Wisconsin state symbols

Madison Capital + Skyline on MLK Jr. Blvd. | Photo by

Aerial view of the Madison Capital + Skyline looking down MLK Jr. Blvd. | Photo by @sekretempire

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From flags to football, why on earth are Wisconsinites also known as badgers? Speaking of badgers, what does the badger + the other elements on Wisconsin’s Coat of Arms represent? Today, we’re digging deeper into what makes Wisconsin Wisconsin.

Why ... a badger?

The state’s namesake has little to no actual tie to the mammal. Instead, it stems from the state’s history with lead mining.

In the early 1800s, French colonists forced Indigenous peoples — including the Ho-Chunk — to vacate their territories for lead excavation. Due to a lack of both time + resources, the French miners often would neglect building shelters — instead resorting to digging small caves into hillsides to seek refuge. It was this practice of burrowing that earned the miners —and our state — the nickname of badgers.

Wisconsin Coat of Arms

Wisconsin Coat of Arms | Photo from Wikicommons

Wisconsin State Flag

The Wisconsin State flag doesn’t offer any surprises to the untrained eye, but what makes our flag unique is the Coat of Armsthe insignia representative of the state. Every detail portrays state values:

  • The plow — agriculture
  • The pick + shovel — mining
  • The arm + hammer — manufacturing
  • The anchor — navigation
  • The shield — loyalty to the United States
  • The sailor — labor on water
  • The yeoman — labor on land
  • The horn — prosperity + abundance
  • The pyramid — mineral prosperity + the 13 original states
  • The badger — state animal
  • “Forward” — the state motto

Accordion to Wisconsin, we love to polka

Early Wisconsin settlers migrated from all over Europe, transplanting much of the music, art + culture we Badgers love. Wisconsin is partial to a particular polka dance — the Polish Hop. Both the Milwaukee Bucks + Brewers play “Beer Barrel Polka” during games. Locally, we hear that Essen Haus is the place to be on the weekends for polka music.

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