Flag of New Mexico

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State of New Mexico
Flag of New Mexico.svg
UseCivil and state flag Small vexillological symbol or pictogram in black and white showing the different uses of the flagSmall vexillological symbol or pictogram in black and white showing the different uses of the flagReverse side is congruent with obverse side
AdoptedMarch 15, 1925; 98 years ago (1925-03-15)
DesignThe red and gold (yellow) of old Spain. The ancient Zia sun symbol in red on a field of yellow.
Designed byReba Mera[1][2]

The official flag of New Mexico consists of a red sun symbol of the Zia people on a field of gold (yellow). It was officially adopted in 1925 to highlight the state's Native American and Hispano heritage: It combines a symbol of the Puebloan people, who have ancient roots in the state, with the colors of the flag of Spain, which established and ruled Nuevo México for over two and a half centuries.

The New Mexico flag is among the most unique and recognizable in the United States,[3] and has been noted for its simple and aesthetic design.[4] It is one of four U.S. state flags without the color blue (along with Alabama, California, and Maryland) and the only one among the four without the color white.[5][note 1] The flag of New Mexico is also one of only two U.S. state flags (the other is Oklahoma) to include distinct Native American iconography.[note 2]

The proportions of the symbol are fixed by New Mexico law: the four groups of rays are set at right angles, with the two inner rays one-fifth longer than the outer rays, and the diameter of the circle in the center is one-third the width of the symbol.[6]


Coronela flag of the Spanish Tercios Morados Viejos Tercios division (old murrey or purpure) during New Spain Small vexillological symbol or pictogram in black and white showing the different uses of the flag

Previous flag[edit]

During its first thirteen years as a state, New Mexico did not have an official flag. The San Diego World's Fair of 1915, which occurred three years after New Mexico's admission to the union, featured an exhibit hall where all U.S. state flags were displayed; lacking an official flag, New Mexico displayed an unofficial one designed by Ralph Emerson Twitchell, the mayor of the state capital, Santa Fe.[7][8] Known as the "Twitchell flag", it consisted of a blue field with the U.S. flag in the upper left corner, the words "New Mexico" in silver lettering in the center of the flag, the number "47" in the upper right corner (in reference to New Mexico being the 47th state), and the state seal in the bottom right corner (which in some historical references is wrapped with the words "The Sunshine State").[9] As of 2005, the only known Twitchell flag in existence was displayed at the Palace of the Governors in Santa Fe.[7]


In 1920, the New Mexico chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) called for the creation of an official flag that would reflect the state's unique heritage and culture.[10] A statewide contest was held in 1923 to solicit new designs.[8] Eventually, a design made by Dr. Harry Mera of Santa Fe and sewn by his wife Reba Mera was selected. In 1925, Governor Arthur T. Hannett signed legislation proclaiming the Mera design the official state flag, which remains in use and unchanged to this day.[11][2]

A reconstruction of New Mexico's unofficial state flag, used in the 1915 San Diego World's FairSmall vexillological symbol or pictogram in black and white showing the different uses of the flag

Dr. Mera was a physician and archaeologist who was familiar with the Zia sun symbol, initially found at Zia Pueblo on a 19th century pottery jar, which was later revealed to have been taken from a tribal secret society by James and Matilda Stevenson in the 1890s, likely without permission. The symbol has sacred meaning to the Zia people. Four is a sacred number symbolizing the Circle of Life: the four directions, the four times of day, the four stages of life, and the four seasons; the circle binds these four elements of four together. The symbol was used without the permission of the Zia people,[12][13] and they have fought to prevent it from being used without their permission, including via attempting to copyright it, during and after its adoption as a symbol of the state, and due to concerns over desecration of the symbol.[14] A 2012 joint memorial by the state and the Zia people later acknowledged the state had appropriated the image without permission.[15] Due to its longstanding use, the symbol is now unlikely to be eligible for copyright, falling into the public domain, which remains a point of contention between the state and the Zia people, as the tribe was unaware of the specifics of such laws at the time the symbol was co-opted, and had only been considered U.S. citizens since the 1924 Indian Citizenship Act.

The salutation, "I salute the flag of the State of New Mexico and the Zia symbol of perfect friendship among united cultures",[1] is commonly recited in New Mexico public schools after the United States pledge of allegiance.

The New Mexico flag was rated first in a 2001 survey of 72 U.S. and Canadian flags by the North American Vexillological Association.[3][16]


That a flag be and the same is hereby adopted to be used on all occasions when the state is officially and publicly represented, with the privilege of use by all citizens upon such occasions as they may deem fitting and appropriate. Said flag shall be the ancient Zia sun symbol of red in the center of a field of yellow. The colors shall be the red and yellow of old Spain. The proportion of the flag shall be a width of two-thirds its length. The sun symbol shall be one-third of the length of the flag. Said symbol shall have four groups of rays set at right angles; each group shall consist of four rays, the two inner rays of the group shall be one-fifth longer than the outer rays of the group. The diameter of the circle in the center of the symbol shall be one-third of the width of the symbol. Said flag shall conform in color and design described herein.

— New Mexico Statutes and Court Rules, Section 12-3-2[17]

Pledge to the flag of New Mexico [edit]

U.S. and New Mexican flags flying near Deming, February 2014.

The pledge to the state flag is available in English and Spanish:

I salute the flag of the state of New Mexico, the Zia symbol of perfect friendship among united cultures.

— New Mexico Statutes and Court Rules, Section 12-3-3[18]

Saludo la bandera del estado de Nuevo México, el símbolo zia de amistad perfecta, entre culturas unidas.

— New Mexico Statutes and Court Rules, Section 12-3-7[19]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The flag of the District of Columbia also has no blue, although it is partially white, making the New Mexico flag the only U.S. flag with no blue or white.
  2. ^ The Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Florida flags contain state seals depicting Native people.


  1. ^ a b The Flag Book of the United States by Whitney Smith (1970), p. 174.
  2. ^ a b "State Flag". New Mexico Secretary of State. Retrieved 27 August 2022.
  3. ^ a b Edward B. Kaye (10 June 2001). "2001 State/Provincial Flag Survey" (PDF). nava.org. North American Vexillological Association.
  4. ^ "flag of New Mexico | United States state flag | Britannica". www.britannica.com. Retrieved 2022-12-02.
  5. ^ "List of US state flags and territories". ballotpedia.org. Retrieved 2021-01-11.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  6. ^ "State Flag | Maggie Toulouse Oliver - New Mexico Secretary of State". Retrieved 2022-12-02.
  7. ^ a b New Mexico Flag Hasn't Always Had a Zia Symbol; Earliest Version Boasted Quartz Crystals Archived 2021-03-04 at the Wayback Machine, by Rick Nathanson
  8. ^ a b Nathanson, Rick (June 14, 2005). "Banner History". Albuquerque Journal. ProQuest 324325677. Retrieved 11 January 2023.
  9. ^ New Mexico's First Flag (U.S.)
  10. ^ "State Flag | Maggie Toulouse Oliver - New Mexico Secretary of State". Retrieved 2022-12-02.
  11. ^ History of the New Mexico flag
  12. ^ "Zia's Symbol, New Mexico's Flag". El Palacio. 2012. Retrieved 2023-04-20.
  13. ^ Harlow, Olivia (2019-03-03). "How a sacred emblem became New Mexico's state symbol". Durango Herald. Retrieved 2023-04-20.
  14. ^ "Indigenous Knowledge Misappropriation: The Case Of The Zia Sun Symbol Explained At WIPO". Intellectual Property Watch. 2018-12-11. Retrieved 2023-04-20.
  15. ^ Montoya, Stephen (2018-12-27). "Using the Zia symbol - with permission". Albuquerque Journal. Retrieved 2023-04-20.
  16. ^ Edward B. Kaye (2001). ""Good Flag, Bad Flag, and the Great NAVA Flag Survey of 2001". Raven: A Journal of Vexillology. 8: 11–38. doi:10.5840/raven200182.
  17. ^ "Section 12-3-2", New Mexico Statutes and Court Rules, State of New Mexico
  18. ^ "Section 12-3-3", New Mexico Statutes and Court Rules, State of New Mexico
  19. ^ "Section 12-3-7", New Mexico Statutes and Court Rules, State of New Mexico

External links[edit]