Minnesota State Motto

"L'Etoile du nord"

State Motto and Seal

(The Star of the North)

Adopted in 1861.

Language: French

Focus: Geographical

See Minnesota State Seal

L'etoile du Nord (translation: "Star of the North") was adopted formally as the official state motto in 1861. Henry Sibley selected this motto to be used on the state seal and the Legislature approved both the seal and the motto at the same time.

The state motto also appears on the great seal and the state flag, and one of Minnesota's nicknames is "The North Star State."

Minnesota State Motto
"L'Etoile du nord"

There are four states with mottos that focus on geography:

  1. Alaska: "North to the Future"
  2. Minnesota: "L'Etoile du Nord" (Star of the North),
  3. Indiana: "The Crossroads of America"
  4. Michigan: "Si Quaeris Peninsulam Amoenam Circumspice" (If You Seek a Pleasant Peninsula, Look About You)

Minnesota Law

The law designating the official Minnesota state motto is found in the  Minnesota Statutes 2004, Chapter 1, Section 1.135, Subdivision 3. The complete statute relating to the state seal consists of six subdivisions.

This statute describes the Minnesota state seal. The motto is specified within this description.


Subd. 3 Design The design of the seal is as described in this subdivision.

(a) The seal is composed of two concentric borders. The outside forms the border of the seal and the inside forms the border for the illustrations within the seal. The area between the two borders contains lettering.

(b) The seal is two inches in diameter. The outside border has a radius of one inch and resembles the serrated edge of a coin. The width of the border is 1/16 of an inch.

(c) The inside border has a radius of three-fourths of an inch and is composed of a series of closely spaced dots measuring 1/32 of an inch in diameter.

(d) Within the area between the borders "The Great Seal of the State of Minnesota" is printed in capital letters. Under that is the date "1858" with two dagger symbols separating the date and the letters. The lettering is 14-point century bold.

(e) In the area within the inside border is the portrayal of an 1858 Minnesota scene made up of various illustrations that serve to depict a settler plowing the ground near the Falls of St. Anthony while he watches an Indian on horseback riding in the distance.

(f) For the purposes of description, when the area within the inside border is divided into quadrants, the following illustrations should be clearly visible in the area described.

(1) In the upper parts of quadrants one and two, the inscription "L'Etoile du Nord" is found on the likeness of a scroll whose length is equal to twice the length of the inscription, but whose ends are twice folded underneath and serve to enhance the inscription. The lettering is 7-point century bold.

(2) In quadrant two is found a likeness of a sun whose ambient rays form a background for a male Indian in loincloth and plume riding on horseback at a gallop. The Indian is sitting erect and is holding a spear in his left hand at an upward 60-degree angle to himself and is looking toward the settler in quadrant four.

(3) In quadrant one, three pine trees form a background for a picturesque resemblance of St. Anthony Falls in 1858.

(4) In quadrants three and four, cultivated ground is found across the lower half of the seal, which provides a background for the scenes in quadrants three and four

(5) In quadrant three, a tree stump is found with an ax embedded in the stump and a period muzzle loader resting on it. A powder flask is hanging towards the end of the barrel.

(6) In quadrant four, a white barefoot male pioneer wearing clothing and a hat of that period is plowing the earth, using an animal-drawn implement from that period. The animal is not visible. The torso of the man continues into quadrant two, and he has his legs spread apart to simulate movement. He is looking at the Indian.

Mottos of the States
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