In 1916, Wyoming was one of the few states in the union that
could not claim an official state flag. Dr. Grace Raymond Hebard suggested to the DAR
that a Wyoming state flag should be designed. An open competition for the design of an
official Wyoming state flag was announced. The competition, advertised throughout the
state of Wyoming, was noticed by Wilbur Parke Keays and he suggested to his daughter
Verna that she submit a design to the DAR. One night Verna awakened from a sound sleep
and a complete and perfect design for the Wyoming state flag came to her. In the morning
Verna recreated the design that had come to her in the night finding great pleasure in
the inspirational "… Source of all Creation." Verna managed to complete her
design for the Wyoming state flag and submit it for consideration.
Several days after she submitted the design, Dr. Hebard called her from Sheridan to
inform her that her design for the Wyoming state flag had been awarded first place from
among the thirty-seven entries. With the assistance of Dr. Hebard, details of the
Wyoming state flag’s design were perfected, a technical description was written
and a bill was drafted for presentation to the Fourteenth State Legislature. Much
humorous wrangling took place over whether the bison should be changed to a donkey, an
elephant or a moose, representing the current political makeup of the state of Wyoming
at that time. In the end, the bison remained and the bill was passed and the Wyoming
state flag adopted on January 13, 1917. A bison, the Wyoming State mammal, is centered
on the Wyoming state flag.
Branded on the bison is the Great Seal of Wyoming. In the original design approved by
the State Legislature the bison is shown facing away from the staff. Verna had drawn the
bison as facing away from the staff symbolizing the freedom with which the bison had
once roamed over the Wyoming plains. Dr. Hebard had not agreed with this and suggested
that better balance of design would be achieved if the bison faced the staff. This is
the way that the first Wyoming state flags were manufactured and, though not "official"
this is how the bison has been shown since 1917. The colors of the Wyoming State Flag
are the same as those of the National Flag. The red border represents the Indians who
knew and loved the country long before the settlers came and also the blood of the
pioneers who gave their lives reclaiming the soil. White is the emblem of purity and
uprightness over Wyoming. Blue, the color of the sky and mountains, is symbolic of
fidelity, justice and virility.