Nebraska Symbols


Nebraska Bluebook, compiled by the Clerk of the Legislature, Room 2018, State Capitol, Lincoln, Nebraska, 68509, 1998-1999 and 2002-2003 editions.

American Folk Dance

Square Dance

Adopted: September 19, 1997

On September 19, 1997, Governor Ben Nelson declared the square dance to be the official state American folk dance. Square dancing developed as the nation progressed toward the west. It became a popular diversion from the hardships settlers faced. Square dancing is called, cued or prompted to dancers.




Adopted: September 10, 1998

On September 10, 1998, Governor Ben Nelson declared milk to be the official state beverage. The dairy industry is an important part of Nebraska's agricultural economy.


Western Meadowlark

Western Meadowlark

Adopted: March 22, 1929

The western meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta) was designated as the state bird by legislative action in 1929. The western meadowlark is abundant throughout the state and is noted for its joyous song. The birds are eight to 11 inches long and are brown and streaked above, with bright yellow underparts interrupted by a bold crescent of black across the upper breast, and white outer tail feathers. The birds nest on the ground in grassy fields or meadows and feed largely on insects.


Channel Catfish

Channel Catfish

Adopted: September 13, 1997

On September 13, 1997, Governor Ben Nelson declared the channel catfish (Ictalurus punctatus) to be the official state fish. The channel catfish is a popular sport fish that is often used for food. It has distinctive barbels or "whiskers" that are covered with taste buds. Its diet consists of aquatic insects, crayfish, fish, frogs and plant material. Channel catfish spawn during summer in cavities created by tree roots or rocks and often defend their nests (SNR photo).



Adopted: March 28, 1925

In 1925, Nebraska Rep. J. Lloyd McMaster of Lancaster County introduced House Roll 62, which designated an official flag or banner for the state of Nebraska. After the bill was signed by the governor on March 28, 1925, Nebraska had a state flag. It consists of the state seal on a field of national blue.

The bill also states that no part of the state flag is to be used in a business advertisement or trademark. Insulting the flag is forbidden, and penalties for violation of the bill's provisions are named. As passed, the bill appropriated $100 to the secretary of state to reproduce and publish the banner. After this, representation of the flag could be used and sold by individuals, partnerships, voluntary associations and corporations. State law requires that the flag be displayed on or near the state Capitol, the governor's mansion, all courthouses, city or village halls, schoolhouses and other public administration buildings under or to the left of the United States' flag.

The state flag was first displayed at a 1926 New Year's Day reception attended by more than 4,000 people at the new state Capitol. The original flag is displayed in the secretary of state's office in the Capital.




Adopted: April 4, 1895

The goldenrod (Soldiago gigantea) was declared the state flower by legislative action in 1895. Numerous species of goldenrod grow throughout the state. The goldenrod is an erect, coarse-looking perennial herb that is usually about two or three feet tall. The small flower heads, which are almost always yellow but sometimes have cream-colored or white rays, are grouped into either elongated or flattish clusters. The flowers appear from July through October. The resolution was signed into law by then-governor Silas A. Holcomb on April 4, 1985.




Adopted: March 1, 1967

The mammoth was named Nebraska's state fossil by legislative action on Nebraska's 100th birthday, March 1, 1967. Various species of the mammoth crossed the Bering Strait land bridge and spread throughout most of North America. Mammoths were elephants, but some were larger than the modern elephant. Early prehistoric people hunted the mammoth and found the animal's ivory tusks useful in making tools and realistic etchings. Mammoth remains have been found in most Nebraska counties. One mammoth found in Lincoln County, Archidiskodon imperator maibeni, was one of the world's largest elephant fossils. It is displayed in the University of Nebraska State Museum in Lincoln (Image courtesy of the University of Nebraska State Museum).


Blue Agate

Blue Agate

Adopted: March 1, 1967

Blue chalcedony, commonly called the blue agate, was named Nebraska's state gemstone by legislative action in 1967. A pale stone, blue chalcedony, sometimes a dark internal form with bands of blue and white and often has a colorless streak. Blue agates often are used to make jewelry. The blue agate can be found in northwestern Nebraska.


Little Bluestem

Little Bluestem

Adopted: May 5, 1969

Little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium) was designated the official state grass by legislative action in 1969. Little bluestem, a vigorous native prairie grass, grows throughout the Great Plains and beyond. In central and western Nebraska, it grows in bunches and is sometimes called "bunch grass." In some areas, it also is known as "beard grass." The grass is an important native hay and forage grass.


Honey Bee


Adopted: 1975

The honeybee (Apis mellifica) was named the official Nebraska state insect by legislative action in 1975. Honey production is a $3.1 million industry in Nebraska. In 1997, according to the Nebraska Agricultural Statistics Service, there were about 61,000 colonies of honeybees in the state producing more than 4 million pounds of honey.


Whitetail Deer

Whitetail Deer

Adopted: February 26, 1981

The 1981 Legislature designated the white-tail deer (Odocoileus virginianus) as the state mammal. The whitetail deer is a herbivorous hoofed mammal found in farmlands, brushy areas and woods. If alarmed, this deer raises its tail, exhibiting a conspicuous flash of white that can communicate danger to other deer or help a fawn to follow its mother in flight. The feeding habits of white-tailed deer are flexible: they graze on green plants; eat acorns, nuts and corn in the fall; and browse on woody vegetation in winter. Whitetail deer hunting is a popular recreational activity in Nebraska.


Equality Before the Law


Cornhusker State

Adopted: 1945

Tree Planters' State

Adopted: April 4, 1895

Nebraska has had two official state names: the Tree Planters' State and the Cornhusker State.

Nebraska was designated the Tree Planters' State by legislative action in 1895. Nebraska's claim to tree-planting fame includes the founding of Arbor Day in 1872 by J. Sterling Morton of Nebraska City, the Timber Culture Act of U.S. Senator Phineas W. Hitchcock in 1873, and the millions of trees planted by early settlers as windbreaks, woodlots and orchards.

The 1945 Legislature changed the official name to the Cornhusker State, thus repealing the 1895 act. The name is derived from the nickname for the University of Nebraska athletic teams, the Cornhuskers. The term "cornhusker" comes from the method of harvesting or "husking" corn by hand, which was common before the invention of husking machinery.

Poet & Poet Laureate

William Kloefkorn

William Kloefkorn - Poet

Adopted: September 11, 1982

William Kloefkorn of Lincoln was named Nebraska's first state poet by proclamation of Governor Charles Thone on September 11, 1982. Kloefkorn is an emeritus English professor at Nebraska Wesleyan University in Lincoln. Kloefkorn's works have appeared in numerous periodicals and newspapers. He has written 18 books. Kloefkorn assisted in starting Nebraska's Poets-in-the-Schools program, and has given readings and conducted workshops at colleges and universities across the United States (Image courtesy of the UNL Nebraska Writing Project web site).

John G. Neihardt

John G. Neihardt - Poet Laureate

Adopted: 1921

The 1921 Legislature named John G. Neihardt (1881-1973) as Poet Laureate of Nebraska. Neihardt's first book of poetry was published in 1908. In 1912, he began writing The Epic Cycle of the West, consisting of five long narrative poems, and this became his chief literary work. These poems are Neihardt's substantial and unique contribution to the history of Nebraska and the West (Image courtesy of the John C. Neihardt State Historic Site web site).


Platte River

Platte River

Adopted: February 28, 1998

On February 26, 1998, Governor Ben Nelson declared the Platte River to be the official state river. The Platte, formed by the junction of the North Platte and South Platte rivers near the city of North Platte, flows east through central Nebraska into the Missouri River. The stream is 310 miles (500 kilometers) long.

The Platte is too shallow for navigation, but it is an important source of water for farm irrigation, municipal and industrial uses, recreation and hydroelectric power production. The river also provides habitat for sandhill cranes, other migratory birds, fish and other wildlife.

The Platte River Valley has been an important east-west human transportation corridor throughout history. The Oregon, Mormon and California trails, the Pony Express route, the Union Pacific Transcontinental Railroad, the first transcontinental paved highway (U.S. Highway 30) and Interstate 80 all have followed the Platte. (IANR/NU Photo).


Prairie Agate

Prairie Agate

Adopted: March 1, 1967

On March 1, 1967, Nebraska's 100th birthday, the prairie agate was declared the Nebraska state rock by legislative action. Agate is a semiprecious stone, and Nebraska has an abundance of it, especially in the Oglala National Grassland. Agate is a variegated quartz noted for its layered varieties. In most specimens, the bands are very coarse and differ in color and transluceny, as well as in compactness and porosity. The prairie agate, distinguished from most other agates because it seldom has these bands, is still colorful, has a rounded irregular shape and is popular for jewelry.



Adopted: June 15, 1867

The first constitution of Nebraska provided in Article III, Section 8: "There shall be a seal of the state, which shall be kept by the Governor and used by him officially, and shall be call the Great Seal of the State of Nebraska. The present constitution states: "There shall be a seal of the state, which shall be kept by the Secretary of State and used by him officially as directed by law."

To provide for the original seal, Isaac Wiles of Cass County introduced a bill in the House of Representatives on May 31, 1967, to obtain a seal for Nebraska. It was signed by then-governor David Butler on June 15, 1867.

The seal's design is: on the right, a steamboat ascending the Missouri River. The Rocky Mountains are on the left. In the background, a train of cars is heading towards the Rockies. The mechanic arts are represented by a smith with hammer and anvil. Agriculture is represented by a settler's cabin and sheaves of wheat. At the top is the state motto, "Equality Before the Law." (Image courtesy of Nebraska Secretary of State's Office Web Site).

Soft Drink



Adopted: May 21, 1998

On May 21, 1998, Governor Ben Nelson declared Kool-Aid to be the official state soft drink.  The fruit-flavored drink was developed in Hastings in 1927 by Edwin E. Perkins, founder and president of the Perkins Products Company.


Holdrege Soil


Adopted: April 5, 1979

Approved by the governor on April 5, 1979, a bill introduced by Senator Maurice Kremer of Aurora adopted the official state soil: soils of the Holdrege series, classified as Typic Argiustolls, fine-silty, mixed, mesic (SNR photo).


Beautiful Nebraska, peaceful prairie land,
Laced with many rivers and the hills of sand;
Dark green valleys cradled in the earth,
Rain and sunshine bring abundant birth.

Beautiful Nebraska as you look around,
You will find a rainbow reaching to the ground;
All these wonders by the Master's hand;
Beautiful Nebraska land.

We are so proud of this state where we live,
There is no place that has so much to give.

Beautiful Nebraska, as you look around,
you will find a rainbow reaching to the ground;
All these wonders by the Master's hand;
Beautiful Nebraska land.

Beautiful Nebraska

Adopted: June 21, 1967

Nebraska legislators discussed the selection of a state song through several sessions, finally selecting tunes and lyrics in 1967. Tapped by the lawmakers was Beautiful Nebraska, composed by Jim Fras of Lincoln (words by Fras and Guy G. Miller). Fras, a Russian refugee who came to Lincoln in 1952, is a professional entertainer and composer. The song became the state's official song on June 21, 1967.




Adopted: 1972

American Elm

Adopted: February 15, 1937

The American elm (Ulmus Americana L.) was named Nebraska's first state tree in 1937, but the 1972 Legislature named the cottonwood (Populus deltoides) as the state tree. The cottonwood often is associated with pioneer Nebraska. Several famous early landmarks were cottonwood trees, and their shoots often were collected by settlers who planted them on their claims. Today, the cottonwood grows throughout the state.

Village of Lights

Cody, Nebraska

Cody, Nebraska

Adopted: December 11, 1997

On December 11, 1997, Governor Ben Nelson declared Cody to be Nebraska's official Village of Lights. Cody, Nebraska, in 1880. Cody was incorporated in 1901 (Image courtesy of Virtual Nebraska, CALMIT, UNL).