The History of the NM State Flag

History of the NM State Flag

Everyone who is anyone knows the New Mexico State Flag is one of the best flags in history. Indeed, the NM State Flag has won silly internet polls dating back to the creation of the internet.

Zia New Mexico Flag

But not many know that the famous red and yellow Zia flag was not the original State Flag of New Mexico. The Zia flag was adopted as the State flag in 1925, a good 13 years after New Mexico’s admittance into the United States as the 47th state. And for the first few years, there was apparently no NM State flag at all – How New Mexican is that?!

Ralph Emerson Twitchell.JPG
Ralph Emerson Twitchell, designer of first flag of New Mexico

In 1915, early New Mexican politico, attorney, historian, and carpetbagger Ralph Emerson Twitchell, designed the first State Flag of New Mexico. Originally from Michigan, Twitchell hastily designed a flag to be shown at a the San Diego World’s Fair. The flag had a blue background, a miniature US flag in the corner, #47 in the another corner, the State Seal in the other corner, and the words “New Mexico” on it. It was so ugly it is now considered to be kind of cool.

First Flag of New Mexico, 1915-1925

In the 1920s, folks realized how ugly the original flag was so the Daughters of the American Revolution (huh?) pushed for a new flag and held a design competition. Dr. Harry Mera saw the design on a piece of pottery from Zia and his wife created the colors, and the rest is history.

Statutory description


12-3-2. That a flag be and the same is hereby adopted to be used on all occasions when the state is officially and publicly represented, with the privilege of use by all citizens upon such occasions as they may deem fitting and appropriate. Said flag shall be the ancient Zia sun symbol of red in the center of a field of yellow. The colors shall be the red and yellow of old Spain. The proportion of the flag shall be a width of two-thirds its length. The sun symbol shall be one-third of the length of the flag. Said symbol shall have four groups of rays set at right angles; each group shall consist of four rays, the two inner rays of the group shall be one-fifth longer than the outer rays of the group. The diameter of the circle in the center of the symbol shall be one-third of the width of the symbol. Said flag shall conform in color and design described herein.