There are four flags in the union that do not contain the color blue. The first is California that incorporated their flag in 1840 when they were still a part of Mexico. In 1895 Alabama introduced their flag which features the crimson cross of St. Andrew. The two other two non-blue flags came about during the twentieth century. In 1904 Maryland’s flag featured the Calvert and Crossland family emblems, who were once the Lords of Baltimore. Finally, in 1925 New Mexico introduced their flag featuring the Zia Sun symbol.
Velino Shije Herrera was born at Zia Pueblo in 1902 with the name Ma Pe Wi, which means Red Bird. At the age of 15 Herrera attended the Santa Fe Indian School under the tutelage of Dorothy Dunn. Four years later, in 1919, his work, along with others students, became an exhibit at the Museum of New Mexico. By 1932 he had a successful art studio in Santa Fe and became an art teacher at the Albuquerque Indian School. In 1920 the self-taught artist gave the state of New Mexico permission to use his design of the Zia sun symbol as the state’s logo, which appears on the state flag.
According to historical records, Herrera was excommunicated from the pueblo for betraying his tribe by giving a sacred design to non-Natives and for depicting ceremonial practices in his art. By 1939 Herrera and other artists did work for the WPA. Under FDR’s Deal Program they painted large murals depicting Pueblo life at the U.S. Department of the Interior in Washington D.C. The the artists included Allan Houser Woodrow Crumbo and Gerald Nailor.
The End of a Career
In 1954 Herrera received severe injuries in a head-on collision on the highway to Taos. After the accident Velino Shije Herrera’s career as one of New Mexico’s leading Native American artists came to an abrupt end. He spent the rest of his life living as a rancher and died in 1973.