The Great Seal of the State of Minnesota is the insignia that the secretary of state affixes to government papers and documents to make them official. A seal for the territory of Minnesota was adopted in 1849 and approved by Governor Ramsey and the territorial legislature. When Minnesota became a state on May 11, 1858, there was no official state seal and, according to law, no official act could be undertaken without it. The territorial seal was used as a state seal until Governor Sibley started using a new design. When the legislature did not approve Governor Sibley’s design, he made some changes, including changing the original Latin motto to French, Йtoile du Nord, thereby making Minnesota the North Star State. In 1861 the legislature adopted the new design, making it the official state seal. In 1983, the legislature altered the seal further.
The design of the seal is as
described in this subdivision.
(a) The seal is composed of two concentric borders. The
outside forms the border of the seal and the inside forms the
border for the illustrations within the seal. The area between
the two borders contains lettering.
(b) The seal is two inches in diameter. The outside border
has a radius of one inch and resembles the serrated edge of a
coin. The width of the border is 1/16 of an inch.
(c) The inside border has a radius of three-fourths of an
inch and is composed of a series of closely spaced dots
measuring 1/32 of an inch in diameter.
(d) Within the area between the borders "The Great Seal of
the State of Minnesota" is printed in capital letters. Under
that is the date "1858" with two dagger symbols separating the
date and the letters. The lettering is 14-point century bold.
(e) In the area within the inside border is the portrayal
of an 1858 Minnesota scene made up of various illustrations that
serve to depict a settler plowing the ground near the Falls of
St. Anthony while he watches an Indian on horseback riding in
(f) For the purposes of description, when the area within
the inside border is divided into quadrants, the following
illustrations should be clearly visible in the area described.
(1) In the upper parts of quadrants one and two, the
inscription "L'Etoile du Nord" is found on the likeness of a
scroll whose length is equal to twice the length of the
inscription, but whose ends are twice folded underneath and
serve to enhance the inscription. The lettering is 7-point
(2) In quadrant two is found a likeness of a sun whose
ambient rays form a background for a male Indian in loincloth
and plume riding on horseback at a gallop. The Indian is
sitting erect and is holding a spear in his left hand at an
upward 60-degree angle to himself and is looking toward the
settler in quadrant four.
(3) In quadrant one, three pine trees form a background for
a picturesque resemblance of St. Anthony Falls in 1858.
(4) In quadrants three and four, cultivated ground is found
across the lower half of the seal, which provides a background
for the scenes in quadrants three and four.
(5) In quadrant three, a tree stump is found with an ax
embedded in the stump and a period muzzle loader resting on it.
A powder flask is hanging towards the end of the barrel.
(6) In quadrant four, a white barefoot male pioneer wearing
clothing and a hat of that period is plowing the earth, using an
animal-drawn implement from that period. The animal is not
visible. The torso of the man continues into quadrant two, and
he has his legs spread apart to simulate movement. He is
looking at the Indian.