South Dakota, state in the north central United States. South Dakota is generally regarded as partly but not wholly in the Midwest. The east, with its flat or rolling lands and fertile soils, resembles portions of other states in the Midwest. However, the western section lies on the Great Plains. The state is mainly an agricultural region. Farmland covers much of the fertile areas east of the Missouri River, which divides the state, and vast stretches of rangeland extend westward from its banks. Manufacturing and commercial activities are based in large part on the output of agricultural produce.
Farming is central to South Dakota’s way of life, but in the late 1990s tourism, gambling, and other recreational services were of increasing importance to its economy; visitors are attracted by unique natural features such as the Black Hills and Badlands. Pierre is South Dakota’s capital. Sioux Falls is the largest city.
The name Dakota is derived from a Sioux term meaning friends or allies. It was first applied to a United States territory in 1861. When South Dakota entered the Union on November 2, 1889, as the 40th state, its people chose to keep the name. South Dakota is called the Mount Rushmore State, after the national memorial of that name located in its southwest corner.
South Dakota ranks 17th in size among the states. It covers 199,732 sq km (77,117 sq mi), including 3,191 sq km (1,232 sq mi) of inland water. The state’s extreme dimensions are about 395 km (about 245 mi) from north to south and about 610 km (about 380 mi) from east to west. The mean elevation is 670 m (2,200 ft).
Portions of two major natural regions of the western United States cover South Dakota: the Central Lowland and the Great Plains. In South Dakota, the Great Plains cover the western and central sections of the state and include the Black Hills. The Central Lowland covers the eastern part of the state. The boundary between these two natural regions follows the eastern edge of the glaciated sections of the Missouri Plateau, a belt of low hills, known as the Coteau du Missouri, that extends in a north to south direction across South Dakota about midway between the Missouri and the James rivers.
The Central Lowlands in South Dakota, like adjoining sections of Iowa and Minnesota, were covered by extensive ice sheets during the course of the last Ice Age, which ended about 10,000 years ago. Its present physical features are the result of repeated glaciation during the Ice Age and the subsequent changes produced by wind and water erosion.
The Central Lowlands comprise the eastern one-third of South Dakota, and are made up of seven subregions. In the northeastern corner is the Minnesota River-Red River Lowland, a broad shallow river valley, once part of the great glacial Lake Agassiz. This subregion contains lakes Traverse and Big Stone, and at 294 m (966 ft), has the lowest elevation in the state. The Coteau des Prairies, also on the eastern state border, is a massive highland area drained by the Big Sioux River and covered with glacial drift. West of the coteau is the James River Lowland, a broad area carved by ancient streams, then glaciated and now drained by the James River. The James is the longest nonnavigable river in North America. At the northern end of the lowland is a subregion known as the Lake Dakota Plain. This plain was once the bed of ancient glacial Lake Dakota. At the southern end of the lowlands is the James River Highlands, a group of three ridges of drift-covered bedrock known as Turkey, James, and Yankton ridges. In the extreme southeastern corner is the Eastern Section of the Southern Plateau. This is a stream-dissected highland made of a thick mantle of loessial (wind blown) soils that extends into neighboring Iowa. Finally, the southern boundary of the Central Lowland province is the southern section of the deeply cut Missouri River Trench, a flat, wide river trench.
The western two-thirds of South Dakota is part of the Great Plains. It is divided into two regions, the Missouri Plateau and the Black Hills. The Missouri Plateau is comprised of six subregions. The easternmost subregion is the Coteau du Missouri. It is located directly west of the James River Lowland. The Coteau du Missouri is an unevenly dissected highland covered with glacial drift, and contains several massive ridges and broad abandoned stream valleys. It marks the western extent of glaciation. West of that subregion is the Missouri River Trench, a narrow, steep river valley now occupied by four large reservoirs. West of the Missouri River are four other Missouri Plateau subregions. From north to south they are: the Northern Plateaus, a series of step-like terraces that rise westward from the Missouri River and are marked by butte formations; the Pierre Hills, an area of smooth rounded hills of Pierre Shale or gumbo soil; the Southern Plateau, a zone of young rocks, mesas, and buttes, where streams have cut deep gorges, and water and wind have carved the famous White River Badlands; and on the extreme south, the Sandhills, a 1,000-sq km (400-sq mi) extension of the Nebraska Sandhills.
The Black Hills are a region that was formed by mountain building forces at the same time the Rocky Mountains were formed. Originally, the Black Hills were three times their present height. The region is comprised of four subregions, three of which encircle a central core. The Great Hogbacks form the outer wall or ring of the Black Hills. It is a residual hogback ridge with steep inside cliffs of sandstone. Inside the Hogbacks lies the Red Valley (or racecourse) a broad open valley that gets its name from the red soil layer, and circles the hills. The next circular subregion is the Limestone Plateau. The Plateau is the highest part of the hills, with deep cut stream canyons, including the beautiful Spearfish Canyon and numerous caves. The core of the Black Hills is comprised of the Central Crystalline Basin. This basin is the heart of the hills. It is a highland area with mountain peaks and gulches, carved from crystalline rock. Harney Peak, reaching an elevation of 2,207 m (7,242 ft) and the state’s highest point, is in this subregion.
|B||Rivers and Lakes|
South Dakota is drained almost entirely by the Missouri River and its tributaries. The only sections that are not lie in the extreme northeast and northwest. The Missouri flows southward and then southeastward across the state, in a deep, wide channel. It forms part of the South Dakota-Nebraska state line. Much of the South Dakota section of the river is now made up of a chain of four reservoirs impounded by large dams. These dams include Fort Randall, Gavins Point, Big Bend, and Oahe dams, built for flood control and to provide water for irrigation and the generation of hydroelectricity. The James River, the Vermillion River, and the Big Sioux River, all in the eastern half of the state, flow southward in roughly parallel courses to join the Missouri. In the western part of the state the Grand, Moreau, Cheyenne, Bad, and White rivers flow generally eastward to join the Missouri.
The largest natural lake in South Dakota is Lake Thompson in the east-central part of the state. Other natural lakes of significant size in South Dakota are lakes Traverse and Big Stone, both in the northeastern corner of the state. Numerous small lakes and sloughs dot the landscape of northeastern South Dakota. The largest lakes are the reservoirs behind dams on the Missouri River, all of which were constructed as part of the Missouri river basin project.
The state as a whole has hot summers and cold winters. The Black Hills are generally cooler and wetter than the surrounding plains area.
Average January temperatures are everywhere less than -4° C (24° F) and decrease to less than -12° C (10° F) in some northern sections. The January temperatures in Sioux Falls range from -16° to -4° C (3° to 24° F). Nightime lows of -29° C (-20° F) occur during most winters. July averages are in the low and middle 20°s C (low and middle 70°s F) throughout most of the state, and are somewhat lower in the Black Hills. The average temperature range in Sioux Falls in July is 17° to 30° C (62° to 86° F).
Average annual precipitation (rainfall and snowfall) increases from roughly west to east, ranging from about 330 mm (about 13 in) in the northwest to about 630 mm (about 25 in) in the southeast. The Black Hills receive an average of between 360 and 610 mm (14 and 24 in) of precipitation a year. However, precipitation varies considerably from year to year, and prolonged droughts can occur, especially in the western and central areas. Fortunately, three-fourths of all precipitation falls as rain during the crop-growing season.
The growing season, or period between the last killing frost in spring and the first killing frost in fall, increases from under 120 days in the northwest to 150 days in the southeast. In the valleys of the Black Hills the growing season totals as little as 101 days. The last killing frost occurs in early May in the south, about three weeks later in the north, and often as late as June in the Black Hills. The first killing frost in fall occurs in August or early September in the Black Hills and at the end of September or in early October elsewhere.
The most productive soils in South Dakota are chernozems (or black earth soils), which cover most of the state east of the Coteau du Missouri. These soils are dark brown to black in color and are rich in humus, or organic matter. Chestnut soils predominate in the rest of South Dakota except for the Black Hills. Less rich in humus than the chernozems, the chestnut soils are characteristically dark brown to dark grayish brown at the surface and grade downward to a light gray or white subsoil at about two feet below the surface. Grazing is the predominant activity on the chestnut soils, especially in areas of deficient rainfall, but good crops of wheat are often obtained in years of greater-than-average rainfall. Less suitable for cultivation are the gray wooded soil of the Black Hills and the immature soils, or lithosols, which cover parts of southwestern and south central South Dakota.
Wooded or forested areas occupy just 3 percent of the state’s total land area. Most of these areas are in the Black Hills National Forest. Ponderosa pine, spruce, aspen, and birch are the principal tree species of the Black Hills area, with ponderosa pine accounting for about 90 percent of the national forest. Elsewhere in the state, cottonwood trees are found along the Missouri and other rivers. A large variety of deciduous and coniferous trees are found in shelter belts throughout the state. Flowering plants found in the lake region of the northeast include the wild rose, buttercup, primrose, pink beard-tongue, blazing star, violet, and yellow violet. In other eastern areas are found the blackeyed Susan and wild orange geranium. On the plateau west of the Missouri grow the gumbo lily, the yucca, and a yellow-blossomed cactus. In the Black Hills are found the iris, wood orchid, bluebell, yellow lady’s slipper, larkspur, prickly poppy, and Mariposa lily.
Wildlife in South Dakota has been greatly reduced as a result of extensive human settlement. The great herds of bison that once roamed the plains are now restricted to preserves and private ranches. One of the largest herds in the world has been preserved in Custer State Park. Populations of coyote, the state animal, declined in the mid-1900s but have grown tremendously in recent years. Elk (wapiti) and white-tailed deer are still to be found in the Black Hills, as are the mountain goat, bighorn sheep, and feral burros. Smaller mammals in the Black Hills include the bobcat (see Lynx), beaver, porcupine, and red squirrel. Antelope, mule deer, white-tailed deer, jackrabbit, coyote, kit fox, raccoon, and prairie dog are common on the plains. Jackrabbit, white-tailed deer, and gopher are found in the prairies of the east.
Among the numerous species of birds found in the state are the western meadowlark, northern flicker, American goldfinch, belted kingfisher, American robin, brown thrasher, redwing blackbird, yellow-headed blackbird, Chinese pheasant, Hungarian partridge (or gray partridge), and Chinese ring-necked pheasant, which is the state bird. Sage grouse, sharp-tailed grouse, prairie chickens, and wild turkeys are found on the prairies and plains, but are most abundant in the Black Hills.
Walleye, northern pike, smallmouth black bass, and other game fish are found in the lakes of the northeast. Walleye and northern pike are also found in the Missouri River reservoirs, along with maintained populations of salmon. Brook, rainbow, and brown trout thrive in the streams of the Black Hills. Catfish are common in the state’s rivers.
The chief state agencies active in pollution control are the departments of natural resources and environmental protection and the air pollution control commission. The impact of irrigation projects is a concern of environmentalists.
In 2006 the state had just 2 hazardous waste site on a national priority list for cleanup due to its severity or proximity to people. Progress was being made in reducing toxic chemical emissions into the environment; in the period 1995–2000 emissions declined by 5 percent.
Since the area’s early settlement in the mid-19th century, South Dakota’s economy has been based on cultivating the fertile soils in the east and ranching on the abundant grazing lands of the west. Mining first became important in the 1870s with the discovery of the Homestake Lode in the Black Hills. Manufacturing has increased in importance, and has diversified from its former dominance by the processing of primary products, such as foodstuffs and lumber. The state is also a national leader in the production of storm doors, computers, scoreboards, and medical products. Tourism, gambling, other service industries, transportation, and commerce also play important parts in the state’s economy. Sioux Falls and Rapid City are the principal trade centers in South Dakota.
South Dakota had a work force of 431,000 in 2006. Of those the largest share, 36 percent, worked in service industries, such as restaurants and data processing. Another 19 percent were employed in wholesale or retail trade; 18 percent in federal, state, or local government, including those serving in the military; 10 percent in manufacturing; 9 percent in farming (including agricultural services) or forestry; 14 percent in finance, insurance, or real estate; 6 percent in construction; 20 percent in transportation or public utilities; and just 0.3 percent in mining. In 2005, 6 percent of South Dakota’s workers were unionized.
Farmland occupied 17.7 million hectares (43.7 million acres), or 91 percent, of the state’s land area in 2005. Crops were grown on 46 percent of the farmland, and range land covers most of the rest. Agricultural activities in South Dakota are not limited to land classified as farmland. Seasonal grazing land in western South Dakota is leased by ranchers from the federal government. Of the total farm income in the state, 50 percent came from the sale of crops in 2004. Livestock products, especially beef cattle, account for the rest. Of the 31,400 farms in the state in 2005, 74 percent had annual sales of more than $10,000, a high ratio relative to most other states.
The principal sources of crop income are soybeans, corn, wheat, hay, sunflower seeds, oats, and sorghum. Corn, hay, soybeans, and wheat occupied similar amounts of acreage in the early 2000s. Corn and soybeans lead all other crops in income generated. Corn is widely grown in the moister eastern and central sections of the state. Nearly all the corn is hybrid corn that has been specially bred to withstand occasional drought conditions. It is used mainly for livestock feed. Soybeans increased dramatically in economic importance during the 1990s, especially in eastern sections of the state. Wheat tends to be the first choice of farmers in areas that are too dry for corn or soybeans. It is the chief crop in the north central areas of the state. It is also sometimes grown in drier areas farther west. Much of the wheat is spring wheat, planted in the spring and harvested in late summer. Hay (including alfalfa and wild hay) is grown throughout much of the state. Most hay is used as livestock feed on the farms where it is grown. Other crops grown in rotation with wheat, soybeans, and corn include oats, flax (for flaxseed), barley, sorghum, and rye.
The sale of livestock accounted for 50 percent of all farm income in 2004. Cattle and calves are the state’s leading agricultural product, typically generating one-third of all farm income in a given year. Some cattle are raised in the west and many more in the eastern and central sections. Hog raising and dairying and poultry farming are also important agricultural activities in the east. Northwestern South Dakota is one of the nation’s leading sheep-raising areas.
|A3||Patterns of Farming|
Too dry and rough for extensive crop farming, western South Dakota is primarily a region of large sheep and cattle ranches. Farther east, ranching is often combined with wheat farming, the wheat crop proving more profitable than ranching in most wet years and the cattle providing an alternate source of income in periods of severe drought. Wheat farming predominates in still more humid areas in north central South Dakota. In central South Dakota irrigated corn has become of some importance. Still farther east, the climate is humid enough to permit a more varied and profitable type of agriculture and corn is a major crop. Together with soybeans, oats, and other crops, it is fed to livestock, which are sold for cash.
The principal minerals produced in South Dakota, in terms of value, are cement, gold, crushed stone, sand and gravel, and lime. In 2003 cement overtook gold as the state’s most valuable mineral commodity. Although it is a low-ranking state in value of total mineral production, South Dakota was long a leader in gold production. Much of the gold produced in the United States came from the Homestake Mine in the Black Hills, which closed in 2001. Much of the state’s gold now comes from open-pit mines. Sand and gravel are produced in almost every county. Granite, quartzite, and limestone are quarried in many of the state’s counties.
The production of foodstuffs long ranked as the principal industrial activity in South Dakota. But by the mid-1990s the manufacture of machinery generated the biggest share of personal income for state residents. Industrial machinery provided two-fifths of South Dakota’s value earned from manufacturing as a whole. Leading machinery industries include manufacturers of computers, office equipment, and machinery used in construction.
The processing of food products remains an important activity. Much of the annual output of foodstuffs is made up of meat and meat products, which are produced in plants in Sioux Falls, Watertown, Huron, Mitchell, and Rapid City. Other food-processing activities in the state include flour milling, baking of breadstuffs, production of dairy products, and poultry dressing and processing. Other industries employing significant numbers of people were companies producing electronics, printers and publishers, lumber mills, firms making storm doors and other metal components for buildings, medical instruments, truck-trailer manufactures, scoreboards, and the jewelry industry.
Hydroelectric power plants generate 47 percent of the state’s electricity. The largest hydropower dams in terms of capacity are those at Gavins Point, Fort Randall, Oahe, and Big Bend on the Missouri River. The remainder of the state’s electricity is generated in thermal plants, mostly fueled by coal. Power is also brought in from utility plants in neighboring states.
In 2005 South Dakota had 135,038 km (83,909 mi) of highways, of which 1,091 km (678 mi) were part of the federal interstate highway system. Principal routes were Interstate 90, which travels east-west through the heart of the state, and Interstate 29, oriented north-south along the state’s eastern border. South Dakota has 7 airports, most of which are private. None of the state’s commercial airports are considered busy by national standards. Sioux Falls has the busiest airport.
Farm products make up 70 percent of the rail tonnage originating in South Dakota. Trains are also heavily used to haul nonmetallic minerals in the state. The state is served by 2,956 km (1,837 mi) of railroad track. Beginning in 1980 the state government bought abandoned private rail lines. This action enabled these lines to continue to provide rail access. Today, Burlington Northern Santa Fe, Union Pacific, and the Dakota Minnesota & Eastern are the principal railroads in the state.
|IV||THE PEOPLE OF SOUTH DAKOTA|
According to the 2007 census, South Dakota ranked 46th among the states, with a population of 796,214. This represented an increase of 8.5 percent over the 1990 figure.
The average population density for the state is only 4 persons per sq km (10.3 per sq mi). This makes South Dakota the second least densely populated state east of the Rockies, greater than only neighboring North Dakota. Most South Dakotans live in the southeast. South Dakota is also one of the least urbanized states. In 2000 only 52 percent of the state’s residents lived in urban areas, and half the state’s population lived within 120 km (75 mi) of the eastern border.
Whites constituted 88.7 percent of the population in 2000. Native Americans, most of whom are of the Dakota (Sioux) people, were 8.3 percent of the population, blacks 0.6 percent, Asians 0.6 percent, and those of mixed heritage or not reporting race 1.8 percent. Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders numbered 261. Hispanics, who may be of any race, were 1.4 percent of the people.
Sioux Falls, located on the Big Sioux River in southeastern South Dakota, is the largest city in the state, with a population (2006) of 142,396. It is primarily a commercial, medical, trade, manufacturing, and transportation center. Rapid City is the second largest city, with 62,167 inhabitants. It is the leading commercial center in western South Dakota, including the Black Hills area. Aberdeen, with 24,071 inhabitants, is the principal commercial center serving the James River area in northeastern South Dakota. Watertown, with 20,526 inhabitants, is a marketing and food-processing center in the eastern half of the state. Brookings, which has a population of 18,802, is noted as the seat of South Dakota State University. Mitchell, with a population of 14,857, and Huron, with a population of 10,909, serve as commercial centers in eastern South Dakota. Pierre, the state capital, has 14,095 inhabitants.
About three-quarters of all the church members in South Dakota belong to Protestant denominations. About two-fifths of the Protestants are Lutherans, and there are many Methodists, Baptists, and Presbyterians. About one-quarter of the church members in South Dakota are Roman Catholics.
|V||EDUCATION AND CULTURAL INSTITUTIONS|
A sod schoolhouse was erected in Bon Homme County in 1860, and the first permanent schoolhouse in the region was built in Vermillion in the winter of 1864-1865. In 1862 the first legislature of the Dakota Territory passed a law establishing a school code. James S. Foster, the first territorial superintendent of public instruction, established a school system in 1864 based on that of New England.
School attendance is compulsory in South Dakota for all children between the ages of 6 and 16. In addition to public schools, there are a number of parochial and other private schools in the state, educating 7 percent of South Dakota’s children.
In the 2002–2003 school year South Dakota spent $7,656 on each student’s education, compared to a national average of $9,299. There were 13.6 students for every teacher (the national average was 15.9 students per teacher). Of those older than 25 years of age in 2006, 88.3 percent had a high school diploma, while the country as a whole averaged 84.1 percent.
The first college established in South Dakota was Yankton College, which was founded by a Congregationalist group in 1881 and until its closure in 1984 was the oldest institution of higher education in the state. There are 14 public and 12 private institutions of higher education. South Dakota State University in Brookings is the largest university in the state. The others include the University of South Dakota, in Vermillion; Dakota State University, in Madison; Black Hills State University, in Spearfish; South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, in Rapid City; and Northern State University, in Aberdeen. Other significant schools include Huron University, in Huron; Augustana College, in Sioux Falls; National American University, in Rapid City; Mount Marty College, in Yankton; and Dakota Wesleyan University, in Mitchell.
There are 125 public library systems in South Dakota. The tax-supported libraries each year circulate an average of 8.4 books per resident. The South Dakota Library Network links college, university, school, public, and special libraries throughout the state. The largest public libraries are in Sioux Falls, Rapid City, and Aberdeen. Major university libraries include those at the University of South Dakota and South Dakota State University. Other major libraries include the South Dakota State Library and the non-circulating collections of the South Dakota State Historical Society.
Among the historical museums in South Dakota are the Dacotah Prairie Museum in Aberdeen, which tells the story of the prairie and its inhabitants; the State Agricultural Heritage Museum at the South Dakota State University in Brookings; and the Adams Museum & House in Deadwood, which recall South Dakota’s early mining days. The Journey Museum in Rapid City combines exhibits on Dakota geology, archaeology, Sioux Indians, pioneers, and native plants. Ice Age fossils are excavated and displayed at the Mammoth Site of Hot Springs.
The W. H. Over Museum, maintained by the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, has an especially fine Sioux and Arikara Indian collection; it also houses exhibits on the state’s natural and cultural history. The university’s National Music Museum has an extensive collection of musical instruments from many cultures and historic periods. The Museum of Geology at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology in Rapid City has exhibits of minerals and gems as well as numerous fossilized skeletons of extinct animals.
There were 9 daily newspapers published in South Dakota in 2002. The first newspaper in the state, the Dakota Democrat, began publication at Sioux Falls in 1859. The oldest existing newspaper in South Dakota is the Yankton Daily Press & Dakotan, founded in 1861 as the weekly Dakotian. The state’s major daily newspapers are the Sioux Falls Argus Leader, which is the largest South Dakota daily in circulation, the Rapid City Journal, the Aberdeen American News, the Watertown Public Opinion, and the Mitchell Daily Republic.
The first radio station in South Dakota, WCAT at Rapid City, began broadcasting in 1922. KELO-TV, the first television station, began operation at Sioux Falls in 1953. In 2002 there were 36 AM and 47 FM radio stations and 19 television stations in South Dakota.
There are several active summer theaters. The famous Black Hills Passion Play is held annually in a natural amphitheater near Spearfish.
|VI||RECREATION AND PLACES OF INTEREST|
South Dakota offers a wide variety of recreational opportunities. The state has many scenic areas. The two major recreational areas are the Black Hills, in the west, and the lakes region, in the east.
The National Park Service administers several units in South Dakota. The best known is Mount Rushmore National Memorial in the Black Hills. Here the faces of four U.S. presidents, each 18 m (60 ft) from forehead to chin, were carved into a granite mountain. Wind Cave National Park, also in the Black Hills, is noted for the delicate formations found in its cavern. A wildlife preserve is above ground. Also in the state are Jewel Cave National Monument, which gets its name from the glittering calcite crystals that line its walls, and Badlands National Park, in which thousands of years of erosion have carved a striking landscape of deep gorges, jagged spires, and grassy plateaus.
|B||National and State Forests|
The two national forest areas in South Dakota cover a combined area of about 815,000 hectares (about 2,013,000 acres). The Black Hills National Forest encompasses all of the area of the Black Hills in the state. The forest has facilities for picnicking, fishing, camping, hiking, and hunting. Custer National Forest, which includes several units in Montana and South Dakota, covers grasslands and rolling pine-covered hills in northwestern South Dakota. The forest also has camping and picnicking sites. The only state forest is De Smet State Forest, in the lake region of east central South Dakota.
Custer State Park, covering 30,000 hectares (73,000 acres) in the Black Hills, is one of the largest state parks in the United States. It includes a rugged, scenic area traversed by Needles Highway, and several beautiful lakes, including Sylvan Lake, that are popular resorts. The park is also a wildlife sanctuary. Also in the west is Bear Butte State Park, named for a noted butte, a remnant of a volcano that holds spiritual significance for many Native American peoples. Oakwood Lakes State Park, in eastern South Dakota, is a forested area once used by Native Americans as a ceremonial ground. Hartford Beach State Park is another wooded park in the lake region of eastern South Dakota. Located on the Big Sioux River in the southeastern comer of the state is Newton Hills State Park. Fort Sisseton State Park, in the northeast, is the site of a well-preserved fort originally built in 1864.
Fort Randall Reservoir, on the Missouri River, offers excellent outdoor recreational opportunities. Also on the Missouri River is Lewis and Clark Lake, at the South Dakota-Nebraska border. Rimming the lake is a beautiful shoreline of wooded slopes and chalkstone cliffs. Angostura Reservoir and Cold Brook Reservoir, both in the Black Hills, provide other recreation areas for winter sports.
|D||Other Places to Visit|
Additional tourist attractions include the Corn Palace in Mitchell, a unique building designed to promote the richness of the state’s agriculture, which is the site of a week-long festival each September. Both the interior and exterior of the building are decorated with murals of multicolored corn that are changed each year. Wall Drug in Wall is internationally famous as the world’s largest drug store and a noted tourist stop. On a hill overlooking Rapid City is Dinosaur Park. Located in an area which abounds in fossils, the park contains huge cement reproductions of dinosaurs. A gigantic sculpture of Crazy Horse, the famous Sioux chief, is being carved in the Black Hills. The project, begun in 1947, is still uncompleted.
Deadwood, located in the Black Hills, was a booming mining town late in the 1880s. The picturesque community is a popular tourist attraction because it maintains a frontier atmosphere, in part by setting aside a percentage of proceeds from recently legalized gambling for historic preservation. Overlooking Deadwood is Mount Moriah Cemetery, which contains the graves of Calamity Jane and Wild Bill Hickok.
The Black Hills Passion Play, which is performed near Spearfish, attracts large audiences each summer. Other popular summer attractions in the Black Hills resort area include a play entitled Trial of Jack McCall, a realistic enactment of the court trial of Jack McCall for the murder of Wild Bill Hickok, which is performed daily in Deadwood. The Brookings Summer Arts Festival held every July is the region’s largest art show.
Various annual activities commemorate events in South Dakota’s frontier past. For example, early in July, the Black Hills Roundup, one of the West’s best known and oldest rodeos, is held at Belle Fourche. Later in the month, Gold Discovery Days pageant is held in Custer. Days of ‘76 Festival, featuring a rodeo and scenes of the gold rush in the Black Hills, is celebrated in Deadwood in the first week of August. In mid-August the famous Sturgis Motorcycle Rally attracts as many as 500,000 people to that city. The Sioux Empire Fair in Sioux Falls also takes place in mid-August. The annual State Fair in Huron begins in late August or early September. The Corn Palace Festival is held in Mitchell around late August and early September.
South Dakota’s present state constitution was adopted in 1889, and has been amended many times. Amendments may be proposed by the state legislature, by initiative, or by a constitutional convention. In order to be adopted, a proposed amendment must be placed on the ballot in a regular state-wide election and then be approved by a majority of the citizens voting on the proposal.
The governor, who is the state’s chief executive, is elected for a four-year term and may serve no more than two terms consecutively. The governor is responsible for the preparation of the state budget and has the power to veto proposed legislation or individual items of appropriations measures. However, the state legislature can override the governor’s vetoes by a two-thirds vote of the legislators elected to membership in each house. The governor also appoints many of the state’s major administrative officials. State government officials other than the governor who are elected are the lieutenant governor, secretary of state, attorney general, treasurer, auditor, and commissioner of school and public lands. All are elected for four-year terms. The lieutenant governor, like the governor, may serve no more than two terms consecutively.
The state legislature of South Dakota consists of a Senate of 35 members and a House of Representatives of 70 members. All state legislators are elected for two-year terms. Regular sessions of the legislature are convened annually in January. Regular sessions are limited to 45 legislative days in odd years and 30 legislative days in even years. The governor may also call special sessions.
South Dakota’s highest court, the Supreme Court, is made up of five judges elected on nonpartisan ballots for eight-year terms. The chief justice is chosen by a majority of the members of the court for four-year renewable terms. The next highest courts are the circuit courts, whose judges are elected on nonpartisan ballots for eight-year terms. Lower courts include county courts and municipal courts.
There are 66 counties in South Dakota. They include the three unorganized counties of Shannon, Todd, and Washabaugh, which are taken up by Native American reservations. The main governing body in each organized county is a board of commissioners, the members of which are elected for four-year terms. Other elected county officers include the auditor, treasurer, register of deeds, states attorney, and sheriff. All are elected for staggered four-year terms.
There are more than 300 municipalities in South Dakota. Most of them have the mayor and council form of government.
South Dakota elects two U.S. senators. The state elects one member to the House of Representatives and casts three electoral votes in Presidential elections.
The first peoples in what is now South Dakota were hunters and gatherers who may have appeared as early as 15,000 to 20,000 years ago. Towards the close of this stage of human habitation, called the Clovis period, the inhabitants of what is now South Dakota foraged for food, made stone weapons, and hunted big game animals, including the mammoth. This way of life gradually ended around 8000 bc as the global climate continued to warm and the population of very large game in the area declined. By about AD 1000 the majority of the inhabitants lived in farming settlements close to river and lake shores. Other inhabitants lived primarily by hunting animals on the prairies and gathering food from plants.
The main peoples encountered by European explorers of present-day South Dakota were the Arikara, and most of them were in the Sioux federation, including Yankton, Yanktonai, and the Lakota Sioux (whom Europeans called the Teton), composed of the Oglala, Brulé (Sicangu), Hunkpapa, Miniconjou, Oohenonpa, Itazipco (Sans Arcs), and Sihasapa; and the Dakotas, also known as the Santee, composed of the Sisseton, Wahpeton, Mdewakanton, and the Wahpekute. Arikaras were farmers who lived in villages of earthen lodges, mainly along the Missouri River. By contrast, the Sioux peoples were seminomadic. At their settlements near Mille Lacs in east central Minnesota, the Lakota gathered food, fished, and farmed, but twice a year they traveled west beyond the Missouri River to hunt animals in the area of present-day South Dakota. The Yankton and Yanktonai hunted mainly in the James River basin, but shared hunting areas with the Lakota west of the Missouri. Sisseton and Wahpeton hunted from the upper Saint Peters (Minnesota) River northwest to the valley of the James River in what is now northeastern South Dakota.
|B||French and Spanish Sovereignty|
French explorers and fur traders were the first Europeans to enter present-day South Dakota. During 1742 and 1743 François and Louis-Joseph de la Vérendrye led an expedition from Manitoba to the confluence of the Bad and Missouri rivers, where they left a marker that was discovered only in 1913. After the creation of the Louisiana Territory (Louisiane, in French) in 1700, France claimed South Dakota as a part of Upper Louisiana until they gave the Louisiana Territory to Spain in 1762, and Spain claimed the territory until they returned it to France in 1800. During the Spanish period, fur trader Pierre Dorion married a Yankton Sioux woman, and sometime in the 1780s became the first permanent European resident of South Dakota. Several traders came up from St. Louis. In 1794 Jean Baptiste Trudeau (also spelled Truteau) built winter quarters along the Fort Randall narrows of the Missouri River, and spent about two years living and trading with various Native American groups. After his return to St. Louis, his journals were widely used as guides by other explorers. North West Company traders arrived from Montréal, and Hudson’s Bay Company traders came down from the north.
In 1803 the United States purchased the Louisiana Territory, including present-day South Dakota, from France. To explore the Louisiana Purchase, as it was called, U.S. President Thomas Jefferson (1801-1809) commissioned Meriwether Lewis and William Clark to map the area. The Lewis and Clark Expedition explored up the Missouri River through South Dakota on their way to the Pacific Ocean. The expedition cataloged plant and animal life, established relations with native inhabitants, and collected information about their culture. Two years later, they again passed through while returning to St. Louis. As federal representatives, they engaged in diplomacy, composed preliminary population estimates for all Sioux peoples, and mentioned the many fur-bearing animals in their reports.
These reports encouraged fur trading as a large-scale activity in South Dakota. Fur traders and fur trading companies built numerous trading posts, or forts, although they also traded at the rendezvous, an annual trade meeting along the James River near Armadale (present-day Mellette, South Dakota). Along the Missouri River in 1812, Louis Bissonette founded a post on Yankton land. In 1817 Joseph La Framboise built another near the mouth of the Bad River. In 1824 the Congress of the United States required native peoples and trappers to trade at specific locations instead of at the rendezvous, which brought the fur trade under the control of managers in larger fur companies. In 1827 Pierre Chouteau, Jr., of St. Louis became manager of regional trade for the American Fur Company. By 1838 he had become the most powerful man in the regional fur commerce, and with a fleet of steamboats and a network of traders, he dominated commercial activities until his death in 1865. It was his name that South Dakotans adopted for their state capital, Pierre (pronounced “peer”). Most of the forts were located along the Missouri River, particularly in the vicinity of present-day Pierre. Some forts later became permanent settlements, and the fur trade flourished well into the 1850s.
In the fur-trade era South Dakota was successively attached to territorial governments in Indiana, Louisiana, Missouri, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Minnesota, and finally Nebraska. As Minnesotans prepared for statehood in the 1850s, two land companies were formed, the Dakota Land Company in Minnesota and the Western Town Company in Iowa, each wanting to secure desirable land in the anticipated Dakota territory. By spring 1857 both companies had built separate communities at the site of present-day Sioux Falls. After Minnesota became a state in 1858, the settlers, though fewer than 50, tried to set up a territorial government, but the federal government refused to recognize it. By early 1861, however, hundreds of settlers had migrated to the region, establishing communities at Vermillion, Yankton, and Bon Homme and occupying farms in the surrounding lands. On March 2, 1861, President James Buchanan signed the act establishing Dakota Territory, which included all of present-day North and South Dakota, as well as large portions of Wyoming and Montana. President Abraham Lincoln (1861-1865) appointed his personal physician, William Jayne, as first territorial governor, and recognized Yankton as the capital. Lincoln’s cousin by marriage, John B. S. Todd, won election as the first territorial delegate to the U.S. Congress.
|E||Relations with Native Americans|
In the second half of the 18th century the Sioux peoples had moved to new hunting grounds in an area that covered most of what is now South Dakota as well as parts of North Dakota, Nebraska, and Montana. In 1823 Lakota, Yanktonai, and Yankton Sioux joined a U.S. attack on the Arikara, and within 10 years had driven them into what is now North Dakota, thus becoming sole owners of some 20 million hectares (50 million acres) within the present boundaries of South Dakota as well as surrounding lands of roughly equal size.
As in other states and with other native peoples, however, a pattern of assault and counterassault developed as white miners and settlers pushed onto Sioux lands after the middle of the 19th century. The Sioux peoples, particularly the Lakota (Oglala and Brulé), resisted the loss of land they considered theirs. The first clash was in 1854 near Fort Laramie, Wyoming. U.S. soldiers killed the Brulé Sioux chief while attempting to arrest a Minneconjou for killing a cow, and 19 U.S. soldiers were killed in return. In retaliation, in 1855 U.S. troops killed as many as 85 Brulé Sioux warriors at their encampment in what is now Nebraska, captured about 70 women and children, and imprisoned their chief. In 1858 Yankton tribal leaders, in a weak position and aware that war with the whites was the only way to stop white immigration, decided instead to sell most of their land east of the Missouri River in what is now South Dakota, retaining a reservation of only 174,021 hectares (430,000 acres). Their treaty opened to white settlement a fertile triangle between the Big Sioux and Missouri rivers comprising 4,514,790 hectares (11,155,890 acres).
In the early 1860s the Oglala Sioux leader Red Cloud fought to keep the U.S. Army from opening the Bozeman Trail, which led to the Montana goldfields through Sioux hunting areas in the Dakota Territory. Between 1866 and 1868 Red Cloud and his allies besieged forts along the trail until in 1868 the U.S. government agreed to abandon it. Red Cloud signed the 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie on April 29, 1869. The U.S. government agreed to close the Bozeman Trail, and in the treaty included a provision that assured Sioux ownership of the Great Sioux Reservation—more than 24 million hectares (60 million acres) west of the Missouri River, most of them in what is now South Dakota. Not all Sioux signed the treaty, although nearly all Lakotas and some Yanktonais lived on the reservation.
|F||Growth of Settlement|
In 1868, following the establishment of the Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming territories, Dakota Territory was reduced to the area of present-day North and South Dakota, as well as a small area later ceded to Nebraska. Through the 1860s white settlement was sparse, but early in the 1870s immigration increased due to the growth of Sioux City, Iowa, and the arrival of a railroad from Sioux City in 1873. Most of the early arrivals were from northern European countries, mainly Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, and Ireland. Eastern Europeans began arriving as early as 1869, when Czechs entered Yankton and Bon Homme counties. The first colony of Hutterites (pacifist followers of the Anabaptist Jakob Hutter) was established in 1874.
|G||The Black Hill Gold Rush|
During the summer of 1874, a military expedition under Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer confirmed that the Black Hills in what is now western South Dakota contained gold. At that time, the Black Hills, as well as all of southern Dakota Territory west of the Missouri River, were part of the Great Sioux Reservation, which had been created under the terms of the Treaty of Fort Laramie. Initially, the federal government attempted to keep eager miners from entering the region, as it was obliged to do under the terms of the treaty. By mid-summer 1875, however, hundreds of miners had evaded military patrols to prospect in the Black Hills. In September federal officials met with Sioux leaders and attempted to buy mining rights, but the U.S. government considered the price too high, and the gold rush began in earnest after negotiations with the Sioux collapsed. In October, the federal government withdrew its military forces from the area, giving tacit permission for gold prospectors to enter, and they came by the thousands. By the spring of 1876, about 15,000 miners had entered the region, and during the next year, the white population of the Black Hills rose to about 25,000. Mining settlements such as Custer and Deadwood were built almost overnight. They were turbulent, lawless communities, attracting such personalities as frontiersman, marksman, and law enforcement officer Wild Bill Hickok and sharpshooter and horsewoman Martha Jane Canary, known as Calamity Jane.
Within a few years after the initial gold rush most of the surface gold had been taken, and underground mining was being carried out by mining companies rather than individuals. Although the region’s population declined, the gold rush laid the basis for permanent settlement of western Dakota.
|H||Warfare with the Sioux|
The flood of miners into the Black Hills also provoked the Sioux and groups of Cheyenne to attack to prevent the loss of their land. Much of the fighting between the U.S. government and the Native Americans, led by the Hunkpapa Sioux Sitting Bull and the Oglala Sioux Crazy Horse, took place outside the area of present-day South Dakota, including the Battle of the Little Bighorn in 1876, in which Sioux and Cheyenne killed Custer and about 260 U.S. soldiers near the Little Bighorn River in what is now Montana. Within the year, however, the Sioux had suffered a series of defeats, and most returned to the reservations to try to live on the food rations and annuities provided by the U.S. government under the Treaty of Fort Laramie. Sitting Bull and his band went to Canada and remained there until 1881, when they returned to surrender at Fort Buford, in northern Dakota Territory.
|I||The Great Dakota Boom|
In the late 1870s railroad construction increased in southern Dakota Territory, strengthening the economy and attracting settlers. In 1880 two east-west lines, the Chicago and North Western Railway and the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad, reached the Missouri River in central South Dakota. By 1880 the population of South Dakota had risen to about 82,000. By the 1890s, a network of 4,000 km (2,500 mi) of rail tracks covered Dakota east of the Missouri and more and more steamboats traveled on the Missouri River. The white population had grown to 348,600 by 1890. Settlers arrived in even larger numbers during the next few years, encouraged by unusually good weather, which led to large harvests. Nearly all of South Dakota east of the Missouri River had been settled by the mid-1880s.
The rapid rise in population came to an end after 1886, when a period of drought began. Many settlers, realizing that they had greatly overestimated the agricultural potential of the region, left South Dakota, especially central South Dakota. The farmers who remained, particularly those in the central region, began to adapt to a climate considerably drier than many of them had anticipated.
A movement to gain statehood for South Dakota had begun in earnest following the Great Dakota Boom in the late 1870s and continued to gain momentum in the early 1880s, when a territorial governor decided for political reasons to move the territorial capital to Bismarck, in northern Dakota Territory, in 1883. The loss of the territorial capital encouraged a campaign to establish a separate state in the south. Because most settlers in Dakota Territory had come from the Republican Midwest, Democrats in the U.S. Congress as well as Democratic President Grover Cleveland blocked attempts to create what they anticipated would be two new Republican states out of Dakota Territory.
In 1888, however, the Republicans gained control of the presidency and of both houses of Congress. On November 2, 1889, South Dakota and North Dakota officially entered the Union together. After a coin toss, North Dakota became the 39th state and South Dakota the 40th. Arthur Calvin Mellette of Watertown was elected as South Dakota’s first governor. Pierre, first chosen as the temporary state capital, was made the permanent capital in 1890.
The Canadian exile of Sitting Bull, who had helped lead the Sioux and Cheyenne against the U.S. Army in 1876 (he returned to a Dakota Territory reservation by 1883), followed by federal efforts to arrange more cordial relations with the Sioux, kept the peace in southern Dakota Territory until 1889. That year U.S. government officials obtained more land from the Sioux for settlement by whites.
In this unsettled atmosphere a new religious movement called the ghost dance spread among the Sioux, promising that the whites would disappear and the buffalo would return. Local white settlers and U.S. Indian agents feared that the movement could be the beginning of a new Native American rebellion, and tried to stamp out the new belief by banning the ghost dance and depriving dancers of annuities due them from the government.
On December 15, 1890, the U.S. government tried to arrest Sitting Bull, now living on the Standing Rock Reservation south of Bismarck, North Dakota, to prevent him from leading a rebellion. As he was being led away from his cabin over the objections of his men, a gunfight erupted during which Sitting Bull and 12 others were killed. Sitting Bull’s followers then fled, some to the camp of Minneconjou Chief Big Foot. The U.S. Army pursued the Sioux and found one group at an encampment near Wounded Knee Creek in South Dakota. On December 29, 1890, during a search of the camp, a shot was fired and the U.S. Army began shooting, killing between 150 and 370 Sioux men, women, and children, most of whom were unarmed. Those who attempted to escape the fighting were pursued and killed.
By fighting, the Sioux peoples managed to preserve a sanctuary for tribal traditions on approximately 10 percent of their prehistoric lands, much greater than the 3.5 percent retained by Great Plains tribes overall. As a result most of the Sioux, who lived in South Dakota, entered the statehood era in a much stronger position than did most other Native Americans in the West.
|L||Early State Politics|
When South Dakota became a state in 1889 there were approximately four Republicans to every Democrat, but discontented Republicans often turned to third parties as vehicles of dissent. Many discontented farmers and ranchers supported the Populist Party, the result of an agrarian movement that began during the economic depression of the 1870s, when farmers’ income declined sharply. Among other reforms, Populists wanted the free (unlimited) coinage of silver and large amounts of paper currency—both measures that would raise prices for farm products and enable farmers to pay off their debts with inflated currency.
In 1896 farmers and ranchers supported the coalition Populist-Democratic candidates for president and governor, Nebraska editor William Jennings Bryan and Andrew E. Lee, respectively. In 1898 Lee was reelected governor, and Republicans, in control of the legislature, joined Lee to enact two prominent elements of the Populist agenda. They established some state control over railroads and, more importantly, made South Dakota the first state in the West to legalize the process of enacting legislation by means of public petition or a popular vote (initiative) and the practice of submitting an issue to the popular vote (referendum).
In general, South Dakotans supported the Republican Party, but they often cast their ballots for Republican candidates who favored government intervention to aid the economy. During the first century of statehood, there were only four Democratic governors and on only three occasions did Democrats have a majority in the state Senate.
|M||Early 20th Century|
In 1887 Congress passed the Dawes Act (General Allotment Act of 1887), a plan to eliminate the communal values of native peoples by parceling out communally owned reservation land to individual Native Americans. After the allotments had been made in what had become the state of South Dakota, the hundreds of thousands of acres remaining were then sold to white immigrants, and before long native peoples began to sell their plots. For Native Americans in South Dakota the policy was a disaster. From the 1880s to 1950, Lakota and Yanktonai tribes alone relinquished 6,321,957 hectares (15,621,343 acres) of their remaining 8,796,497 hectares (21,735,846 acres).
|M2||Indian Reorganization Act|
The passage of the Indian Reorganization Act in 1934 ended the allotment system, and Native Americans were encouraged to organize governments and to adopt constitutions and bylaws, subject to the approval of the U.S. Department of the Interior. The act further provided for the reacquisition of tribal lands and established preferential hiring of Native Americans within the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs. Native American tribes were authorized to set up business corporations for economic development, and a credit program was established to back tribal and individual enterprises. Accordingly, tribal members emerged from the 1930s with the hope of survival as a separate group.
Immigration created great diversity in the population. By 1930 a number of immigrant groups created their own communities, including those from Norway, Germany, Russia, Sweden, Denmark, British Canada, the Netherlands, England and Wales, Czechoslovakia (Bohemians, Slovakians, and Moravians), Ireland, Austria, Finland, Poland, Switzerland, and French Canada. Hutterites, blacks, Jewish immigrants, and Chinese also moved into the state. Lutheran, Catholic, Congregational, Presbyterian, Reformed, Methodist, and Baptist Christians were all represented, as well as Judaism and Asian faiths. The most active years of settlement since the Great Dakota Boom were those between 1900 and 1930, when nonindigenous people took over most of the land west of the Missouri River that was not part of Native American reservations. These groups, added to the peoples on the nine Sioux reservations, made South Dakota as socially diverse and complex as any state in the West.
Immigrants to the state invested heavily in land, livestock, and agricultural equipment, and the state government offered generous loans and other support to farmers and ranchers. South Dakotan farmers prospered during World War I (1914-1918), when prices for agricultural products were high, and invested heavily in new farm equipment and land. Many, however, were unable to pay their debts when prices for farm products declined in the early 1920s. Often they lost ownership of their land but remained on it as tenant farmers. Throughout the 1920s, farmers were forced to increase production to keep ahead of rising living costs. Wheat was planted extensively on marginal cropland and considerable land was overgrazed.
Prices for farm products fell even lower in the Great Depression of the 1930s. In addition, production fell off drastically, as farmers suffered a succession of droughts accompanied by grasshopper plagues. Finally, in 1933 and later years high winds whipped loose, dry topsoil into devastating dust storms known as black blizzards. It became obvious that extensive lands had been overcultivated. Thousands of farmers were forced to abandon their land and leave the state, and the population of South Dakota declined from 629,849 to 589,702 by 1945. The farmers who remained received aid from the domestic relief programs of President Franklin Roosevelt (1933-1945). South Dakota farmers came to depend on public support and, as a result, lost some degree of economic self-sufficiency. Even with federal assistance, recovery was slow. In 1939 agricultural income was less than half what it had been in 1929.
|M5||World War II|
The beginning of World War II in 1939 helped revive both manufacturing and agriculture in South Dakota. Industrial activity increased rapidly, and the availability of industrial jobs drew workers from rural areas into the cities. Factories in South Dakota were not nearly as large as those in more populous states, but a large number of small factories, especially machine shops, made a substantial contribution to the war effort and lifted the economy in South Dakota.
Agriculture also thrived during the war. Increased demand for food products raised prices and the good weather helped dramatically increase farm production. Farmers increased their production of different crops such as flax and soybeans, as well as raising more cattle and poultry. The increased agricultural production was achieved despite a labor shortage caused by the number of industrial-wage jobs that had appeared in urban areas.
|N||Late 20th Century|
|N1||State Fiscal Policy|
A lending spree by state officials after World War I followed by bankruptcies among South Dakota’s farmers and ranchers in the 1920s placed a heavy economic burden on taxpayers that lasted until the 1950s. As a result, South Dakotans have elected economic conservatives to state governmental offices, who have tried to maintain a balanced budget without raising taxes. After experiments with a modest income tax (from 1933 to 1943), and a personal property tax (finally repealed in 1978), state leaders have restricted revenue-raising mainly to taxes on real estate, spending, and licensing. To keep money in the treasury, officials ran some state-owned businesses. In the fiscal year 1992, for example, a state-owned cement plant at Rapid City brought a profit of $7.5 million; four state-owned resorts produced gross receipts of $4 million; and the state treasury received nearly $37 million from a video-lottery system, and in 1995 the lottery raised more than $60 million. As a consequence, early in the 1990s South Dakota had a reputation as being among the most lenient of the 50 states in terms of tax burdens on individuals and corporations.
Like other Western states, South Dakota has increased its dependence on federal resources. Federal contributions to the state grew from approximately 20 percent of the state budget in 1952 to nearly 40 percent by 1994. Most important have been federal funds to build and maintain highways; to support education; to aid senior citizens, dependent children, and handicapped citizens; to improve flood control; to facilitate airport construction; and to improve public health. Based mainly on the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1938, which provided for government price-support payments, subsidies to farmers and ranchers rose sharply from an aggregate of $94.9 million in 1977 to $436 million in 1994.
South Dakota has also benefited from the operation of military bases and other federal agencies. Most prominent since 1940 have been the U.S. Air Force at the Ellsworth Strategic Air Command Base at Rapid City, the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Internal Revenue Service, the National Park Service, the U.S. Forest Service, and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Army Corps of Engineers built four of the six main dams along the Missouri River. These dams have earned a profit for the federal government since 1983 and have stabilized management of the Missouri River and substantially increased tourism to the state.
Federal resources have also been important for building roads in a state that encompasses about 20 million hectares (50 million acres). Beginning with the Federal Highway Act of 1916 and followed by the Federal Highway acts of 1944, 1948, and 1956, federal officials have matched state contributions to construct and maintain state roads. Nevertheless, South Dakota spent millions to put into place a complete road system of more than 130,353 km (81,000 mi) by 1980.
The key to the lasting flow of federal resources has been an able congressional delegation. South Dakotans, while electing fiscal conservatives to state governmental positions, have been steady in their commitment to elect federal politicians who believe in government aid programs. This particular strategy has allowed the state to balance its accounts.
|N3||Demographic and Political Changes|
Since 1940 the long time spent in office by most politicians suggests general satisfaction among voters. A subtle but important change in constituencies began in the early 1960s, when for the first time the population of South Dakota became more urban than rural. Until then, the only woman who had risen to prominence in political life had been Gladys Pyle, who was elected South Dakota secretary of state in 1926 and was a U.S. senator for a brief period from 1938 to 1939. In the 1960s, however, South Dakotans began to elect women not only to state legislative seats, but also to positions of importance in state and local administrations.
Native Americans constitute about 10 percent of the population of South Dakota. The Sioux peoples survived the Great Depression, like others, largely because of federal aid. But in 1953 the United States Congress decided to begin withdrawing all federal support and responsibility for Native American affairs (a policy called termination), arguing that Native Americans should be treated exactly as all other citizens. South Dakota reservation populations dwindled.
In 1970 President Richard M. Nixon officially repudiated termination as a policy. The Indian Self Determination and Education Assistance Act of 1975 authorized the federal employment of tribal governments to take over functions previously performed by the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs. The Indian Freedom of Religion Act of 1978 encouraged the reemergence of Native American cultural traditions.
These developments through the 1960s and 1970s reversed the decline of reservation populations as rapidly as economic resources would allow. For many tribes, gambling casinos supplied an attractive answer. As an example, money generated by the Yankton after it opened the Fort Randall Casino has helped the Yankton begin to build a more diversified economy on the reservation. Native peoples have also taken advantage of federal farming and ranching subsidies, and except for an exclusion from taxation on lands under federal trust, they have paid taxes like all other citizens.
On February 27, 1973, armed supporters of the American Indian Movement, a Native American civil rights group, seized and held Wounded Knee, South Dakota, demanding a U.S. Senate investigation of Native American problems. During an exchange of gunfire with federal law enforcement officers, two Native Americans were killed and several people on both sides were injured. The siege ended 71 days later after the Native Americans were promised that negotiations would be considered, but after one meeting with White House representatives no further meetings took place.
In 1974 the Sioux Nation won a claims suit that awarded them $105 million in compensation for the illegal seizure of the Black Hills. The Supreme Court of the United States upheld the verdict in 1980. The Oglala Sioux then chose to sue the government independently for $11 billion, but the lawsuit was dismissed in 1980 and an appeals court agreed with that decision in 1982. Mainly, the original owners of the Great Sioux Reservation demanded the return of federal land in the Black Hills area as well as the financial settlement, which with interest now approaches $500 million. The nations took the battle for compensation to the U.S. Congress.