Did You Know: 17 Symbols Represent Arizona

By Nadine Arroyo Rodriguez
Published: Friday, January 3, 2014 - 2:12pm
Updated: Friday, September 5, 2014 - 2:45pm
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(Photo by Nadine Arroyo Rodriguez-KJZZ)
Inside the Arizona State Symbols exhibit. Among the symbols displayed in the background are the offical firearm and flower.
(Photo by Nadine Arroyo Rodriguez-KJZZ)
Inside the Arizona State Symbols exhibit. Among the symbols displayed in the background are the offical firearm and flower.
(Photo by Nadine Arroyo Rodriguez-KJZZ)
Arizona's original anthem is the "Arizona March Song" written in 1915 and recognized in 1919.
(Photo by Nadine Arroyo Rodriguez-KJZZ)
Arizona's state flag. The 13 red and gold rays represent the original 13 colonies, the blue represents the U.S. flag and the star represents the copper.
(Photo by Nadine Arroyo Rodriguez-KJZZ)
The petrified wood is Arizona's state fossil.
(Photo by Nadine Arroyo Rodriguez-KJZZ)
Turquoise is Arizona's state gem.

What comes to mind when you think about Arizona? The hot weather, cactus and citrus, but there is more to Arizona. There are many things that make us different.

Every state has something that represents it. A state flower, a bird, a tree and animals. They are recognized as symbols that shows how unique it is. Did You Know Arizona has 17 symbols to represent the state?

“When you’re looking at an official state symbol you’re looking at the end product of the law making process," said Alice Duckworth with the Arizona Capitol Museum.

The state symbols are showcased at the museum.

“And so, every once in a while they’ll introduce a bill regarding a symbol as a way for children to follow the process," said Duckworth. 

State symbols are often officially recognized after the legislature votes them into law. Most of Arizona’s symbols became official in the 20th Century.

Only a few were recognized in the last few years. The first official symbol for Arizona is the seal introduced in 1911. It includes the Latin motto, "Ditat Deus," meaning "God Enriches.” Six years later the state flag was recognized.

“The original 13 colonies are represented in the rays of the setting sun," Duckworth explained. 

By the fourth grade, Arizona students are introduced to the state’s history. Symbols are part of the lesson. So I dare to ask, are you smarter than a fourth grader?

Let’s see…what is the state flower. Yes, the Saguaro Cactus Blossom. What is the state bird? Yep, the Cactus Wren. How about…the state tree? It is the Palo Verde. 

Here is another…what is Arizona’s state reptile? Gotcha didn’t I? It got me. It is the Ridged-Nosed Rattlesnake.

“As I tell the kids you know that little thing of milk that you get for lunch, if you open that container up, you can put the rattlesnake in it. Not that we would want to," said Duckworth. 

Arizona is also represented by a gem stone, turquoise. Our state fish is the Apache Trout, the fossil is the petrified wood, the amphibian is the Arizona Tree Frog, our mammal is the Ringtail related to the raccoon and the state butterfly is the Two-Tailed Swallowtail.

Arizona’s colors are blue and gold. We even have an official neckware. It is the bola-tie.

In 2011, the Arizona state legislature introduced its newest symbol, the state firearm. It is the Colt Single Action Army Revolver.

One interesting fact, for decades Arizona’s nickname has been, yes, the Grand Canyon State. Museum historians say if it were not for an elementary school student doing research, the state legislature would never have made it official. We were the only state without a formal nickname until 2011.  

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