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About the Wyoming State Flag
The Wyoming state flag was designed by a young girl named Verna Keays. Verna's father had crossed the plains on cattle drives in his younger days, and told his daughter stories of the vast herds of buffalo he had seen along the way. One summer night in 1916, Verna had a dream in which a perfect design for a state flag appeared to her.
The next morning, Verna set about recreating the image on drawing paper in water colors. She mailed it to Sheridan, where members of the Wyoming Daughters of the American Revolution were meeting to consider entries in a state-wide flag design contest.
Sometime later, Dr. Grace Raymond Hebard, professor of political economy at the University of Wyoming and DAR state regent, contacted Verna Keays. Verna learned that the DAR had selected her design over the other thirty-six entries. Verna received $20 in prize money. Verna's original flag painting is in the State Historical Department in Cheyenne. In 1945, the Wyoming Legislature passed a bill to honor Verna by presenting her one of the first state flags. In 1920, Verna Keays married Arthur C. Keyes, and the couple settled in Casper, Wyoming.
The Wyoming state flag, adopted by the 14th State Legislature on January 31, 1917, features the state seal . The seal includes two important dates: 1869, the year of Wyoming's first territorial government, and 1890, the year of statehood. The dates flank a red, white and blue shield containing a white, five-pointed star bearing the Roman numeral XLIV, commemorating Wyoming's status as our nation's forty-fourth state.
In 1960, Verna Keays Keyes explained the meaning behind her flag. "The Great Seal of the State of Wyoming is the heart of the flag. The seal on the bison represents the truly western custom of branding. The bison was once "Monarch of the Plains." The red border represents the Red Men, who knew and loved our country long before any of us were here; also, the blood of the pioneers who gave their lives in reclaiming the soil. White is an emblem of purity and uprightness over Wyoming. Blue, which is found in the bluest blue of Wyoming skies and the distant mountains, has through the ages been symbolic of fidelity, justice and virility. And finally, the red, white and blue of the flag of the State of Wyoming are the colors of the greatest flag in all the world, the Stars and Stripes of the United States of America."
The central figure on the state seal is a woman, a direct reference to Wyoming's strong history of equality. In 1869, Wyoming Territorial Governor John A. Campbell signed into law a historic bill granting women the right to vote. The territorial government also gave women the right to hold public office; it was the first modern government in the world to grant such privileges.
The woman on the seal stands upon a pedestal and holds a banner bearing the state motto "Equal Rights." To her right stands a rancher, holding a lasso and dressed in range attire, representative of Wyoming's cowboys. To the woman's left is a miner holding a pick. These figures illustrate the importance of cattle and grain, mineral wealth and oil to the state's economy.
The figures stand before two pillars, each of which is draped with two banners. The banners bear the words "Oil," "Mines," "Livestock," and "Grain," further representation of Wyoming's major industries. Atop each pillar is a burning candle, emblematic of the Light of Knowledge.
One important change was made to Verna's design over the years. On her flag, the bison faced away from the flagpole. Someone pointed out that bison are tough animals, and when caught in a blizzard, they face into the wind. So the bison was turned to face the flagpole, the direction from whence the wind blows.
Wyoming State Flags
Large Wyoming State Flags
Wyoming State Flag Stickers
Wyoming State Flag Poster