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BULLEThistory archive

History Archive Photo
May Hicks Curtis Hill (left) displays an early version (circa 1911) of what would become Arizona's state flag.

© Northern Arizona University Cline Library

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Waving the Flag
Although Arizona was granted statehood in 1912, it didn't have a state flag until 1917. It took a while, but today, the red, yellow and blue banner with a copper star in the middle is considered one of the most beautiful flags in America.

By Kayla Frost

If it weren't for the National Rifle Matches, a shooting competition, Arizona's state flag might never have come to fruition. For years, Arizona's National Guard was the nation's only team without a flag. But enough was enough. Colonel Charles Harris, the team's captain, didn't want to compete without representation anymore, so he drew up a temporary banner for the 1910 match, according to the Arizona State Library. May Hicks Curtis Hill, the wife of one of the guardsmen, sewed the original version.

The state flag, which was based on Harris' design, became official in February 1917, five years after statehood. However, the flag wasn't unveiled to the public until several months later, making some Arizonans restless.

In the August 18, 1917, edition of the Mohave County Miner, a Kingman citizen wrote: "Arizona has a state flag, but nobody knows it, for the simple reason that nobody ever saw it. … Arizonans should be ashamed of the fact that the state flag does not even float over the state capitol."

Finally, that September, Governor Thomas Campbell presented the flag to the public. It was made of "heavy tufted silk with gold braid borders and tassles [sic]," according to an announcement in the Bisbee Daily Review.

The flag is symbolic on multiple levels. According to the Arizona Senate, the bottom half of the flag, solid blue, is the same shade used in the United States flag. The alternating yellow and red rays on the flag's upper half reflect Spanish Colonial heritage and signify a setting sun. The copper star in the middle represents Arizona's copper industry.

Today, the state flag flies high over the capitol and countless other buildings.

>> Back to History Archive

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