fb pixel

Log In

Reset Password

Our motto goes back to 1854

I really like our state motto, "She flies with her own wings." But I'm curious how it became our motto. Was there a contest or something? My mom said it was because the men lost.

— Linda S., Medford

Your mom is no doubt a wise and wonderful person, but she also is a wee bit of a kidder, Linda.

At least we occupants of the SYA Man Cave like to think she was kidding. She was, wasn't she?

First of all, the ship of state, like a ship at sea, is often referred to as a "she." Your mother would probably say it's because females are more trustworthy. She may be on to something there. We SYA menfolk will get back to you on that one. Just tell her she hurt our feelings.


In any case, the motto first popped up in 1854 when Oregon was a territory. The phrase was suggested by Judge Jessie Quinn Thornton to show the territory's independence.

In fact, the motto was placed on the territorial seal in Latin: Alis Volat Propriis.

But in 1957, the Oregon Legislature changed the motto to "The Union" to demonstrate Oregon's siding with the North in the Civil War.

In 1987, Senate historian Cecil Edwards, Secretary of State Barbara Roberts and former State Senate President Jason Boe sponsored Senate Bill 1036, which proposed changing the motto back to "She flies with her own wings."

They felt it better reflected Oregon, which has led the nation with such innovative ideas as the first bottle bill and the public beach-access bill.

We suspect your mom would agree, Linda.