Ciancas and the Butte-Silver Bow flag

Bob Cianca, his mother Mary Ann Cianca, and his daughter Christina Cianca-Butori hold the flag that the late Don Cianca designed in 1989. Commissioners formally adopted it as the Butte-Silver Bow flag Wednesday night.

If a Butte-Silver Bow flag that’s been around for years was never official before, it is now.

After Bob Cianca told commissioners about his late father, Don Cianca, his love for Butte and how he’d designed a flag in its honor three decades ago, the council formally adopted it Wednesday night.

It has been hanging in council chambers for several years now, and the chief executive’s office as well, but numerous current and former county officials couldn’t recall its origins last week and research hasn’t turned up any official action on it by local government here.

Turns out that Don Cianca designed it in 1989 and won a community-wide contest sponsored by the Butte-Silver Bow Chamber of Commerce. Cianca died in 2004 but it meant enough to him and his family, it was mentioned in his obituary.

As Bob Cianca told commissioners Wednesday night, it still means a lot.

“It was pretty important to him and it was pretty important to the family,” he said, with his mother, Mary Ann Cianca, and his daughter, Christina Cianca-Butori, watching from the audience. “We felt it made a contribution.”

The council felt that way too, and after Commissioner Michele Shea suggested it be formally adopted and fly with the U.S. and Montana flags outside the Butte-Silver Bow Courthouse from now on, they voted 12-0 to make it official.

After a Sunday story about that flag and a newly proposed contest to have one designed and “officially” adopted, readers of The Montana Standard and Bob Cianca came forward with word on how the existing one came to be.

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He told commissioners his father had moved from Chicago to Butte in 1969 for business reasons and fell in love with the place and its people.

Like Chicago, Butte was full of people from different ethnicities living close to one another. They identified with their own cultures, Bob Cianca said, but in Butte — perhaps more so than Chicago — they identified with their city.

“Wherever you were from, first and foremost you were Butte,” he said. “That impressed my dad.”

His father loved Butte so much, he passed on a later opportunity to move back to Chicago. 

Council Chairman John Morgan said the existing flag had been in council chambers for a long time but it seemed as if nobody knew where it came from.

“Now we know where this flag behind me came from,” he said. “It has been a pretty cool story to follow.”

Shea supported the new idea for a new flag contest, but that was before the story of the existing one came to light over the last few days. The thing to do now, she suggested, was honor the Cianca family and make their flag official.

After commissioners agreed to that, with smiles and then applause, Shea darted after the Cianca family in the courthouse hall and hugged each one of them.

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Government and politics reporter

Mike Smith is a reporter at the Montana Standard with an emphasis on government and politics.

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