The flag of the state of Montana consists of the image of the Montana state seal centered on a blue field.
Within the seal, a plow, shovel, and pick rest in a field in front of the Great Falls of the Missouri River. The ribbon contains the state motto, "Oro y plata" (Spanish for: "Gold and silver"). The current flag was adopted in 1905, and the word "Montana" above the seal was added in 1981. In 1985, the flag was again modified to specify the font used in "Montana." Before it was adopted as a state flag, it was used by Montana troops deploying for the Spanish/American War.
Colonel Kessler's needed a flag or banner to distinguish Montana Volunteers from other units. "Colonel Kessler's Flag" embarked for the "Philippine Insurrection" with the First Montana Infantry in the fall of 1898, and served as the unit's chief insignia during its tour of duty. By the time the volunteers returned to a grand State welcome in October of 1899, the Colonel's private flag had grown in acceptance and stature. Montana newspapers looked upon the blue banner as an unofficial state flag. The idea of an official state flag appealed to many. The Ninth Legislative Assembly reflected that support in 1905 and proclaimed Colonel Kessler's flag official, deleting only the words "1st Montana Infantry, USV. "which appeared above the seal. Under the word "Montana", on a blue field, is the state seal. The seal shows some of Montana's beautiful scenery and tells what people were doing in pioneer times. The pick, shovel and plow represent mining and farming. In the background a sun rises over mountains, forests and the Great Falls of the Missouri river. A ribbon contains the state motto "Gold and Silver".
Montana Code Annotated 2005, Title 1, Chapter 1, Part 5
TITLE 1. GENERAL LAWS AND DEFINITIONS.
CHAPTER 1. GENERAL PROVISIONS.
Part 5. State Symbols - Official Designations.
1-1-502. State flag. There is hereby established a state flag of Montana. The state flag of Montana shall be a flag having a blue field with a representation of the great seal of the state in the center and with golden fringe along the upper and lower borders of the flag; the same being the flag borne by the 1st Montana Infantry, U.S.V., in the Spanish-American War, with the exception of the device, "1st Montana Infantry, U.S.V."; and above the great seal of the state shall be the word "MONTANA" in helvetica bold letters of gold color equal in height to one-tenth of the total vertical measurement of the blue field.
History: En. Secs. 1, 2, Ch. 42, L. 1905; re-en. Secs. 432, 433, Rev. C. 1907; re-en. Secs. 528, 529, R.C.M. 1921; re-en. Secs. 528, 529, R.C.M. 1935; R.C.M. 1947, 19-113, 19-114; amd. Sec. 1, Ch. 49, L. 1981; amd. Sec. 1, Ch. 335, L. 1985.