Design Your Own Flag

red, white, and blue flag with AMFCo logo
American Fur Company Flag

NPS Photo

The American Fur Company was created and owned by John Jacob Astor starting in 1808. Flags were created to mark the territory of different fur companies. If you saw a flag flying from a post, you would know who owned it based off of the design of the flag. If you saw a green mermaid with a trident, you instantly know that it is the Starbucks logo, right? Or what about the large golden M of McDonald's? These are familiar brands with many, so the American Fur Company flag was the "brand" of the historic period. The red, white, and blue flag, or pennant, was a common sight at American Fur Company trading posts and on company-owned steamboats during the heyday of the Missouri River fur trade. To trappers, traders, and frontiersmen, the flag symbolized corporate dominance on the western frontier.

While Astor owned the company, he was also in partnership with the Chouteau family. A possible explanation for the design of the company flag could be that since the Chouteau family was of French descent, the design has a similar look to the French flag. The colors are also the primary colors of the American flag and could have had an influence. The logo in the center (AMFCo) is the acronym for the American Fur Company. Though no original flags are known to survive, a color-sketch was found in Prince Maximilian of Wied's diary from his North American expedition.

For this activity, we would like to see your design of a flag. If you owned a company and wanted everyone to know that you owned the area, what would it look like?

1. Print template or open in computer program like Paint.

2. Design flag. Use colors and symbols that represent you.

3. Post your flag to our Facebook page.

Alternative Activities

  • Imagine what your flag would look like. Describe it to someone and they can draw it for you and post it to our Facebook page.
  • Imagine what your flag would look like. Post a written description of your flag to our Facebook page.
black and white outline of flag
Flag Outline

NPS Photo

Last updated: June 20, 2020