Image of a pelican feeding her young with her own blood on a field of azure. Below the pelican, a ribbon displays "Union Justice Confidence"
The flag of Louisiana consists of a heraldic charge called a "pelican in her piety," representing a mother pelican wounding her breast to feed her young from the blood. The mother pelican's head and outspread wings covering the three pelican chicks nested below her form a stylized fleur-de-lis, another emblem of similar significance often depicted in Louisiana. This symbol, emblematic of Christian charity (and Catholicism), is also found on the state seal. On the flag it is depicted above a ribbon with the state motto: "Union, Justice, and Confidence". The current flag was adopted in 2006, revising the original pelican design of 1912.
During the 19th century it was traditional in Louisiana flags and the state seal for the "pelican in her piety" to have three drops of blood on her chest. However, in later years the tradition (on both the state flag and seal) had been haphazardly followed, which was noticed by an eighth-grader at Vandebilt Catholic High School in Houma who brought this to the attention of his state legislator. The issue was resolved in April 2006, when the Louisiana State Legislature passed a bill (House Bill 833/Act 92) which requires three drops of blood to be depicted on the pelican used in both the state's flag and seal. The new state flag, featuring a new design, was recently unveiled during swearing-in ceremonies of new state officials.
In February 1861, Louisiana officially adopted a flag with a single yellow star in a red canton, with thirteen red, white and blue stripes. This was used through the end of the American Civil War, though the Pelican flag and Flag of January 1861 remained in use unofficially.
In November 2010, a new version of the flag bearing an updated version of "A Pelican In Her Piety" was unveiled. The new flag was a result of a bill passed during the 2006 legislative session legally requiring a standardized flag and to combat the issue of several alternating versions of the 1912 flag being in circulation.