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Department of Interior (U.S.)

Last modified: 2019-07-30 by rick wyatt
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[Flag of the Dept. of the Interior] image by Joe McMillan, 9 December 2001



See also:


Department of the Interior flags are governed by Departmental Manual Part 310, Chapter 5 (310 DM 5), last revised 3 April 1990:
https://www.doi.gov/sites/doi.gov/files/migrated/ofas/asd/upload/Flagsandseals9-25-12-2.pdf

5.4.A.(2) "Description . The official flag of the Department of the Interior is 4 feet 5 inches on the hoist by 5 feet 6 inches on the fly. As shown in Illustration I, the color is light blue and white, arranged in four alternate triangles. The four quadrants represent these original major activities of the Department: Fish and Wildlife, Mineral Resources, Water and Power, and Public Land Management. In the center of the flag is depicted the Departmental seal, 26 inches in diameter.

(a) Indoor Flag . The flag for inside use is made of nylon cloth, with a pole hem and leather tabs, and trimmed on three sides with a gold-colored fringe 2-1/2 inches wide. The flag will be mounted on a staff surmounted by a gold spread eagle.
(b) Outdoor Flag . The flag for outside use is made of nylon without the gold-colored fringe. This flag is complete with a canvas heading and metal grommets.
(c) Department Vessel Flag . The vessel flag is 22 inches on the hoist by 32 inches on the fly and is fabricated from nylon cloth."
Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 26 October 2017


Description

The departmental seal on the flag of the Department of the Interior was changed a few years ago and I don't know if the seal on the Secretaries flag was also changed to match. The drawing I have for the Secretaries flag dates from 1949. My guess is that the current flag differs from the 1949 drawing although the drawing was never updated by the Institute of Heraldry. The main differences in the seal on the Secretary's flag from 1949 is that there is not the date in the designation band and the edges of the designation are roped.
John Niggley, 11 July 2000

Department of the Interior - 52 by 66 inches, light blue and white arranged in four alternate triangles (i.e., per saltire), with the seal of the department, 26 inches in diameter, on the center. The seal shows a male buffalo (American bison) standing on a prairie with mountains and the rising sun [sic] in the background. (The only mountains visible from a prairie where one would encounter a bison are the Rockies; they are west of the prairies and therefore any sun would be setting, not rising.) For indoor display, surrounded by 2 1/2 inch golden fringe, mounted on a staff with a gold-colored spread eagle, and decorated with a golden cord and tassel. Same proportions for outdoor hoisting, without fringe. Also exists as a vessel flag, 22 x 32 inches. The four triangles in the field are said to stand for the original areas of responsibility of the department: fish and wildlife, mineral resources, water and power, and public land management.
Joe McMillan, 9 December 2001


Secretary of the Interior

[Flag of the Secretary of the Interior]
image by Joe McMillan, 9 December 2001
1934-present
[1917 Flag of the Secretary of the Interior]
image by Joe McMillan, 9 December 2001
1917-1934

The flag of the Secretary is a solid light blue background with a similar seal centered and 7 white stars arranged in 2 straight horizontal rows with 3 above the seal and 4 below the seal.
John Niggley, 11 July 2000

Secretary of the Interior - 52 x 66 inches, oriental blue with the departmental seal, 26 inches in diameter, on the center. Across the top of the flag are three stars and across the bottom four more, white, fitting within imaginary circles 5 inches in diameter. The seven stars represent the seven principal subdivisions of the department when this flag was adopted: Bureau of Indian Affairs, Bureau of Reclamation, National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Mines, Geological Survey, and Fish and Wildlife Service. Gold fringe and cord and tassels, spread eagle finial. Also exists as a vessel flag, 22 x 32 inches without fringe, and an automobile flag, 18 x 26 inches without fringe. (Source: 310 DM 5.3 and illustration 3).

According to [kng49], page 642, the current Secretary of the Interior's flag was adopted in 1934.
John Niggley and Joe McMillan, 9 December 2001

The former flag was used until the mid-1930s, a horizontal triband, light blue-white-light blue, with the seal on the center surrounded by the seven white stars, three above and four below the seal, arranged in arcs. Note that the seal at the time differed from that currently in use, lacking the date of the department's establishment. Source: Drawings in File 840-10 Heraldic Activities: Department of the Interior, U.S. Army Institute of Heraldry. Same size, fringe, etc., as current flag.
Joe McMillan, 9 December 2001

From https://www.doi.gov/sites/doi.gov/files/migrated/ofas/asd/upload/Flagsandseals9-25-12-2.pdf:

5.4.B.
Secretary of the Interior Flag . The Secretary's flag is significant of the rank or office of the Secretary of the Interior. It may be displayed only in his/her office or in his/her immediate presence, such as on an automobile in which he/she is a passenger, or at functions at which he/she is present. At the Secretary's direction, it may be flown over Interior-controlled buildings in which he/she is present. At the written request of the Secretary and with the written concurrence of the appropriate GSA Regional Administrator, the Secretary’s flag may be flown over GSA-controlled buildings when the Secretary is present.
That's not a selection, that's the whole of it. Every letter is a separate flag, and B is the Secretary of the Interior Flag. Interestingly, the design of this flag is not specified. Whether this is because everybody knows it, because everybody understands its relation to a described flag or whether it is described elsewhere, I don't know.
5.4.C.
Secretary's Ceremonial Flag . The ceremonial flag of the Secretary of the Interior is 4 feet 5 inches on the hoist by 5 feet 6 inches on the fly, made of oriental blue nylon cloth. It is made with a pole hem and leather tabs, and trimmed on three sides by gold-colored fringe 2-1/2 inches wide. In the center of the flag is depicted the official seal of the Department 26 inches in diameter. Extending across from the left are seven stars, three above and four below the seal. Each star has 5 points and is 5 inches in diameter with one point upward. The stars represent the seven principal activities of the Department at the time the flag was adopted. These seven activities are: Bureau of Indian Affairs, Bureau of Reclamation, National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Mines, Geological Survey, and Fish and Wildlife Service. The flag is mounted on a staff surmounted by a gold spread eagle and decorated by a gold-colored cord with tassel at each end.
This separate ceremonial flag is described much more precisely. It's a bit strange to see that the field is specifically of nylon cloth, while the charges are of undetermined material. But one could well imagine what this flag looks like. The only iffy bit is that seven stars extend across the flag, three above the seal and four below. As they are mentioned as one group, I would place them as close together as the seal would allow, and I would place each star further extend towards the right, in a zigzag pattern. All depictions show four stars (almost) in the corners, one star along the top edge and two stars along the bottom edge.

It may well be that the design of the Flag is similar to that of the Ceremonial Flag. If so, we should still be able to tell them apart. A flag on a flag pole should not have a fringe, and the Flag, which might fly together with the Stars and Stripes, would have to be in a ratio of 10:19. Still, it just doesn't say. And these really are two separate flags: The ceremonial flag is C, rather than B.Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 26 October 2017

Pre-1817 Flag

[Flag of the Secretary of the Interior] image by Rob Raeside, 23 October 2011

The pre-1917 Interior Department Secretary's flag was a pretty simple affair, green with a brown buffalo and 4 stars. It is shown in the National Geographic Flag edition 1917. It is a basic forest green with a buffalo in brown in the center and 4 five pointed gold stars the corners. (it looks the buffalo is turning toward the viewer with the head (face) of the buffalo is facing out, this is instead of the buffalo being in profile as it has been since 1917)
Ben Cahoon, 23 October 2011


Under Secretary (Deputy Secretary) of the Interior

[Flag of the Under Secretary of the Interior] image by Joe McMillan, 9 December 2001

Under Secretary of the Interior - Same as the Secretary's flag, but white with blue stars. Used only for indoor display; no vessel or automobile variants. (Source: 310 DM 5.4 and illustration 4)
Joe McMillan, 9 December 2001

From https://www.doi.gov/sites/doi.gov/files/migrated/ofas/asd/upload/Flagsandseals9-25-12-2.pdf:

5.4.D.
Deputy Secretary of the Interior Flag . The ceremonial flag of the Deputy Secretary of the Interior is identical to that of the Secretary, except that the flag background is white and the stars are blue. It is made with police hem and leather tabs, and trimmed on three sides by gold-colored fringe 2 1⁄2 inches wide. The flag is for indoor display only, at his/her immediate office and at official functions and ceremonies at which the Deputy Secretary is the principal speaker.
(I expect that the "police hem" is the same thing as the "pole hem" of the Secretary's Ceremonial Flag.)

There's something curious here, as we are promised the Flag, but the description we get is for the Ceremonial Flag. Maybe the Flag didn't exist in the past, and someone thus didn't think to be careful of using the same terminology as for the flags of the Secretary.

We can see that the Flag now exists, as The Washington Post shows it as https://img.washingtonpost.com/rf/image_1484w/2010-2019/WashingtonPost/2017/10/12/National-Politics/Images/JN3_0800a-horizontal.JPG at "Where’s Zinke? The interior secretary’s special flag offers clues."
https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/wheres-zinke-the-interior-secretarys-special-flag-offers-clues/2017/10/12/68672476-aeb2-11e7-9e58-e6288544af98_story.html?utm_term=.6a24263d8164

Like the Ceremonial Flag, the Flag of the Deputy exchanges the white and the blue of the field and the stars. This must be the Flag, as it's too long to be the Ceremonial Flag, and it doesn't have a fringe.
Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 26 October 2017

Assistant Secretary of the Interior

[Flag of the Assistant Secretary of the Interior] image by Joe McMillan, 9 December 2001

Assistant Secretaries of the Interior - Same as the Under Secretary's flag, but with blue fringe, cord, and tassels. Used only for indoor display; no vessel or automobile variants. (Source: 310 DM 5.5 and illustration 5)
Joe McMillan, 9 December 2001

From https://www.doi.gov/sites/doi.gov/files/migrated/ofas/asd/upload/Flagsandseals9-25-12-2.pdf:

5.4.E.
Assistant Secretary Flag . The flag of the Assistant Secretaries is identical to the flag of the Deputy Secretary except that the flag is trimmed on three sides by blue-colored fringe 2 1⁄2 inches wide. The flag is for indoor display only in the offices of the Assistant Secretaries and at official functions and ceremonies at which an Assistant Secretary is the principal speaker.
This builds on the previous confusion by describing a flag equal to the which one? In the terminology used for the flags of the Secretary's flags, this is the Ceremonial Flag of the Assistant Secretaries, identical to the Ceremonial Flag of the Deputy Secretary except where noted.

In that terminology, there could not be Flag of the Assistant Secretaries the follows the same system, as removing the fringe and changing the ratio would make it the same as the Flag of the Deputy Secretary. This tells us that when neither the Secretary nor the Deputy is in the building, no other flag is raised to indicate an assistant is still there.
Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 26 October 2017