!

  31. Per Pål P says:

    Mange takk Gary….

    Uffda…Ja….it’s been a long time since I’ve seen one of those barns…
    Again…Takk skal du ha Gary…you put smile into my morning…. Per

  32. Lynn says:

    If and when the residents of SD want a new flag, then a competition of artists from only SD should enter artwork, just like the design ideas for the quarter. A panel of citizens would need to narrow down the entries, then voters of this state would vote on what they want. What was Mr Hunhoff thinking???

  33. Paula B says:

    I like the flag just the way it is, however if we are feeling compelled to change it, let’s not go with something that looks so abstract. There are many others things that could better depict our wonderful state!!

  34. Steve says:

    I grew up with the original flag, when it still said “Sunshine State”. I can understand that change, and maybe could understand another change…but not to a flag which is simply a geometric design with no meaning…

  35. Jeanne Keller says:

    Describing the new flag design as “one for an Elvis’ jump suit” was much funnier than my thinking it looked like a sunflower seeds package. By the way, you’re not just an “old guy sittin’ here in the desert” – you are an excellent writer and you expressed many of my feelings. I also like the comment from GMAX09 about opening the field to anyone who wants to submit a design.

  36. Kate says:

    I agree with you, Doug, and most of those commenting here. A flag should be representative of our best characteristics…. Readily identifiable, distinctly SD, unique & not too busy….something that inspires pride in the great state of SD. The new flag idea misses on most of these counts. Nothing about it says ‘South Dakota’. It does look like a quilt block…or a super hero logo or a casino logo.
    Have a contest….see what you get….pick the best one or keep what you have. I can only wonder what this little change will cost the taxpayers….if you are going to do it….make it fabulous….. and worthy of the cost….

  37. stormshear says:

    With all due respect to Mr. Termes, this is not a design that represents all of what makes South Dakota the great state that it is. Besides being too abstract, all focus of this design centers on the Medicine Wheel, which doesn’t represent the characteristics of our state as a whole.
    If a change is needed, there should be involvement from all artists of this state, preferably in a contest. I know several artists, including myself, who would love the opportunity to create a design to show this country how proud we are of our state. I also agree with GMAX09 who stated that a panel of volunteers, including children, should be the ones to vote on the few final designs, later putting it to a public vote..

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