From the time of its ratification in 1889, North Dakota’s Constitution has always contained the same detailed description of the state’s Great Seal Of North Dakota. Now found in Section two of Article XI (titled General Provisions), the description of the Great Seal was initially located in Section two of Article XVII (titled Miscellaneous) in the 1889 version of the Constitution. Some of the wording contained in the Constitution’s description is the same as that used for the territorial Seal Of North Dakota approved on January 3, 1863, by the Legislative Assembly of the Territory of Dakota.
The Seal Of North Dakota is based on the description of the seal of the Territory of Dakota, enacted in 1862-3: A tree in an open field, the trunk of which is surrounded by three bundles of wheat; on the right a plow, anvil and sledge; on the left, a bow crossed with three arrows, and an Indian on horseback pursuing a buffalo toward the setting sun; the foliage of the tree arched by a half circle of forty-two stars.
Seal Of North Dakota is surrounded by the motto “LIBERTY AND UNION NOW AND FOREVER, ONE AND INSEPARABLE”, from Daniel Webster’s Reply to Hayne; the words “GREAT SEAL” at the top; “STATE OF NORTH DAKOTA” at the bottom; “OCTOBER 1st” on the left and “1889” on the right. The current Seal Of North Dakota was designed by Lili Stewart of North Dakota in 1987 before computers made commercial art less exacting. Stewart continues to work as a free-lance artist, specializing in North Dakota wildlife and landscape paintings.
To more clearly define the acceptable uses of the Great Seal and to end the dependency on the opinions, S.B. 2448 was passed by the 1995 Legislative Assembly. The bill gave the Secretary of State greater flexibility and authority in carrying out the custodial responsibilities related to the Great Seal. In addition, it specifically prohibited the use of the Great Seal for political purposes.
The existing law was also amended to allow the Great Seal Of North Dakota to be reproduced, with the concurrence of the Secretary of State, on items offered for sale as gifts and souvenirs by the State Historical Society and the Parks and Recreation Department. The 1997 Legislative Assembly authorized the Great Seal Of North Dakota on business cards for state employees.