State Symbols

State Bird


Meadowlark (American icteroid), 1927 SEA 2. In 1978, Title 8 was revised by HEA 37 and the statute was simplified by removing many of the unnecessary words.

State Butterfly

Sheridan's Green Hairstreak Butterfly (Callophrys sheridanii), 2009 SEA 20. The original bill called for it to be named the state insect, but the wording was changed to butterfly before the final reading.

State Code

The Code of the West, as derived from the book, Cowboy Ethics by James P. Owen, and summarized as follows:

1. Live each day with courage
2. Take pride in your work
3. Always finish what you start
4. Do what has to be done
5. Be tough, but fair
6. When you make a promise, keep it
7. Ride for the brand
8. Talk less, say more
9. Remember that some things are not for sale
10. Know where to draw the line

In 2010, Wyoming became the first state to adopt an symbolic state code of ethics, SEA 7.

State Coin

Credit United States Mint, Pressroom Image Library

Sacajawea Golden Dollar Coin, 2004, SEA 7.

State Dinosaur

Triceratops, 1995. The choice was made by a vote of 650 Wyoming schoolchildren in the spring of 1994. Wyoming was the first state to choose an official state dinosaur, SEA 16.

State Fish

Cutthroat trout (Salmo clarki), 1987 HEA 7.

State Flag

Postcard, WY State Flag, color.jpg

Before 1916, the state flag was simply the state seal printed in the center of a blue field. It was the flag carried by Wyoming National Guardsmen to the Philippines in the Spanish American War. The present state flag featuring the figure of the bison and state seal was drawn by Verna (Keays) Keyes for a Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR)-sponsored contest in 1916. Though the original drawing included a bison facing to the right, this was changed by Dr. Grace Raymond Hebard prior to introduction so that the bison would face west (left). 1917 SEA 6.

The following legend of the flag was written by Miss Keays and accompanied her design:

  • "The Great Seal of the State of Wyoming is the heart of the flag.
  • The seal of the bison represents the truly western custom of branding. The bison was once the 'monarch of the plains.'
  • The red border represents the Red Men, who knew and loved our country long before any of us were here; also, blood of the pioneers who gave their lives reclaiming the soil.
  • White is an emblem of purity and uprightness over Wyoming.
  • Blue, which is found in the bluest of blue Wyoming skies and the distant mountains, has through the ages been significant of fidelity, justice and virility.
  • And finally, the red, white and the blue of the flag of the State of Wyoming are the colors of the greatest flag in all the world, the Stars and Stripes of the United States of America."

In 1945, Mrs. Keyes was presented with one of the original flags. "...Through oversight, this state's resulting debt of gratitude to her has never been discharged; she has requested in lieu of any other reward or remuneration for services rendered, that one of the flags aforesaid be delivered to her as the property of, and to remain in the home or homes of, herself and her heirs only, upon condition that it shall never be otherwise displayed." 1945 SEA 41.

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Verna (Keays) Keyes holds up a state flag, ca 1952. (WSA Sub Neg 26047)

Territorial Flag

No Neg, WY Territorial Flag, Polaroid.jpg

An official Wyoming Territorial flag was designated in 1991. The design chosen was what appears to have been used unofficially during the territorial period, the territorial seal on a field of blue. SEA 26.

Sub Neg 7202, WY Nat'l Guard Regiment Officers, Camp ESOT near Dale Creek.jpg
Wyoming National Guard regimental officers with what is thought to have been used as the Territorial flag and the American flag commemorating the Spanish American War of 1898. Camp ESOT near Dale Creek, Wyoming, 1910. (WSA Sub Neg 7202)

State Flower

indian paintbrush.jpg

Indian paintbrush (Castillija linariaefolia), 1917 SEA 7. In 1978, Title 8 was revised by HEA 37 and the statute was simplified by removing many of the unnecessary words.

State Fossil

Fossilized fish (Knightia), 1987 HEA 7.

State Gemstone

Jade (nephrite), 1967 HEA 2. In 1978, Title 8 was revised by HEA 37 and the statute was simplified by removing many of the unnecessary words.

State Grass

Western Wheatgrass (Agropyron smithii), 2007 SEA 63. The bill originally called for blue grama (Bouteloua gracillis) but was changed before being passed by the Senate.

State Mammal

American Bison, 1985 SEA 56. The bill was introduced as SF 275, a bill designating the bison as the state mammal, the monarch butterfly as the state insect and the cutthroat trout as the state fish. It was significantly amended to delete reference to the insect and fish before it was passed naming the bison as the state mammal. This bill was in competition with HB 235 which also proposed a state mammal (pronghorn antelope), insect (monarch butterfly) and fish (cutthroat trout). HB 30 was also introduced during the session calling for the bison to be named the state mammal, but this bill died in committee.

State Motto

“Equal Rights,” 1955 HEA 56. In 1978, Title 8 was revised by HEA 37 and the statute was simplified by removing many of the unnecessary words. The motto can be seen on the official state seal.

State Reptile

Horned toad (Phrynosoma douglasi brevirostre (Girad)), 1993. In 1993, Larry Hodgson’s 3rd grade class at Gertrude Burns School in Newcastle began a campaign to make the horned toad the official state reptile. HEA 42.

State Seal

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The Wyoming State Seal as set in stone outside the state capitol building in Cheyenne.

1893, HB 23.

The 1891 State Legislature approved a design for the state seal by Rep. Hugo Buechner, a Cheyenne jeweler. Enroute to Acting Governor Amos Barber's desk for his signature, Fenimore Chatterton replaced the approved design with one of his own (in which Lady Liberty had mysteriously lost her clothes.) The deception was not immediately realized but when it was, the local newspapers ran with the scandal. As Secretary of State, Barber declared that until a new seal was designated by the Legislature, the Territorial Seal would continue to be used.

During the summer of 1891, Barber commissioned Philadelphia artist Edmund A. Stewardson to design a new seal and to prepare a four foot wide plaster mold of it to be displayed in his office. Though the Legislative committee had suggested that the figure on the left "be made to represent a shepherd with his crook," the Stewardson design was adopted by the 1893 State Legislature with the minor alteration of replacing "cattle" with "livestock" as a compromise.[1]

Soon after its adoption, the plaster seal was sent to the US Bureau of Engraving and Printing in Philadelphia so that the new official seal could be added to US bank notes and was subsequently misplaced.[2]

The original 1893 statue read:

  • "Section 1, There shall be a great seal of the State of Wyoming, which shall be of the following design, viz: A circle two and one-fourth inches in diameter, on the outer rim or edge of which shall be engraven the words "Great Seal of the State of Wyoming", and the design shall conform substantially to the following description:
  • A pedestal, showing on the front thereof an eagle resting upon a shield, said shield to have engraven thereon a star and the figures "44," being the number of Wyoming in the order of admission to statehood. Standing upon the pedestal shall be a draped figure of a woman, modeled after the statue of "Victory of the Louvre," from whose wrists shall hang links of a broken chain, and holding in her right hand a staff, from the top of which shall float a banner with the words "Equal Rights," thereon, all suggesting the political position of woman in this State. On either side of the pedestal, and standing at the base thereof, shall be male figures typifying the live stock and mining industries of Wyoming. Behind the pedestal, and in the background, shall be two pillars, each supporting a lighted lamp, signifying the light of knowledge. Around each pillar shall be a scroll with the following words thereon: On the right of the central figure the words "Live Stock" and "Grain" and on the left the words "Mines" and "Oil." A the base of the pedestal, and in front, shall appear the figures "1869-1890," the former date signifying the organization of the Territory of Wyoming, and the latter the date of its admission to statehood. A facsimile of the above described seal is here represented and is hereby made a part of this act."

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This photograph of the artist's plaster model accompanied the 1893 House bill. The word "Cattle" is clearly visible on the left column. (WSA SOS 1893 HB 23)

Several state seals are displayed around the Capitol Complex in Cheyenne. A pieced stone seal is set into the walk in front of the Capitol Building, stained glass seals are set into the ceilings of both the House and Senate chambers in the Capitol Building, a painted glass seal appears in the lobby of the Barrett Building. Granite monuments with bronze seals stand in front of many of the larger state buildings and smaller plaques with seals appear on most other state buildings.

Territorial Seal

Campbell, Proclamation, Thanksgiving Day 10-8-1869, early Territorial Seal detail.jpg
Detail from Thanksgiving Day 1869 proclamation by Gov. Campbell. (WSA RG001.1, proclamations)

The first Seal of the Wyoming Territory was designed by Wyoming's first governor John A. Campbell, who issued a proclamation on May 19, 1869, ordering its use until another could be adopted by the Territorial Legislature. This seal was used on printed documents, but never struck.

  • " Proclamation providing for a Territorial Seal
  • A mountain with a locomotive and train of cars crossing over its summit. Near the summit a spring of water, from which flow two streams, one to the east, and one to the west. In foreground at base of the mountain, a shovel and pickax, shepherd's crook and a plow grouped, all engraved on a shield; running from left to right on each side and underneath the shield the motto "Let us have Peace." Over the mountains the figures 1868.
  • Crest - an Elk's Head, surmounting fasces the whole surrounded by a double circle with the words "Wyoming Territory. Great Seal"
  • Ordered-That the above be the Great Seal of the Territory of Wyoming until another is adopted by the Legislature.

  • JAC"

Campbell, Proclamation, Thanksgiving Day 11-12-1874, Territorial Seal detail.jpg
Detail from Thanksgiving Day 1874 proclamation by Gov. Campbell. (WSA RG001.1, proclamations)

The Seal adopted by the Legislative Assembly on December 9, 1869, was, with some minor changes, in accordance with the design submitted by Governor Campbell.

The Legislative Act described it as follows:

  • "That the Seal of the Territory of Wyoming shall be of the following design, namely: A Norman shield, on the upper half of which is emblazoned a mountain scene, with a railroad train, the sun appearing above the horizon, the figures "1868" below the middle point of the top of the shield. On the first quarter below, on a white background, a plow, a pick, a shovel and a shepherd's crook; on the next quarter, namely: the lower point of the shield, on a red ground, an arm up-holding a drawn sword; the shield to be surmounted by the inscription, "Cedant Arma Toga," ["Let arms yield to the grown, or Let military authority give way to civil power."] and the entire design surrounded by the words, "Territory of Wyoming, great seal."

Territorial Seal, Appointment of MF Knadler Capt Co A 1st Regt Inf, WYNG, Laramie Greys, 5-28-1888, without flourishes.jpg
Territorial seal showing the 1882 amendments. This drawing is a slightly different interpretation than what was struck for the official embossing seal, which includes flourishes on the edges of the Norman shield and the wording appears in a ring around the shield. (WSA B-453, detail from certificate of appointment of M.F. Knadler, Capt Co A 1st Regt Inf, Wyoming National Guard, "Laramie Greys", 5-28-1888)

On March 10, 1882, the Legislative Assembly amended the 1869 act correcting the error in the Latin quotation from Cedant Arma Toga to Cedant Arma Togae, also the year 1868 was changed to 1869 to reflect the year organization of the territorial government, rather than the year the territory was created. These were the only changes by law, but when struck, the Norman shield was embellished. This seal was used until the official state seal was adopted in 1893.

State Shrub

Wyoming big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata wyomingensis), 2016 SEA 39. Proposed by the Hulett High School advanced biology class.

State Sport

Rodeo, 2003 HEA 123

State Song

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Wyoming State Song (WSA P2009-85)

“Wyoming,” words by Charles E. Winter, music by George E. Knapp, 1955 HEA 57. In 1978, Title 8 was revised by HEA 37 and the statute was simplified by removing many of the unnecessary words.

State Trademark

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Secretary of State Lester Hunt commissioned Allen True to draw the original bucking horse logo to be used on the license plate in 1936. (WSA Brammar Neg 4030)

Bucking horse and rider logo, 1998 HEA 47.

The bucking horse and rider was commissioned by then Secretary of State Lester Hunt to decorate the 1936 license plate. It was designed by Denver artist Allen True, who also painted several of the murals hanging in the Wyoming Capitol Building's legislative chambers. The logo proved to be so popular and identifiable that it was also adopted by the University of Wyoming athletics department.

State Tree

Cottonwood (Populus sargentii), 1947 HEA 4 provided for the generic cottonwood as the state tree. Then in 1961, SEA 69 amended the statute to include the scientific name. In 1978, Title 8 was revised by HEA 37 and much of the original wording was removed, including explanation for the choice and description of the physical tree (which was no longer living at the time), leaving only the name.

The prototype of the Wyoming State Tree stood near Thermopolis on the Paul Klein ranch (originally the J.M. Cover homestead.) The tree measured 29 feet in circumference and 76 feet 11 inches in height and was the largest of its kind in the United States. It burned on May 1, 1955, following a lightening strike.

State Holidays

The State of Wyoming observes many Federal holidays, including New Years Day, Presidents Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day.

Wyoming Equality Day/Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (Monday nearest January 15): This bill was the culmination of several years of work by State Senator Harriet "Liz" Byrd. In order to keep the number of state holidays the same, Columbus Day was removed as a state holiday. 1990 SEA 8.

Wyoming Veterans Welcome Home Day (March 30): "In recognition of the members of the United States armed forces who served bravely and faithfully for the United States during the Vietnam War, and to all those members of the United States armed forces who were not properly thanked or welcomed home following their military service, March 30 of each year is designated as "Wyoming Veterans Welcome Home Day." The day shall be appropriately observed in the public schools of the state and by organizations within the state. Additionally, it is recommended that Wyoming communities host "Wyoming Veterans Welcome Home Day" celebrations to ensure those members of the United States armed forces can be properly thanked and welcomed home." 2011 SEA

Native American Day (1st Friday in May): 2004 HEA 68.

Wyoming Day (Dec. 10): The designation of Wyoming Day, signed into law in 1935, ended a 20-year effort to select December 10 as the state’s official day. It was the anniversary of the date that Gov. John A. Campbell signed the Suffrage bill, granting equal rights to women in 1869. Statehood Day is July 10, commemorating President Harrison’s signing of the law admitting Wyoming to statehood in 1890. Designating Dec. 10 began with a resolution passed the Wyoming Federation of Women’s Clubs in 1917. Over the years, each legislature passed a resolution urging each governor to designate the day. It was not officially done until Gov. Leslie Miller signed the law in 1935.[3]

No longer observed

Columbus Day: replaced on the state holiday schedule by Wyoming Equality Day/Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Created 1931, repealed 1990 SEA 8.

SEA - Senate Enrolled Act
HEA - House Enrolled Act

Failed State Symbol Bills

1953, HB 255, a bill to designate "Wyoming's Indian Paint Brush" as the state song

1967, HB 119, a bill to designate halogeton as the official state weed, died in committee.

1971, SF 119, a bill to change the state song to "Wyoming" with words and music by James C. Grimes.

1973, SF 178, a bill to make minor changes to the design of the state seal.

1975, SF 158, a bill designating that the song "Wonderful Wyoming", words by Mrs. "Dicky" Devine, set to music of original "Whiffenpoof Song" by Todd B. Galloway, be designated as the official state song, returned, recommended do not pass.

1979, SF 187, a bill naming "Wyoming" by Frank Norris, Jr. the official state poem.

1985, SF 275, a bill designating the bison as the state mammal, the monarch as the state insect and the cutthroat trout as the state fish. The bill was significantly amended to delete reference to the insect and fish before it was passed naming the bison as the state mammal. This bill was in competition with HB 235.

1985, HB 30, a bill designating the American bison as the state mammal, died in committee. In competition with SF 275 and HB 235. The bison was named the state mammal during this session under a significantly amended SF 275/SEA 56.

1985, HB 235, a bill establishing the pronghorn antelope as the state mammal, the monarch butterfly as the state insect and the cutthroat trout as the state fish. This bill was in competition with SF 275.

1987, HB 41, a bill designating English as the official state language, withdrawn by sponsor.

1989, HB 432, a bill designating the golden eagle as the state bird, died in committee.

1989, SF 150, a bill to designate the Cotalus viridis, known as the prairie rattlesnake, as the state reptile.

1990, SF 144, a bill to designate "Greetings from Wyoming" by Idabel Cramer as the state poem of Wyoming, withdrawn.

1990, SF 86, a bill naming "Wide Open Wyoming" copyright 1985 by David Lawson as the second state song, withdrawn by sponsor.

1991, SF 235, a bill providing for a state poem contest, died on general file.

1991, HB 66, a bill designating the Pailio glaucus (tiger swallowtail butterfly) the official insect, failed in committee.

1991, SF 30, a bill designating Miss Wyoming as the official state hostess, died in general file.

1995, HB 158, a bill designating chocolate chip as the official state cookie, died in committee

1997, HB 258, a bill designating square dance as the official state dance, indefinitely postponed.

1999, HB 237, a bill designating square dance as the official American folk dance of the state, indefinitely postponed.

2001, HB 101, a bill designating the jackalope as the state mythical creature, died in committee.

2003, HB 108, a bill designating brown and yellow or true gold "as that color was featured on the uniforms of the University of Wyoming's football team in the year 1980" as the state colors, indefinitely postponed.

2003, HB 171, a bill designating the chocolate chip, as the state cookie, complete with recipe, indefinitely postponed.

2005, HB 4, a bill designating the jackalope as the state mythical creature, indefinitely postponed.

2007, SF 106, a bill designating blue grama (Bouteloua gracillis) as the state grass. The wording of this bill was changed to designate Western wheatgrass instead and was eventually passed as SEA 63. See State Grass above.

2013, HB 73, a bill calling for the Freedom Firearms (Freedom, Wyoming) single-action .454 Casull revolver to be named the official state firearm, died in committee.

2013, HB 149, a bill declaring the jackalope as the state mythical critter, failed in Senate.

2014, HB 68, a bill designating the chocolate chip as the state cookie, failed to be introduced.

2015, HB 66, a bill declaring the jackalope as the state legendary critter, died in committee.

SF - Senate File
HB - House Bill

State Symbol Bills Currently Under Consideration

Unofficial State Symbols

Brown and Gold: Colors of the the University of Wyoming and often used to represent the state as a whole.

"Powder River, Let 'er Buck!": A mantra indicating resolve used often by University of Wyoming Football Coach Joe Glenn and often repeated as a cheer

Statues in the U.S. Capitol Statuary Hall: Esther Hobart Morris, placed in April 1960; Chief Washakie, placed in September 2000. Replicas of both bronzes are currently displayed outside the Wyoming State Capitol Building entrance.

Nicknames & Slogans: Equality State, Cowboy State, Big Wyoming, Wonderful Wyoming, Wyoming Worth Knowing, Stop Roaming Try Wyoming

  • Robert Morris, Territorial Historian and son of Esther Morris, is given the credit for giving Wyoming the popular nickname of "The Equality State." His reasoning was that the Constitution provided that "The rights of the citizens of the state of Wyoming to vote and hold public office shall not be denied or abridged on account of sex. Both male and female citizens of this state shall equally enjoy all civil, political and religious rights and privileges."

The great seal of the State of Wyoming bears upon its face the motto of "Equal Rights" while the corporate seal of the University of Wyoming has for its motto "Equality."

Poet Laureate

Additional Resources

  • Wyoming Legislation (accessed June 2015) This database contains digitized and searchable copies of House and Senate journals and digests, bill jackets, and bill actions from 1869 to the present.
  • Wyoming Legislature Session Archives, Wyoming Secretary of State's Office (accessed June 2015) The SOS maintains a page dedicated to the records created by Legislative sessions 2001 to the present.

  1. ^ 1893 House Bill 23, "An Act providing for and adopting a Great Seal for the State of Wyoming," Secretary of State, RG 0002, Wyoming State Archives.
  2. ^ See also "Shenanigans by Legislator Delayed the Use of the Wyoming State Seal on Currency by Six Years," by Peter Huntoon, Annals of Wyoming Vol 84 No 2, Spring 2012, p2-9.
  3. ^ “New Wyoming Day Law Ends 20-year Fight,” Wyoming Eagle, February 22, 1935, p.2.