WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – State flag versus city flag. Some in New Mexico are calling Wichitans copycats claiming the two flags have similar symbols.

The New Mexico state flag has a yellow background with a red Zia symbol in the center. It’s the ancient Zia Indians of New Mexico’s symbol for the sun. It’s a red circle with groups of rays pointing in four directions.

A symbol that looks similar to the one on the city flag of Wichita. KSN’s sister station, KRQE, in Albuquerque reports it has people upset.

Some in New Mexico believe the flag’s artist Cecil McAlister stole the design since the New Mexico flag was created about 10 years before his.

There are some differences. The Wichita Flag only has three rays extending in each direction form the sun and a circle in the middle. The Zia has four rays.

“Oh it’s still very different,” said Shannon McMillian, a manager at Lucinda’s, a store known for carrying Wichita Flag merchandise. “It’s very much ours. There’s no copying maybe an inspiration. I don’t know it was created back in the 30’s,”

“It is similar, but I wouldn’t be surprised since they are both Native American inspired, I would think,” said Judy Jennison of Wichita.

Cecil McAlister drew the flag for a 1937 flag design contest and won, according to the Visit Wichita website. His flag became popular nearly 75 years later.

“We’ve had it on T-shirts and stickers for about 10 years now,” said McMillian. “But in the past three to five years, it’s really exploded in demand. So we’re trying to think of what else can we put this on.”

McMillian believes the increase demand for the flag swag is making the Wichita flag famous in town and elsewhere.

“Lots of tourist come in and pick up a piece and take it home,” said McMillian. “The Wichita flag is spreading around the country very quickly.”

The City of Wichita released this statement: “Much like the same musical chords being used to craft different songs, symbols are often made up of the same techniques and design elements to create unique meanings.
The Wichita flag is a unique design crafted by Cecil McAlister in 1937. The design represents freedom, happiness, contentment and home. Mr. McAlister at the time stated that his design drew inspiration from a variety of sources, including traditional symbols utilized by Plains Tribes. The flag is not trademarked, meaning it is free for all to use and with which share their Wichita pride.”