The flag of the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe.
CAIRNS ETANHAN WOTANIN
By Center for American Indian Research and Native Studies
For The Lakota Country Times
lakotacountrytimes.com This week we continue our examination of the nine flags of nations with reservation lands in South Dakota. Last week we evaluated the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate flag and awarded its design 3 out of 5 stars. Now let’s see how the flag of the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe rates! Remember, flag designs can earn up to one star for each of the five principles of good flag design identified by Ted Kaye in his pamphlet, Good Flag, Bad Flag: How to Design a Great Flag. They are 1) keep it simple, 2) make it meaningful, 3) use 2-3 colors, 4) avoid numbers and letters, and 5) be distinctive. So with that in mind, let’s take a look at the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe flag. The flag is white with a light blue border. A large disk in the field of the flag is colored orange on its left half and red on its right. In front of the disk and looking toward the right side of the flag is a profile of a bald eagle’s head. Behind the disk and extending diagonally is a large brown cannunpa. Two wisps of smoke rise from the bowl and two feathers dangle from strings fastened about where the bowl and stem would join. Five notched-end ribbons of alternating red, yellow, red, yellow and red radiate from a point above the eagle’s head in the red side of the central disk. “April 24, 1936” is printed in black along the upper edge of the mouthpiece. This is the date the constitution and bylaws of the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe were approved by the Secretary of the Interior. Centered along the upper edge of the orange and red disk is “Mde Wakanton,” and “Wakpa Ipaksun” is printed in black along the top of the cannunpa’s stem and bowl. The former is the name of one of the two traditional oyates whose descendants constitute the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe; the latter is the Dakota name for their reservation. “Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe” extends in an arc from beneath the mouthpiece to the neck of the eagle. “Flandreau, South Dakota” continues on an arc from the neck of the eagle to a point on the cannunpa. Now that we’ve taken a good look at the flag, let’s see how it rates according to the five principles of good flag design. The first criterion, simplicity, is clearly not met. There are too many elements on the flag for someone to draw it from memory. If we look at these elements though, there’s a lot of meaning and symbolism at work. Based on these, let’s award the flag a star for meaningfulness. If we take a look at the flag’s usage of colors, you can count five separate hues present: orange, red, yellow, brown and blue. This is too many colors to satisfy the third principle of good flag design, thus no star can be awarded. Nor can a star be awarded for the fourth principle, no lettering or numbers. Indeed, the many words on the flag are one of its most noticeable features! Arriving at the fifth criteria, distinctiveness, we can easily award a star. The stylized eagle head, cannunpa and disk all make the design stand out. With that, the final tally for the flag of the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe comes to two out of five stars. That places it in a tie with the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe flag at the bottom of the scoreboard. Next week we’ll take a look at the flag of the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe and see how it compares! (The Center for American Indian Research and Native Studies (CAIRNS), based in Martin, South Dakota, is an Indian-controlled nonprofit research and education center that is committed to advancing knowledge and understanding of American Indian communities and issues important to them by developing quality educational resources and innovative projects that acknowledge and incorporate tribal perspectives, and by serving as a meeting ground for peoples and ideas that support those perspectives.) Find the award-winning Lakota Country Times on the Internet, Facebook and Twitter and download the new Lakota Country Times app today.
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