The Great Seal of the State of Minnesota is the state seal of the U.S. state of Minnesota. Originally adopted in 1858, it has undergone several alterations since then, in 1971 and 1983. The Minnesota Secretary of State is the keeper of the Great Seal of the State of Minnesota and affixes the seal to government documents to make them official. Just as people authenticate a document by signing their name to it, the state seal acts as the State’s signature.
When Minnesota became a state on May 11, 1858, it did not have an official state Seal Of Minnesota—despite a constitutional requirement to have one. Minnesota’s first secretary of state, Francis Baasen, wrote to Governor Henry Sibley requesting direction on the matter. Sibley authorized Bassen to use Minnesota’s previous territorial government’s seal.
In the meantime, Sibley began making design changes and correcting errors discovered when the Seal Of Minnesota was cast in metal. He replaced a misspelled Latin motto, “Quo sursum Velo videre,” which means “I want to see what lies beyond” with a French motto, “L’Étoile du Nord,” meaning “the Star of the North.” He also reversed the picture on the seal to depict the sun setting in the west instead of rising in the east. Around the seal design, he placed the words, “The Great Seal of the State of Minnesota 1858.”
The Great Seal of the State of Minnesota is rich in symbolism. The sun, visible on the western horizon, signifies the flat plains covering much of the state. The cultivated ground and plow symbolize the importance of agriculture. The Mississippi River and St. Anthony Falls is depicted to note the importance of Minnesota’s natural resources for trade and commerce.
The three pine trees represent the state tree, the Red or Norway pine, and the three great pine regions of the state including the St. Croix, Mississippi, and Lake Superior. The tree stump symbolizes the importance of Minnesota’s timber industry. The American Indian on horseback represents the great American Indian heritage of the state while the horse, spear, ax, rifle, and plow represent important tools that were used for hunting and labor.