South Dakota State Flag

The South Dakota state flag features the state seal inside a yellow sun.
The South Dakota state flag features the state seal inside a yellow sun.

The flag of South Dakota is a symbol of sovereignty and authority of the state and a valuable asset to its citizens. The state flag flies over all state buildings below the United States of America’s flag.

History of South Dakota Flag

South Dakota State has had three flags:

First Flag

In 1909, Ida Anding McNeil made the first flag having the sun in front while the seal was at the back. Anding designed it in such a way that the yellow sun appeared at the center of a blue field. The sun was surrounded by the state name, "South Dakota," above and its nickname, "The Sunshine State," below. Upon addition of the state seal by the legislature, the official launch of the flag was on July 1, 1909. This flag was in place as the state flag until 1963.

Second Flag

The introduction of the second flag took place when William Sahr of Pierre introduced a bill during a 1963, legislative session. The new flag was one-sided retaining the serrated edged sun on a sky blue field. However, they placed the seal inside the sun. The sun was surrounded by the state name, "South Dakota," and its nickname, "The Sunshine State."

Further Revisions

In the year 1992, a revision to the state’s banner took place. The legislature approved the changing of the nickname. The nickname was changed from, "The Sunshine State" to "The Mount Rushmore State." The 1992 and 1963 legislation changes had provisions that previous flags would remain official state flags. However, in the year 2001, the Vexillological Association of North America rated South Dakota’s flag among the worst five in North America. The bill to adopt Spearfish artist, Dick Terme’s flag emerged in a 2012 legislative session. This flag had an American Indian medicine wheel, concentric blue circles, and a sunburst. The house committee later turned down the calls for revision.

Current flag

The current South Dakota flag has a golden blazing sun surrounding the seal in a sky-blue field. The state name, "South Dakota," and its nickname, "The Mount Rushmore State," are arranged in a circle around the sun. The nickname changed to the present one on July 1, 1992. The two names are written in gold sans-serif letters. In the background of the seal, there are black hills and a sky.

The foreground bears a picture of a steamship, navigating the Missouri river. The ship appears to be running through agricultural land to the right and industrial land to the left. A cattle grazing next to a field of corn represent South Dakota’s agriculture. A farmer plowing a field with a team of horses also represents the agricultural sector. On the other hand, a mill and dump, smelting furnace and a hoist house represent the mining industry.

State Motto

There is also a State motto on the seal bearing the words, "Under God the People Rule," Dr. Joseph Ward suggested the original design of the seal with the motto. Later, the suggestion was adopted in 1885 at the conclusion of the constitution convention.


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