It’s Rattlesnake Season

Here’s a shout-out to some of Arizona’s beautiful and fascinating creatures.

Now is the time of year when rattlesnakes are active during daylight hours, enjoying the beautiful sunny spring weather, warming up after a winter of brumation. As the weather gets hotter, they become more active at night. They are experts at camouflage, so watch where you walk, reach when you are in their natural habitat. Keep a close eye on your curious dog as well. It’s a good idea to carry a flashlight at night and keep the volume low on your earbuds so that you might hear the tell-tale sign of their warning rattle.

Living with Rattlesnakes, Arizona Game and Fish Department

The Arizona Game and Fish Department website Living with Rattlesnakes provides help in identifying Arizona’s rattlesnake species. Searching the Arizona State Parks website for ‘rattlesnakes’ gets you information on where you might see them during your explorations.

The State of Arizona Research Library has many resources on rattlesnakes. Those online and on the Arizona Memory Project include advice on how to be safe around venomous reptiles, scientific studies from the Arizona Game & Fish Department, photographs, and publications from the United States Geological Survey on reducing rattlesnake-human conflicts. Our print collection offers books and reports on species of rattlesnakes, ecology and other scientific studies, stories and reminiscences from Arizona history, and federal publications.

April typically an active month for rattlesnakes, Arizona Game and Fish Department

Reading Arizona offers free eBooks and audiobooks. Rattlesnake resources include children’s books, scientific guides, Arizona history, and rattlesnakes as characters in novels!

If you are bitten by a rattlesnake, call 911 or head to the nearest emergency room as soon as possible. Envenomated pets should be immediately transported to the nearest emergency veterinary clinic. Do not bring the rattlesnake with you. Medical personnel do not need the rattlesnake to know how to treat the patient- the same antivenom is used regardless of the rattlesnake species. Do not cut open or suck on the puncture wounds and do not use a tourniquet. All of these are old-wives’ tales that are no longer supported by medical research.

Also, please don’t do this:

The Argus, July 16, 1898

Or this:

The Argus, October 8, 1898, page 4

Arizona Says No to Daylight Saving Time

While most of the rest of the United States observes Daylight Saving Time (DST), Arizona does not. In March, most of the country will “spring forward” and set their clocks one hour earlier. In November, they “fall back” and reset the clocks to an hour later, gaining back the extra hour returning to Standard Time. Meanwhile Arizona stays on standard time all year long, inspiring the refrain: Spring remain, Fall the same. Arizona is in the Mountain Standard Time (MST) zone, also known as Mountain Time. Places in the Mountain Time zone who observe daylight saving time are referred to as Mountain Daylight Time (MDT).

When did this happen, and why?

How did we get here?
Original U.S. Law 40 Stat. 450 & 56 Stat. 9.

The idea of changing clocks to take advantage of more sunlight in the summer months is not new. Congress first adopted a measure in 1918 to extend the workday and conserve fuel needed for war industries during World War I. The same legislation established standard time zones (40 Stat 450 & 56 Stat 9). After the war, the nationwide mandate was repealed but DST continued as a local option. DST was implemented again as “War Time” during World War II. The nationwide mandate was repealed again in 1945. Once again state and local governments could choose to observe it. They had the additional authority to decide when would start and end. By 1966, there was a patchwork of local laws that caused confusion and inefficiencies for radio and TV stations, railways, airlines, and bus companies. And, presumably, anyone who wanted to know what time it was.

In 1966, Congress passed the Uniform Time Act, intended to “promote the adoption and observance of uniform time within the standard time zones”. It implemented a plan to adopt DST. It instructed all Americans to move their clocks forward one hour on the last Sunday of April and back one hour on the last Sunday of October of each year. The law allowed any state to exempt itself from the time changes, provided the exemption applied to the entire state.

15 U.S.C. §§260-64.

Since 1966, standard time has shrunk to about 4 months as Congress has shifted the start of DST earlier and the start of standard time later. Currently, DST starts the second Sunday in March and ends the first Sunday in November.

Photograph of the 28th Arizona State Senate

In 1968, the Arizona Legislature exempted the state from the DST, choosing to remain on standard time throughout the year. Filed that same year was Senate Concurrent Resolution 2 proposing to refer the issue to the voters. Both measures passed the Senate and were transmitted to the House at about the same time. The House opted to proceed by passing a statute. Senate Bill 1 was approved in the Senate by a vote of 25 to 3 (PDF page 972) and in the House of Representatives 49 to 1 (PDF page 782), enough to pass with an emergency clause. It became effective upon the signature of Governor Jack Williams on March 21, 1968. You can read it at Arizona Revised Statutes §1-242. It has never been amended.

Laws 1968, Chapter 183. PDF pages 719-120
Map of Hopi villages and communities in Arizona. From

Not all areas inside the borders of Arizona shun DST. The Navajo Nation lies in northeastern Arizona, northwestern New Mexico, and southeastern Utah. The Navajo Nation is on DST, keeping the entire reservation on the same time. But it’s a little more complicated than that. The Hopi Nation, which is surrounded by Navajo land, is not on DST and therefore is on the same time as most of Arizona. Given that there is also a portion of the Navajo Nation that is surrounded by Hopi land, you may need a map to be able to tell what time it is during DST in northeastern Arizona. 

Why did Arizona oppose DST? To Arizonans living in areas with intense heat, an extra hour of sunlight in the evening is not appealing. It would not spur people to go out and enjoy the longer evening hours that are beloved by Americans in summer-loving climates. In addition, in the Arizona desert observing DST is unlikely to meet the original goal of energy conservation. A few other areas have opted out of DST, including the State of Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, and American Samoa.

Is DST a good idea?
Impact of Extended Daylight Saving Time on National Energy Consumption Report to Congress

The original goal of DST was to shift the clocks forward during the months with the most sunlight to maximize use of natural light and save heating and transportation fuel. It’s not clear that DST meets that goal. Life and energy consumption have changed dramatically since 1966. Now, air conditioning is virtually everywhere, there are multiple TV sets and computers in a typical home, and most people who plan activities to enjoy the “bonus hour” use gasoline to get there. The savings were evaluated by the Department of Energy in a report to Congress in 2005 and by the Congressional Research Service in 2020.

Studies suggest that DST is not good for our health. Time changes disrupt our natural circadian rhythm. When clocks are set ahead in the spring, many people can’t fall asleep at night and feel more groggy in the morning.  This can impair focus and judgment during the time it takes our bodies to adjust, resulting in lost productive time and car accidents. Some studies show a higher risk of heart attack following time changes, especially after the “spring forward” change that starts DST. Some people who suffer from mood disorders may experience an increase in depressive symptoms after the “fall back” change when daylight grows shorter.

And most people detest changing their clocks twice a year. A poll published in the Economist/YouGov in November 2021 found that 63% of respondents want to stay on the same time all year. Other polls found the number to be even higher: nearly 75% would prefer not to change their clocks. Twenty-eight state legislatures considered the issue in 2022. The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) reports that some 450 bills and resolutions have been considered by state legislatures in the last 7 years.

If DST is eliminated, the choice is between permanent DST or permanent standard time. This is a major dispute. The Economist/YouGov poll found that 48% preferred permanent DST, while 29% favored permanent standard time. A different poll showed that 40% of respondents support permanent standard time, with 31% preferring permanent DST. Eighteen states have enacted measures to establish year-round DST as soon as federal law allows it. In general, businesses that benefit from longer business hours, such as retail, restaurants, and outdoor recreation advocate for permanent DST. For instance, longer daylight in the fall, when the days grow shorter, has been a boon for the candy and Halloween industries. The hurdle to this point of view is that states can opt out of DST, but don’t have the authority to set permanent DST without federal approval.

Climate for Phoenix, Arizona

Others recommend permanent standard time. One factor is the health benefit of standard time. More light in the morning, for example, helps many to feel more alert and to maintain a healthful regular bedtime. There is evidence that altering the body’s relationship to the sun can negatively affect sleep, cardiac function, weight, and risk of cancer. Some of the business community agrees. The ski industry, for example, supports standard time year-round because it enables ski activities earlier in the day. Parents have long worried about DST in the fall, when schoolchildren go to school while it is still dark.  And don’t forget us here in Arizona. We Arizonans love our sunshine, but most of us feel we can get too much of a good thing. During the extreme heat of our summers, we don’t want to postpone sunset. Traffic in August is cranky enough already.

Arizona’s Flag

Image of Arizona's state flag

When did Arizona select the distinctive design featuring a base of dark blue under a star with rays shooting upward? What do the colors and symbols mean? It turns out that the basic design dates back to 1911. The design has been the state flag ever since it was adopted in 1917. It has been included in each successive statutory code, exuberantly waving over many generations of Arizonans.

The design
Image of Captain Charles W. Harris of the Arizona National Guard from Arizona Highways, March 1970
Captain Charles W. Harris, Arizona National Guard. Photo from March 1970 Arizona Highways.

In 1910, Colonel Charles Wilfred Harris brought the Arizona National Guard Rifle Team to the National Rifle matches and noticed that Arizona was the only state team that did not have a flag or emblem. (Arizona wasn’t even a state at the time, but still.) From here, the historic accounts differ a little on the details. Most say that Harris designed a flag and that May Hicks sewed the first one. May Hicks later married Frank Curtis, one of the riflemen of the National Guard Rifle Team.

May Hicks Curtis Hill and 2 men holding Arizona flag. With permission, from the Colorado Plateau Digital Collections of the Cline Library at Northern Arizona University.

The other version regarding the origin of the flag relates that Harris teamed up with Carl Hayden to design the flag. At that time Hayden was a well-known local politician. He was elected to Congress in 1911 in anticipation of Arizona statehood, which was celebrated February 14, 1912. Hayden represented Arizona in the House of Representatives and the Senate from 1911 until his retirement in 1968. According to tradition, Hayden’s wife Nan Downing Hayden stitched up the first flag. Nan Downing is sometimes called the “Betsy Ross of Arizona”. Her role in making one of the first Arizona flags was honored in Arizona Senate Concurrent Resolution 1008 (PDF page 1655), passed in 1972 upon the death of United States Senator Carl Hayden. Thus, there were two early prototypes of the flag created in 1911.

Nan. D. Hayden, “The Betsy Ross of Arizona”. Photo from March 1970 Arizona Highways.

The Hayden flag is believed to have burned in a fire at the Adjutant General’s office some years later. The Curtis flag survives and is in the collection of the Arizona Capitol Museum.

From the beginning, the flag included certain features. Blue and gold had long been considered the official colors of Arizona. The red and blue of the flag match the colors of the United States flag. Red and yellow also signify the heritage of the Spanish explorers, who carried the red and yellow Spanish flag in 1540 in their unsuccessful search for the legendary Seven Cities of Gold. In the upper half of the flag are thirteen rays, for the thirteen original colonies of the United States, that represent the setting sun. The star in the center symbolizes Arizona’s copper resources.

1915 legislation

On January 11, 1915, Governor George W.P. Hunt delivered his opening day message (PDF page 77) to the Legislature. He advocated for the adoption of a state flag and flower:


On numerous occasions certain embarrassment, or at least inconvenience, has been entailed upon State Departments and civic organizations by the fact that no State flag has ever been fashioned and duly authorized by the Legislature. In view of the picturesque character of Arizona’s early history, considered in conjunction with the recent marvelous development of the State, the devising of a suitable emblem for use in connection with public functions of various kinds should prove no difficult task. The need, moreover, of a State flower especially designated by legislative enactment, is felt by civic and commercial organizations in a lesser degree than is experienced through the lack of a flag pertaining distinctively to Arizona. It is a certainty that the legislative adoption of a State flag and State flower would meet with the approval of Arizona’s people.

Frances Munds. Photo from the Arizona State Archives on the Arizona Memory Project.

Frances Munds of Yavapai County introduced SB 124 in the Senate to adopt blue and gold as Arizona’s official colors. Rachel Berry of Apache County introduced HB 111 (PDF page 81) in the House with identical language. In the end, HB 111 passed. Frances Munds and Rachel Berry are familiar to students of Arizona history as central figures in securing passage of women’s suffrage. Suffrage had passed as Citizen Initiative 300 in 1912 (PDF page 10).

Rachel Berry. Photo from the Arizona State Archives on the Arizona Memory Project.

Rachel Berry also introduced HB 110 to designate a state flower but the bill did not advance. The Journal did not record what Berry proposed to be the state flower.

From Session laws, State of Arizona, 1915, Second Legislature, Regular Session, First and Second Special Sessions (PDF page 88).

House Bill 68, introduced by Representative William E. Brooks of Gila County, proposed the now-familiar design as the state flag. The progress of the bill in the Legislature was described in the February 6, 1915 issue of the Arizona Gazette:

The speaker would have the lower half of the proposed flag a blue field, while the upper half “shall be divided into thirteen equal segments or rays which shall start at the center, on the lower line, and continue to the edges, yellow and red, consisting of seven yellow and six red rays; in the center of the flag superimposed, a copper colored five pointed star, so placed that the upper point shall be one foot from the top of the flag and the lower points one foot from the bottom of the flag. The red and blue shall be of the same shades as the colors in the flag of the United States; the flag to have a four foot hoist and a six foot fly, with a two foot star; the same proportions to be observed for flags of other sizes. The flag represents the copper star of Arizona rising from a blue field in the face of a setting sun.

The proposal passed the House on an enthusiastic vote of 29 to 2, but not everyone was pleased. The Gazette stated:

The Brooks state flag bill was favorably recommended after a drawing in colors had startled the House. Goodwin thought the speaker had borrowed the design from China or Japan. The flag is guaranteed to stop a limited train. It is in bright reds, yellows and coppers, and will be heard from Atlantic City to Puget Sound.

Subsequently, the flag proposal was held in the Senate and it was dead for the session. You can read more about the proposal in the History of the Arizona State Legislature 1912-1966 (PDF page 47).

Adopted in 1917

The measure returned in 1917 in the Regular Session. Representative Edwards of Yuma County introduced HB 2:

From Session laws, State of Arizona, 1917, Third Legislature, Regular Session (PDF page 31).

J. Morris Richards, author of the History of the Arizona State Legislature, tells the story (PDF pages 69-70). The bill failed in the House Education committee but still advanced to the floor and cleared the Committee of the Whole. The bill was progressing when the local paper weighed in. On the front page, the Arizona Republican sniffed:

Arizona Republican, January 27, 1917.

This writer had to look up a word in the headline. “Solon” was an Athenian statesman. It also refers to a “wise lawgiver”. The objection that the flag was too similar to Japan’s flag depicting the rising sun was raised again during World War II, but in 1917 the Arizona Republican’s prediction came true. The bill became law with minor amendments but without the signature of Governor Campbell. Laws 1917, Chapter 7 (PDF page 31).

The Arizona Constitution specifies a process that is the opposite of the federal “pocket veto”. In Arizona, if a Governor does not sign a bill or return it to the Legislature with a veto message within five days during session or ten days after adjournment of session, it becomes law (Arizona Constitution, Art. 5, Section 7).

The Senate Journal reported:

From Journal of the Senate, State of Arizona, 1917, Third Legislature, Regular Session (PDF page 354).

At least he was nice about it. Arizona had a state flag.

Later statutes retain state flag provision

The state flag provision was included when the Legislature adopted the new 1928 Revised Code of Arizona.

From The Revised code of Arizona, 1928 (PDF page 153).

In 1939, the provision was included in the new Arizona Code:

From the Arizona code, 1939 : containing the General laws of Arizona, annotated (PDF page 347).

The Arizona Revised Statutes were first compiled in 1956. The state flag provision appeared at §41-791. In 1972, the Legislature renumbered the provision as §41-857. The Legislature reorganized the statutes again the following year in Laws 1973, Chapter 157, creating Article 5 and grouping together state emblems including the flag, the state bird, the state tree, and others. The state flag statute was renumbered as §41-851.

More flag laws

The 1973 measure also adopted §41-852 which directed that the state flag be displayed with the U.S flag at the state capitol and other state buildings and at county and municipal buildings as determined by local governments. The statute was later amended to provide for flying the flag at half-staff to honor elected officials at their deaths (Laws 1986, Chapter 165). A later amendment required displaying the flag, along with the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights, in each hearing room of the state Senate and House of Representatives (Laws 3006, Chapter 381).

A.R.S. §13-3703 governs “abuse of venerated objects”. It is illegal to use the flag for advertisement. It specifically prohibits “casting contempt upon, mutilating, defacing, defiling, burning, trampling or otherwise dishonoring or causing to bring dishonor upon a flag”. The law was added by Laws 1977, Chapter 142, §100 as a part of an extensive reorganization of the Arizona criminal code. Despite its expansive language, there are no Arizona court cases that interpret it.

The Arizona flag today

After more than a century of flying the flag, Arizonans and others seem to have disregarded the disapproval of early critics of the design. In fact, people seem to like it because of its easily recognized graphics and bold colors. Vexillology is the study of flags. The North American Vexillological Association, the world’s largest organization of flag enthusiasts and scholars, promotes the study of the history, symbolism, usage of flags, and flag design. Their 2001 survey ranked the Arizona state flag as one of the 10 best designs for state flags (PDF page 6).

For more information

Arizona Highways, March 1970, “Flags over Arizona”.

Image of May Hicks Curtis Hill draped in Arizona Flag. From the Colorado Plateau Digital Collections at Cline Library, Northern Arizona University.

More details on Rachel Berry.

More details on Frances Munds.

More on the State of Arizona Flag from the Arizona Office of the Secretary of State.

North American Vexillogical Association