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Indiana State


Indiana State is located in the midwestern United States and Great Lakes Region of North America. Indiana's capital and largest city is Indianapolis. It is a part of the former Territory Northwest of the River Ohio, more commonly known as the Northwest Territory, which was an organized incorporated territory of the United States spanning most or large parts of six eventual U.S. States. Northwest Territory existed legally from July 13, 1787, until March 1, 1803, when the southeastern portion of the territory was admitted to the Union as the state of Ohio, and the remainder was reorganized. One of the parts was the Territory of Indiana that existed from 4 July 1800, until 11 December 1816, when the remaining southern portion of the territory was admitted as the 19th state to the Union as Indiana State.



The coat of arms of Indiana has a representation of a landscape with a running american buffalo (Bison bison - Bovidæ) and a woodsman cutting trees and a sun rising sun over the mountains in the distance. The picture is identical to the picture on the seal adopted in 1816.

Like many other American coats of arms the arms of Indiana have become obsolete.



The Territory of the United States Northwest of the River Ohio Ordinance of 1787 makes no mention of a seal. [1] The Laws of the Territory of the United States Northwest of the River Ohio make no provision for a seal for the territory either.

According to one letter from the Department of State, “‘The earliest mention of use of the seal is in [Governor Arthur] St. Clair’s proclamation of July 26, 1788’” It was:


“A landscape with a river and mountains in the distance, a sun in the sky, on the river two boats and on the foreground a coiled snake, an apple tree and a felled forest tree cut into logs. In base the motto ‘MELIOREM LAPSA LOCAVIT!’(He has planted a better than the fallen). All within the legend THE SEAL OF THE TERRITORY OF THE U.S.N.W. OF THE RIVER OHIO.” [2]


Seal of Northwest Territory 1788 [3]


The seal was more or less legitimized by an Act of Congress, approved May 8, 1792, directing the U.S. Secretary of State to “provide proper seals for the several and respective public offices in the said Territories [northwest and south of the river Ohio].” [4]


When the Indiana Territory was created by an act of Congress, no provision for an official seal was included in the measure. The earliest recorded use of Indiana Territory's seal was on court documents that were signed by Governor William Henry Harrison in January 1801. The seal he used was an adaptation of the original seal created for the Northwest Territory. Although its origin is uncertain, it is likely that it was Harrison who made the alterations.



From: Farmer, Silas: The history of Detroit and Michigan or the metropolis illustrated;  1889. P. 139


The constitution of 1816 contained a clause that stated the governor should maintain a state seal and use it in official communication. The design of the seal was first proposed during the first session of the Indiana General Assembly in 1816.  On 22 November 1816, representative Davis Floyd of Harrison County proposed the adoption of a seal with a design he referred to as

“A forest and a woodman felling a tree, a buffalo leaving the forest and fleeing through the plain to a distant forest, and sun in the west with the word Indiana at the bottom of the Seal.” The bill was put through a joint conference of both houses of the General Assembly and funds where voted to purchase a printer to create the seal.

Indiana State Seal adopted 1816


During 1895, Robert S. Hatcher, the reading clerk of the Indiana Senate, was directed to ascertain the legal status of the design of the state seal. After a thorough review, Hatcher found that the laws that authorized the seal did not explicitly state what its design should be. He recommended that a bill be passed to standardize the seal. Senator McCord submitted legislation for that purpose, but no action was taken on it.

On 28 January  1905, an article ran in the Indianapolis News containing information on the origin of the seal, some of it dubious. The article received much attention and started an informal inquiry into the history of the seal, and namely to discover if the sun in the seal was rising or setting. Jacob Piatt Dunn, the preeminent Indiana historian of the time, consulted several history and arrived at the conclusion that the sun was rising. Dunn cited the fact the state was young, and the mountains were to the east of the state, not the west - clearly indicating the sun was rising.

The current design of the seal was standardized by the Indiana General Assembly in 1963. During the meeting of the General Assembly, Representative Taylor I. Morris introduced legislation to standardize the design of the state seal. His bill described a seal that depicts a woodsman chopping a sycamore tree (Platanus occidentalis – Platanaceæ), while an American Bison (Bison bison –Bovidæ) runs in the foreground and the sun rises in the background. The leaves of the state tree, the tulip, were to be the border design. The bill passed the assembly that session and became law.


The law created to standardize the state seal has been in effect since 1963. The statute reads:


Indiana State Code: IC 1-2-4-1

The official seal for the state of Indiana shall be described as follows: A perfect circle, two and five eighths (2 5/8) inches in diameter, inclosed by a plain line. Another circle within the first, two and three eighths (2 3/8) inches in diameter inclosed by a beaded line, leaving a margin of one quarter (1/4) of an inch. In the top half of this margin are the words "Seal of the State of Indiana".

At the bottom center, 1816, flanked on either side by a diamond, with two (2) dots and a leaf of the tulip tree (liriodendron tulipifera), at both ends of the diamond. The inner circle has two (2) trees in the left background, three (3) hills in the center background with nearly a full sun setting behind and between the first and second hill from the left.

There are fourteen (14) rays from the sun, starting with two (2) short ones on the left, the third being longer and then alternating, short and long. There are two (2) sycamore trees on the right, the larger one being nearer the center and having a notch cut nearly half way through, from the left side, a short distance above the ground. The woodsman is wearing a hat and holding his ax nearly perpendicular on his right. The ax blade is turned away from him and is even with his hat.

The buffalo is in the foreground, facing to the left of front. His tail is up, front feet on the ground with back feet in the air, as he jumps over a log.

The ground has shoots of blue grass, in the area of the buffalo and woodsman.


In 2004, the 1963 statute came under criticism because it states the sun in the state seal is setting rather than rising. A thorough investigation by the Indiana Historical Bureau into the history of the seal led to the discovery that the original seal was created with the intention that the sun should, in fact, be depicted as rising. In both 2004 and 2005 legislation was introduced to change the wording of the statute, but as of 2008 no action had been taken to correct the error. [5]


Indiana Seal 1900 ca

Indiana Seal after 1963





Car painting (right)


Indiana State Area Command






That for regiments and separate battalions of the Indiana Army National Guard: From a wreath of colors, a demi-lion rampant Argent, holding in dexter paw a laurel branch Vert.


The crest is the crest of the Harrison family whose history is most intimately associated with that of Indiana.


The crest for color bearing organizations of the State of Indiana was approved on 16 May 1923.


Distinctive Unit Insignia




A Gold color metal and enamel device 2.94 cm in height overall, consisting of a shield and crest blazoned:


Azure, within a circle of thirteen mullets a mullet and a torch in pale and to base an inner half circle of five mullets, all Or.


From a wreath Or and Azure, a demi-lion rampant Argent, holding in dexter paw a laurel branch Vert. 
Attached below the shield a gold scroll inscribed "
SERVICE FOR SECURITY" in Blue letters.


The distinctive unit insignia was originally approved for the State Staff and State Detachment, Indiana National Guard on 24 April 1935. It was redesignated for the Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment and noncolor bearing units of the Indiana Army National Guard on 13 January 1971. The insignia was redesignated with blazon revised for Headquarters, State Area Command, Indiana Army National Guard, effective 1 May 1984.


Shoulder Sleeve Insignia




On an ultramarine blue shield 6.35 cm in width and 8.89 cm in height with a 0.32 cm golden yellow border, a star above a flaming torch emitting seven rays, all golden yellow.


The shoulder sleeve insignia was originally approved for the Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, Indiana National Guard on 17 May 1949.  It was redesignated effective 1 May 1984, with description revised, for Headquarters, State Area Command, Indiana Army National Guard. (TIOH Dwg. No. A-1-482)


Pokagon Band


Present Pokagon Seal


The Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians of Michigan and Indiana was party to 11 treaties with the federal government, with the major land cession being under the 1833 Treaty of Chicago. During the Indian removals, many Potawatomi bands were moved west. But, Chief Leopold Pokagon negotiated to keep his Potawatomi band of 280 people in southwestern Michigan. It was the only Potawatomi band who did not go through removal west of the Mississippi River.

Under the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934, the Pokagon Band wanted to restore its self-government and requested recognition as a tribe by the Department of the Interior, but were denied. After years of petitioning, the Pokagon Band regained recognition in 1994.


Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians Seal of the Nation

The present Pokagon Band seal has evolved over the last 30 years. The seal was first developed in the 1970’s during the Band’s long struggle for federal recognition. The seal represents the story of how fire was brought to the Néshnabek. Fire is a gift to the people, brought by the hawk as a piece of the sun. This is particularly important to the Potawatomi since our name means “he builds a fire” and refers to the role the Potawatomi played as keepers of the fire in the Three Fires Confederacy with the Odawa and Ojibwe. The drawing is centered within a round border, symbolizing the centering of all life within the fours directions of Mother Earth.

First Pokagon Band Seal


In the years following the Band’s 1994 federal reaffirmation, the seal was redesigned. The community felt that the seal still had relevance to the tribe and its mission. The seal was updated to include the vibrant colors of traditional woodlands design, and was also incorporated into a flag on a yellow background. [6]


Æ See illustration in the head of this section



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© Hubert de Vries 2015-11-16




[1] English, William Hayden: Conquest of the Country Northwest of the River Ohio, 1778-1783 . . ., 2 vols. Indianapolis, 1896, 2: Pp. 769-75. English investigated the origins and description of the seal of the Northwest Territory, working with the United States Department of State. He provides copies of the letters received and other research and conclusions in the effort to reconstruct the complete seal image.

[2]  English, op. cit. 1896.  Letter quoted on p. 773.

[3] According to English op. cit. pp. 773, 774: “an exact reproduction, in every respect, of the original seal”.

[4] Kettleborough, Charles: Constitution Making in Indiana. Indianapolis, 1916, 1: 38. Also see:  http://www.in.gov/history/2804.htm

[5] This section after Wikipedia: Seal of Indiana.

[6] http://www.kankakeevalleyhistoricalsociety.org/Kankakee%20River%20History/Books%20and%20papers/Pokagon%20history.pdf

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