What Is the State Motto of Oregon?

Esther Ejim

The state motto of Oregon is Alis Volat Propiis, which is Latin for “She flies With Her Own Wings.” This motto has an interesting history because it was adopted as the state motto, then replaced, and adopted once more. The origin of the state motto of Oregon is attributed to Judge Quinn Thornton, who not only wrote the motto but also translated it into Latin in 1854 for incorporation into the territorial seal.

Oregon's Latin state motto translates as, "She flies with her own wings."
Oregon's Latin state motto translates as, "She flies with her own wings."

In 1957, the state motto of Oregon was changed to “The Union.” This remained the state motto until 1987 when it was changed to back to “She Flies With Her Wings.” The change was based on the 1987 Senate Bill 1036 that was sponsored by former Oregon state senate president Jason Boe, senate historian Cecil Edwards and Barbara Roberts, who was the Oregon secretary of state at that time.

Oregon is also known as “The Sunset State” because it is located in the far western United States.
Oregon is also known as “The Sunset State” because it is located in the far western United States.

Oregon’s state seal features an inscription of the previous motto, “The Union,” and it has several symbolic images. It has an inner circle made up of 33 stars, which represent the total number of states that composed the union by the time Oregon joined in 1859. The circle of stars surrounds a shield that includes a depiction of mountains, the Pacific Ocean, an elk and a covered wagon. Two vessels are shown on the Pacific Ocean; one of them is departing while the other one is arriving. The departing vessel is a British man-of-war, while the arriving vessel is an American steamer. This symbolizes the termination of British rule in Oregon.

Oregon’s state flag is unique among the flags of the states in the United States. It is the only flag that is two-sided, showing differing designs on the front and back. The flag has a navy blue color with gold lettering and images. One side has a depiction of the state seal with the state motto of Oregon, while the other side has a depiction of a golden beaver.

The official state nickname for Oregon is “The Beaver State,” a nickname that was officially adopted by legislature in 1969. Oregon also adopted the beaver as its state animal. The beaver was chosen for its industriousness and natural ability to construct habitable structures out of materials it discovers at the site of construction. Oregon is also known as “The Sunset State” because it was located farther toward the west than any other state in the union at the time. Now, Alaska and Washington hold that distinction.

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Discussion Comments


Yes, The motto of Oregon is about the independence of the state. It was actually coined referring to a vote in 1843 about Oregon becoming independent of both Britain and US. Of course, the motto was changed after that and the original was brought back. Even though it's the first motto in use now, it doesn't refer to that vote about independence anymore. It just refers to the independent spirit of Oregon and its residents. Most people refer to Oregon as "the Beaver state" anyway.


@bear78-- Well state mottos reflect the citizens of that state, their character and beliefs. So I think you're making a correct assumption. "Alis Vora Propiis" is also a very popular choice for tattoos. I have a friend who has taken it as her motto and she is a very independent woman who values her freedom above everything else. I think this is also the character of Oregon residents. That's why they embraced it not once, but twice.

"She Flies With Her Own Wings" could also imply a lack of dependence on other for one's own needs or to accomplish certain goals. So maybe Oregon was trying to establish itself among the other states.


Bu why was the motto "She Flies With Her Own Wings" adopted as the state motto? Why did Judge Quinn Thornton choose this rather than something else? Is there a meaning behind it?

I just moved to Oregon and learned the state motto recently. But I don't know much about the history of it. I'm guessing that it refers to the independence of Oregon but I'm not sure.

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