South Dakota State Flag
South Dakota State Seal
South Dakota Location
Dakota is a state in the high plains of the northern Middle West
in the United States. It is
named after the Lakota (Sioux) American Indian tribe. South
Dakota was admitted to the Union on November 2, 1889. North
Dakota was admitted on the same day.
Dakota is bordered to the north by North
Dakota, to the south by Nebraska,
to the east by Iowa and
Minnesota, and to the west
by Wyoming and Montana.
It is one of the six states of the Frontier Strip.
USS South Dakota
was named in honor of this state.
The state is divided
into 66 counties.
- % water
199,905 km² (17th)
- Total (2000)
3.84 /km² (46th)
November 2, 1889
Mountain: UTC-7/-6 (western)
98°28'33"W to 104°3'W
Mount Rushmore State
Human beings have
lived in what is today South
Dakota for at least several thousand years. French and other European
explorers in the 1700s encountered a variety of groups including the
Omaha and Arikara (Ree), but by the early 1800s the Sioux (Dakota, Lakota,
and Nakota) were dominant.
In 1743, the LaVerendrye
brothers buried a plate near the modern capital Pierre
(Pronounced "peer") claiming the region for France as part
of greater Louisiana.
In 1803, the United
States purchased territorial occupation, plundering, and settling
rights of Louisiana from
Napoleon, though the native peoples inhabiting most of this area could
hardly have been aware of such a transaction.
In 1817, a Euro-American
fur trading post was set up at present-day Fort Pierre, and this was
the beginning of continuous Euro-American settlement of the area.
Through much of
the 19th Century, exploratory expeditions such as those of Lewis and
Clark and Joseph Nicollet coincided with an increasing presence of the
U.S. Army. In 1855, the U.S. Army bought Fort Pierre but abandoned it
the following year in favor of Fort Randall to the south.
was, by this time, increasing rapidly, and in 1858 the Yankton Dakota
Sioux resigned to signing the 1858 Treaty, ceding most of present-day
eastern South Dakota to the United
States. Of this, Yankton leader Strike-the-Ree said "The white
men are coming like maggots. It is useless to resist them.... Many of
our brave warriors would be killed, our women and children left in sorrow,
and still we would not stop them."
founded two of eastern South Dakota's largest present-day cities, Sioux
Falls and Yankton,
in 1856 and 1859, respectively, and in 1861, Dakota Territory was recognized
by the United States government (this initially included North
Dakota, South Dakota,
and parts of Montana and
Wyoming, but later only
North Dakota and South
from Scandinavia, Germany, Ireland, and Russia, as well as elsewhere
in Europe and from the eastern U.S. states, increased from a trickle
to a flood, especially after the completion of an eastern railway link
to the territorial capital of Yankton in
1872, and the discovery of gold in the Black Hills in 1874 during a
military expedition led by George A. Custer. This expedition took place
despite the fact that all of Dakota Territory west of the Missouri River
(along with much of Nebraska, Montana,
and Wyoming) had been granted to the Sioux by the
Treaty of 1868 as part of the Great Sioux Nation. The Sioux declined
to sell mining rights or land in the Black Hills, and war broke out
after the U.S. failed to stop white miners and settlers from entering
the region. Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse were major resistance leaders,
but with greater numbers and superior weaponry, and with the sharp decline
in numbers of the buffalo (a major food source of the Sioux), the Euro-Americans
were unstoppable. Indeed, between 1878 and 1886, the Euro-American settler
population of eastern Dakota Territory tripled.
The last major incident
in this struggle occurred on December 29, 1890 at Wounded Knee Creek
in present-day western South Dakota when U.S. soldiers massacred about
200 unarmed Sioux men, women and children. Just over a year earlier,
on November 2, 1889, Dakota Territory had become the modern states of
North Dakota and South
Dakota after a dispute between Euro-American settlers in northern
and southern regions over the location of the state capital (originally
surreptitiously moved to the present-day capital of North
Law and Government
Dakota politics are generally dominated by the Republican Party
and the state has not supported a Democratic presidential candidate
since 1964. In 2004, George W. Bush won the state's 3 electoral votes
by the overwhelming margin of 22 percentage points with 59.9% of the
vote. There are only five reliably Democratic counties in the state,
most of them with primarily American Indian populations. Republicans
have won the last seven gubernatorial elections and have controlled
the legislature, with one brief interruption, for over thirty years.
Democrats have been successful in winning election to Congress from
South Dakota, most notably
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, as of 2004,
South Dakota's population was 770,883.
population of South Dakota
grew from 696,004 people in 1990 to 770,883 in 2004, a 10.8% growth.
makeup of the state is:
8.3% Native American (Third highest in the Continental U.S.)
1.3% Mixed race
The five largest ancestry groups in South
Dakota are: German (40.7%), Norwegian (15.3%), Irish (10.4%),
Native American (8.3%), English (7.1%).
are the largest ancestry group in most parts of the state, especially
in the east, although there are also large Scandinavian populations
in some counties. American Indians, largely Sioux, are predominant
in several counties.
6.8% of South
Dakota's population were reported as under 5, 26.8% under 18,
and 14.3% were 65 or older. Females made up approximately 50.4%
of the population.
income for a household in the state is $35,282. The per capita
income for the state is $17,562. 13.2% of the population is below
the poverty line.
Dakota, in common with five other Midwest states (Nebraska,
North Dakota and Iowa),
is feeling the brunt of falling populations. 89% of the total
number of cities in those states have fewer than 3000 people;
hundreds have fewer than than 1000. Between 1996 and 2004 almost
half a million people, nearly half with college degrees, left
the six states. "Rural flight" as it is called has led
to offers of free land and tax breaks as enticements to newcomers.
affiliations of the people of South
Protestant – 65%
Lutheran – 28%
Methodist – 13%
Presbyterian – 4%
Baptist – 4%
United Church of Christ – 2%
Pentecostal – 2%
Other Protestant or general Protestant – 12%
Roman Catholic – 25%
Other Christian – 1%
Other Religions – 1%
Non-Religious – 8%
Important Cities and Towns
Colleges and Universities
- Augustana College
-- Sioux Falls
- Black Hills
- Dakota State
- Dakota Wesleyan
- Huron University
- Mount Marty
- National American
Northern State University
- Oglala Lakota
- Sinte Gleska
- South Dakota
School of Mines and Technology
- South Dakota
- University of
- University of
- Yankton College
State bird: Ring-necked
State flower: Pasque flower
State tree: Black Hills Spruce
State nicknames: Mount Rushmore State
State slogan: "Great Faces. Great Places."
State mineral: Rose quartz
State insect: Honey bee - Apis Mellifera L.
State animal: Coyote
State soil: Houdek
State fish: Walleye
State gemstone: Fairburn agate
State dessert: Kuchen
State drink: Milk
State bread: Native American fry bread
State grass: Western Wheatgrass
A bill for statehood
for North and South
Dakota (and Montana,
and Washington) was passed
on February 22, 1889 during the Administration of Grover Cleveland.
It was left to his successor Benjamin Harrison to sign proclamations
formally admitting North
and South Dakota to the
Union on November 2, 1889. However, the rivalry between the northern
and southern territories presented a dilemma: only one, upon the President's
signature on the proclamation, could gain the distinction of being admitted
before the other. So Harrison directed his Secretary of State James
Blaine to shuffle the papers and obscure from him which he was signing
first, and the priority went unrecorded.
Harney Peak, in the Black
Hills, is the highest point between the Rocky Mountains and the French
Alps. More than 70,000 people hike to its 7,242 foot summit each year.
The ashes of Dr. Valentine McGillycuddy, the first white man to climb
Harney Peak, are sealed in a crypt at the top of the mountain.
The deepest mine
in the United States, the Homestake
gold mine (now defunct), is in the Black Hills of South
Dakota, near the town of Lead.
Its shaft plunges more than 8,000 feet beneath the surface. From 1969
until 1993, it was home to the Homestake Chlorine Solar Neutrino Experiment,
famous for detecting the solar neutrino problem. Currently there is
pending legislation that would give the mine to the National Science
Foundation for use as an underground research laboratory.
Dakota is home to the largest indoor, naturally heated, swimming
pool in the world. Evans Plunge, heated from natural mineral springs,
is in Hot Springs.
The Black Hills
of South Dakota was one
of the sites considered for the permanent home of the United Nations.
The largest and
most complete fossil of Tyrannosaurus rex ever found was uncovered near
the city of Faith, in 1990. Named "Sue,"
the remains are over 90 percent complete.
itself as a South Dakota bank in 1981 to take advantage of a new law
that set South Dakota's maximum permissible interest rate on loans to
25 percent, then the highest in the nation (New York
had refused to raise its interest rate even after prolonged lobbying).
However, South Dakota's dreams of becoming a major financial center
were dashed when Delaware matched its move the next
year, and banks in search of the right to charge high interest rates
flocked to Delaware instead.
The 1990 movie Dances
With Wolves, starring Kevin Costner as Lt. John Dunbar, was shot entirely
in South Dakota.
South Dakota license plates
are numbered by county, with the first digit referring to the county
of origin. Such a numbering system allows one to easily determine where
the vehicle was registered. Counties 1-10 are ranked, roughly, by population.
11-67 are numbered alphabetically.
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