Newly designed state flag will better represent Utah’s historic tribal nations, senator says

A substitute for Senate Bill 31 passed the Utah Senate with a 17-10 vote on Monday. The new design would replace an 8-point star with a 5-point star.

Utah is one step closer to flying a new state flag — one that would better represent the state’s historic tribal nations, a Utah state senator says.

Sen. Dan McCay, R-Riverton, introduced a substitute to his Senate Bill 31 to remove the 8-point star from a new flag design, replacing it with a 5-point star.

The 8-point star was intended to represent the eight federally recognized tribal nations in Utah. Instead, the altered design will represent the five historic tribal nations, the Navajo, Shoshone, Goshute, Paiute and Ute nations, McCay explained during a floor speech on Monday.

The senator said he made the change after an American Indian constituent expressed concern about the 8-point star looking like an asterisk from a distance.

“Our people sometimes feel like an asterisk on American history anyways,” McCay said the constituent told him. “The last thing we want is to feel like that on the flag.”

The five white mountain peaks on the flag will also represent the five historical indigenous nations, McCay said.

(Utah Senate) This image taken from a presentation by Sen. Dan McKay, R-Riverton, shows the underlying symbolism for a proposed state flag under Senate Bill 31.

Some Senate Republicans opposed the change, with 10 GOP senators voting against it. During a Senate floor discussion last week, Sen. Don Ipson, R-St. George, who voted against the bill Monday, said many of his constituents are against the flag.

“I like the new flag, but I don’t see a reason to change it,” he said on the Senate floor last week.

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If the new state flag rises, the current state flag will still hold a ceremonial role, McCay said, adding that 18 other states have a ceremonial or civic flag along with a “people’s flag.”

Last year, the Utah State Flag Task Force, which collected more than 5,700 proposals, presented lawmakers with the new state flag design. Their final choice was a banner that included a beehive, white mountains, a blue backdrop and the 8-point star. Ultimately, it is the Legislature that will decide on the design.

The bill will now move to the Utah House for consideration.