On April 12, 1892, the Meade County Commission passed a resolution that halted its wolf bounty. Prior to this date, individuals would receive $3 for each wolf scalp they presented to county officials. The resolution cited financial hardship as the primary reason for discontinuing the bounty as “there was no money in the General Fund to pay the same, and that Legislature not providing any means by which a tax could be levied to pay the bounty on wolf scalps.”
While today’s commission no longer handles wolf bounties, it still manages issues including liquor licenses, road maintenance and tax concerns. However, unlike their predecessors, today’s commission also considers energy issues, international pipelines, and additional planning and zoning issues.
Meade County was formed by a seceding group of eastern Lawrence County and Sturgis residents in 1889. The newly established Meade County was named after the nearby cavalry post, Fort Meade, which was named after General George C. Meade. General Meade was a union commander during the Civil War.
Meade County was fairly small in its early years as it comprised just the southern area of the current county boundaries. Ten years after it was established, the county annexed two counties to its north—Scobey and Delano. Today the county encompasses more than two million acres.
To learn more about the history of Meade County, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network's community profile.
For the last several years, a group of local researchers have been examining the history of the Rapid City Indian School and the surrounding property. For a full overview of their preliminary findings, including a history of the Rapid City Indian School, please see document attached below, entitled "An Inconvenient Truth: The History Behind the Sioux San Lands and West Rapid City," which ran in the Rapid City Journal in the spring of 2017. Over the next several months, the researchers will be uploading their documents to the BHKN. The first batch appears below.
From its earliest days, Hot Springs was known for the warm, healing springs meandering through the town. However, Hot Springs was not always known as Hot Springs. Prior to its current name, the town was known as “Minnekahta,” which is the Lakota word for “warm water.”
On January 31, 1883, the town was officially named Hot Springs and the name Minnekahta abandoned. The late 1800s was a time of many changes for the Southern Hills town, including a dispute concerning whether or not it would become the county seat for Fall River. Nearby Oelrichs was also determined to be in the running. However, after a vote was held and fraud charges leveled, Hot Springs ultimately won the title.
Choosing a location for the county courthouse in Hot Springs proved to be even more of a challenge. At the time of the designation as county seat, Hot Springs was just three-quarters of a mile long and divided between upper town, where many of the resort-like spas were located, and lower town, where many of the common businesses were located. Some argued that the courthouse could not be located in upper town, as it was technically located outside of city limits.
Ultimately, local entrepreneur Fred Evans donated a plot of land in upper town and won a $23,000 bid to construct the courthouse there. Although the building was completed in 1891, employees were not authorized to work in the building for nearly two years due to pending litigation concerning the building’s location.
To learn more about the history of Hot Springs, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s community profile.
On December 21, 1981 Bear Butte, located east of Sturgis, South Dakota, was designated as a National Historic Landmark. Bear Butte is one of just over 2,500 National Historic Landmarks across the nation. National Historic Landmarks must be “historic places that possess exceptional value in commemorating or illustrating the history of the United States” and may be buildings, sites, structures objects or districts.
Known as Mato Paha by Lakota people—and as Noahvose by Cheyenne people—the butte is not a butte by definition but is instead the remnant of ancient volcanic activity. Bear Butte sits 1,200 feet above the land that surrounds it, at a total of 4,426 feet above sea level. The result of a volcano that failed to fully erupt, the land feature is also a place of deep significance to a variety of indigenous peoples from the region. The Cheyenne spiritual leader Sweet Medicine is said to have received the basis of Cheyenne spiritual and moral customs on Bear Butte, while Lakota and Dakota people have held various ceremonies there.
By the end of World War II, homesteader Ezra Bovee was the legal landowner of Bear Butte. Early in 1945, Northern Cheyenne individuals requested to hold a ceremony at Bear Butte to pray for the war’s end. Bouvee welcomed their presence and became a steadfast supporter or preserving the butte. Bouvee went so far as to spark interest in making the butte a national park. While the federal government did not show interest in creating a national park, the South Dakota legislature set the area aside as a state park in 1961. Four years later, the butte was designated as National Landmark.
As part of its effort to highlight small and mid-sized museums across the United States, the National Endowment for the Humanities recently honored the Woksape Tipi Archives at Oglala Lakota College in Kyle, South Dakota. As reported by KOTA News, the archives host a variety of cultural and historical materials pertinent to the Northern Plains region.
The Woksape Tipi collection is accessible to community members as well as college students. Individuals interested in the collection can view a variety of materials including administrative records of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, artifacts, manuscripts, microforms and more.
To learn more about the Woksape Tipi Archives, visit the Oglala Lakota College Library’s website. For more information on the Pine Ridge Reservation, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s community profile.
Against all odds, a 78-foot-high Black Hills spruce tree arrived in Washington D.C. on November 28, 1970 to serve as the White House Christmas tree during the Richard Nixon administration. The tree was decorated with blue, yellow and green bulbs and featured a wire, tear-drop-shapped top ornament.
On its way to Washington, the tree had more than its fair share of difficulties. Not only did the train transporting the tree derail twice, but the tree had also been toppled over by gusting winds just days before the tree lighting ceremony. Several new branches were attached to the tree in order to fill out the gaps left by the damaged branches.
The tree’s troubles did not end once it reached the White House, however. Electrical sockets connected to the lights on the tree had been coated with liquid fireproofing spray, which caused the lower bulbs on the tree to explode.
The White House has put up a Christmas Tree since 1889. The First Christmas tree was placed in the Yellow Oval Room by the Benjamin Harrison administration. During Herbert Hoover’s presidency, First Lady Lou Henry Hoover started the custom of placing the “official” Christmas Tree in the Blue Room. Spruce trees have been the most popular White House Christmas trees, with a total of 48 used in Blue Room since 1961.
Sioux San – Rapid City Indian Health Service (IHS) Facility
The Indian Health Service (IHS) is a federal health program for American Indians and Alaska Natives.
IHS is an agency that operates within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The United States Constitution, along with numerous treaties between the United States federal government and sovereign American Indian tribal nations established a trust responsibility that requires the government to provide certain services to Native Americans. Healthcare is one of the services included in the United States’ trust responsibility.
Previously, American Indian healthcare was overseen by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) as provided in the Snyder Act of 1921. Seven years later, the BIA began contracting healthcare services through the Public Health Service and continued to do so for approximately 30 years thereafter. In 1955, Congress removed Native American health services from the Department of Interior and placed it under the Department of Health and Human Services. With this placement, the Indian Health Service came into fruition. Today, IHS provides health services for approximate 2.2 million people within 567 recognized tribes in 36 states.
Rapid City, South Dakota is part of the Great Plains Area of IHS. This area includes South Dakota, North Dakota, Iowa, and Nebraska. The Great Plains Area currently includes seven hospitals, eight health centers, and additional smaller clinics. Seventeen Tribes share the same geography as these states. Approximately 130,000 individuals receive care in the Great Plains Area of IHS.
Rapid City Boarding School/Sioux Sanitarium/Rapid City IHS Timeline
|1898||Rapid City Indian School was created for acculturation for Native American children from South Dakota, North Dakota, Wyoming, and Montana. They required them to speak English at the school.|
|1929 - 1930||1930 - The school had a large number of students with tuberculosis and became a Sanitarium School for those students.|
|1933||The Civil Conservation Corp used the facility for a federally funded work relief program.|
|1939||The location became the Sioux Sanitarium for tuberculosis for Native Americans.|
|1943||The antibiotic for TB was discovered.|
|1955||The Indian Health Service (IHS) took administrative jurisdiction over Sioux San.|
|1966||Congress appropriated funds for the pilot IHS Clinic in Rapid City.|
|2001||Indian Health Board of the Black Hills created to address issues of care for those eligible.|
|2002||Indian Health Board of the Black Hills brings forward issues of patient care.|
|2003||A $4 million dollar renovation is started and expected to be complete in 2005. It includes more lab and x-ray space as well as additional handicapped-accessible restrooms, and more exam rooms.|
|2004||Aberdeen Area Office proposes closing the Sioux San inpatient services.|
|2004||IHS users bring their unrest about available funding and services to a budget session with local administrators.|
|2006||IHS officials sign program justification document to begin a federal process that will help build a replacement facility.|
|2007||IHS officials propose an expansion that will be complete in 2012 under the best circumstances which are unlikely.|
|2009||Sioux San Hospital cancelled all appointments to prevent a further H1N1 outbreak.|
|2010||Sioux San Hospital’s Hope Lodge caught on fire and destroyed the substance-abuse center because there was no extinguisher system available.|
|2016||IHS investigates quality of care concerns regarding Sioux San Hospital.|
|2017||IHS announces Sioux San will close Sioux San inpatient and emergency services to make way for a new hospital to be completed by 2022.|
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After nearly three years of work by a variety of groups, Sheridan Lake and its dam were officially dedicated for use by the public on October 20, 1940. Approximately 5,000 people attended the dedication ceremony.
Like nearby Pactola Lake, Sheridan was also flooded to become a lake after the fall of mining in the area. Once known as “The Golden City,” Sheridan was established in 1875 alongside the rush for gold. Numerous miners resided in Sheridan, which boasted several saloons, storefronts and churches. Sheridan was even the county seat for Pennington County for three years from 1875-1878. However, mining in the town eventually subsided as prospectors moved their endeavors toward Deadwood and Lead. By 1920, there were only ten residents of Sheridan.
Construction on the Sheridan Dam began on August 15, 1938 and was completed on November 1, 1940. Congressmen Theodore B. Werner and Francis Case helped draw media attention to the project between 1936 and 1937. Much of the construction of the dam was completed by the Civilian Conservation Corps and the WOrks Progress Administration.
Sheridan Lake was constructed to cover approximately 380 acres with seven miles of shoreline and an average depth of 35 feet. The dam itself is 126 feet high and 850 feet wide.
Fifty-two years ago, Billy Mills charged across a rain-soaked track and set a new record pace for the Olympic 10,000 meter race in Tokyo, Japan. Not only did Mills set a new record, but he also became the first American to win gold for the race, and still holds the title today.
Billy Mills was born in 1936 in Pine Ridge, South Dakota. Orphaned at a young age, Mills frequently recalls advice given to him by his late father, who told Mills he could “rise from broken wings and one day fly like an eagle.” Mills discovered his running ability in high school and was determined that the Olympic games are where he would soar.
Some credits Mills’ win to the heavy, soddened track. The 1964 Olympics was the last before all terrain tracks were utilized. A period of heavy rain had muddied the track, disabling many runners who were accustomed to ideal running conditions. During the final stretch of his race, Mills also made the decision to run on the outermost lane, which was not as sodden as the rest of the track.
Mills ran the 10K race in 28 minutes and 24 seconds, outpacing the previous record by over seven seconds. Only four other Americans have ranked highly in the 10,000 meter race: Max Truex who placed 6th in 1960, Frank Shorter who placed 5th in 1972 and Galen Rupp who placed 2nd in 2012.
On October 1, 1889, the South Dakota State Constitution was adopted alongside the approval of the state seal. However, the state seal had been in existence since 1885 when the first drafting of the state constitution occurred.
Dr. Joseph Ward, founder of Yankton College, chaired the Seal and Coat of Arms Committee during the Constitutional Convention of 1885. Dr. Ward and his committee penned the original description of the seal, which at the time was still a “Dakota” seal, as North and South Dakota had not yet achieved statehood.
Several changes from the original 1885 seal to the present seal were adopted during the Constitutional Convention of 1889, which was held in Sioux Falls. The original seal called for “pictures of mining work” which was changed to “other features of mining work.” And most importantly, the phrase “State of Dakota” in the 1885 seal was changed to “State of South Dakota” in 1889.
A standardized color version of the state seal was not adopted until 1986. Mitchell Artist Richard Coop Richard Coop designed the official seal in magic marker, which is now the basis for all reproductions of the seal. Coop’s version was later revised by John Moisan of Fort Pierre.
In 2016, Moisan penned a letter in which he recalled viewing the official state seal in a vault in the South Dakota Secretary of State’s office. However, having been designed in magic marker, the colors on the seal had since faded and were no longer distinguishable. When Moisan brought the issue to the attention of then-Governor Janklow, Janklow instructed him to paint a new state seal, which later hung behind the governor’s desk.
A full description of the state seal can be found in Article 21 of the South Dakota Constitution. The full contents of Moisan’s letter regarding his recollection of his work on the seal is available on the South Dakota Secretary of State’s website.
On August 30th, 1936 Franklin D. Roosevelt attended the dedication ceremony for the head Thomas Jefferson’s at Mount Rushmore. According to South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Roosevelt was already in the region touring regions that were devastated by the drought of the 1930s.
Roosevelt regarded his visit to the monument as an informal affair, as he didn’t view the natural setting as an appropriate venue for pomp and circumstance. During his succinct remarks, Roosevelt spoke of the monument’s tenacity and asked attendants to “meditate and wonder what our descendants...will think of us.” He hoped that future generations would reflect kindly on previous generations and take note of their hard work and labor in preserving American soil.
The completion of the Jefferson sculpture marked the monument’s second complete face. George Washington’s sculpture was finished six years prior to Jefferson’s. Originally, Jefferson was to be located to Washington’s left, but sculptors found the stone there too weak and relocated Jefferson to Washington’s right. Lincoln’s likeness was completed shortly after Jefferson in 1937. Teddy Roosevelt was the last to be completed in 1939.
View more photos of Mount Rushmore on the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s digital archives.
On August 11, 1952 a commemorative stamp of Mount Rushmore was released by the United States Postal Service in commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the creation of the monument. The first stamp of Mount Rushmore (pictured above) is based on a photo taken by Robert Frankenfeld, the father of Rapid City businessman Don Frankenfeld, according to the Congressional Record on June 3, 1991. The stamp was valued at three cents.
Mount Rushmore has been featured on postage stamps on four occasions: in 1974 on a 26-cent stamp, on the monument’s 50th anniversary in 1991 on a 29-cent stamp, and in 2008, on a priority stamp valued at $4.80.
Prior to the creation of commemorative stamps, postage designs were limited to U.S. Presidents and founding fathers. Commemorative stamps were first issued in 1893. The USPS Citizen’s Stamp Advisory Committee is tasked with selecting commemorative stamps each year. Although they use twelve basic selection criteria as a guide, the postmaster general has the final say in selecting commemorative stamps.
View more historical information about Mount Rushmore at the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s digital history archives.
The history and land tenure of a portion of West Rapid City formerly belonging to the Rapid City Indian Boarding School, is currently under evaluation by researchers and government officials. As reported by KOTA News, William Bear Shield, Chairman of the Sioux San Unified Health Board, has stated that the Regional Behavioral Health Center, Clarkson Mountain View Health Facility, and the Canyon Lake Senior Center, in West Rapid City are in violation of a 1948 federal law outlining to whom and for what purposes the land could be used.
The boarding school closed in 1933 and later became as a sanitarium for Native American tuberculosis patients. After the tuberculosis epidemic had ended, Congress appropriated funds for the facility to be used as a health clinic for Native American patients in 1966.
Under the terms of the 1948 act that broke up the boarding's school's 1,200 acres, the land could be made available to the city of Rapid City, the South Dakota National Guard, the Rapid City School District, to be sold for use by religious institutions, or slated for use by "needy Indians." Bear Shield believes that Behavior Health, Clarkson, and the Senior Center to not fit these terms and, per the 1948 act, should revert to federal ownership. The Bureau of Indian Affairs agrees with Bear Shield and recently issued a letter declaring its support for a mutually beneficial solution.
Learn more about the Rapid City Indian Boarding School lands at the Mniluzahan Okolakiciyapi Ambassadors (MOA) website. Past stories on Native American issues are linked in the Black Hills Knowledge Network's online news archive.
Last Wednesday, Freemasons celebrated the placement of a new marker and interpretive panel at Mt. Moriah Cemetery in Deadwood that provides information on the Celestial Lodge found in the Masonic section of the cemetery. The Black Hills Pioneer reports that high-ranking South Dakota Masons from the Grand Lodge of South Dakota, including Grand Master of the Masons of South Dakota Mike Rodman, conducted a rededication ceremony alongside members of the Deadwood Historic Preservation Commission, who created the signs.
The panel reads that the tiler, pillars, altar, and Worshipful Master embodies the physical representation of a Celestial Lodge, which is only one of two of its kind found in the United States. The ceremony consisted of Masons marching around the lodge and pouring corn, wine, and oil upon the monument, which Rodman claims has been performed for hundreds of years. This year marks 300 years of modern-day Freemasonry.
Forty-five years ago on June 9, 1972, torrential rains caused the Canyon Lake Dam to fail and sent water rushing through Rapid CIty. More than ten inches of rainfall over six hours had caused Rapid Creek and several other streams to overflow their banks. The water swept trees, buildings, automobiles and other debris away in its path.
The flood claimed 238 lives and caused over $160 million in property damage. Following the flood, the city constructed a 12-mile-long bike path and public greenway as both a memorial to those who were lost in the flood as well as a mechanism to ensure that a similar tragedy would not occur in the future.
The Black Hills Knowledge Network hosts a variety of historical items concerning the flood, including photos, government documents, news reports, and more on the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s Digital Archives. Then Rapid City Public LIbrary also has a variety of resources on the flood, including written and oral histories, photographs, news broadcasts, and the Robb DeWall Collection. DeWall was a broadcast journalist, historian and the Emergency Broadcasting System broadcaster during the initial hours of the 1972 flood.
Learn more about the 1972 Rapid City and Black Hills Flood on the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s Issue Hub.
In May 1900, the Homestake Mine produced $185,000 worth of gold ore every fifteen days, according to The Sumpter Miner. In order to maximize production at the mine, a new cyanide plant would soon be installed and was expected to double the mine’s production. At the time, the mine was “600 feet wide and over a mile long” and employed approximately 1,500 men.
The Homestake Mine was first discovered by Fred and Moses Manuel, and Alex Engh and Hank Harney in 1877. It was later purchased by another trio of men—George Hearst, Lloyd Tevis and James Ben Ali Haggin. Hearst took control of the property late in 1877 and hauled in much of the equipment by wagon.
The mine operated until 2001 with the exception of a brief closure from 1943 to 1945 due to World War II. The closure came as a result of low gold prices.
At the time of its closure, the mine reached 8,000 feet deep and produced nearly 40 million ounces of gold. Following its mining days, the mine was sought after for its underground structures for researching neutrinos. The mine is now known as the Sanford Lab, after philanthropist T. Denny Sanford who contributed $70 million toward the project.
On May 2, 1943, Republican presidential candidate Wendell Willkie gave an impassioned speech at the Mount Rushmore National Memorial. Willkie spoke critically of individuals with a “get mine” attitude concerning U.S. involvement in World War II, as reported by the New York Times. Willkie probed the crowd: “Do you allow the annoyance of a truculent and everspreading bureaucracy to deflect you from your own duty? Do you permit the resentment of some in high places to legitimate criticism to embitter you into sloth and inaction?”
Three years prior to his speech below Mount Rushmore, Willkie ran against Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1940 presidential election. A former Democrat who registered as a Republican shortly before the nomination, Willkie was an outsider to the GOP pool of presidential candidates. Republican Party leadership favored three other leading candidates: Senators Robert A. Taft of Ohio and Arthur Vandenberg of Michigan as well as Manhattan District Attorney Thomas E. Dewey.
At the Republican Convention, Willkie drew broad support from the public, but much of the Republican Party cast an eye of doubt upon him and instead favored the more conventional candidates. While Dewey had anticipated winning enough votes for the nomination on the first ballot, he fell several votes short. As additional ballots were cast, Dewey’s margin continued to narrow while Willkie’s widened. In the fifth ballot, Willkie secured 429 total votes and went on to cinch the nomination in the sixth and final ballot.
While Willkie gained broad support in a number of hours at the convention, he was by no means as successful in the general election. Ultimately, Willkie received just 22 million votes to Roosevelt’s 27 million—and only 82 Electoral College votes to Roosevelt’s 449. Roosevelt had successfully secured an unprecedented third term in office.
Willkie made another presidential bid in 1944., but would not live to see the election. Willkie died in October 1944 of coronary thrombosis at the age of 52.
On April 29 1868, the second Treaty of Fort Laramie was signed by several bands of Lakota and Dakota leaders. The treaty provided for “absolute and undisturbed use and occupation” of the land west of the Missouri River, including the Black Hills, for the tribal signatories. While Article Twelve of the treaty requires vote of three-quarters of the male Lakota population could terminate the treaty, its terms were violated just a few years thereafter.
White settlers largely stayed out of the treaty lands until 1874, as chronicled by Smithsonian Magazine. Following the Custer Expedition’s discovery of gold in the Black Hills that year, an onslaught of miners and settlers flooded into the area, in violation of the terms of the treaty and upsetting the rightful owners of the land.
Pressure to open the Black Hills to white settlers built upon President Ulysses Grant, who began to search for ways to annex the area. When Lakota leaders visited Washington D.C. to contest inadequate rations from the government, the President replied that the rations had only been continued as the government still favored the Lakota people, but could indeed be halted at any time.
Miners and settlers continued to infiltrate the Black Hills, and calls for annexation of the region increased. Although the U.S. Military still adhered to the treaty and violated many miners, Brig. Gen. George Crook advised miners to take note of their claims for documentation should the land be opened for settlement.
By November 1875, after meeting with military and civilian officials, President Grant withdrew military efforts to prevent miners from entering the Black Hills, yet made no policy change regarding the ownership of the hills. While the incoming miners were still in the Black Hills territory illegally, the military was instructed to turn a blind eye to their occupation. From that point onward, the Grant Administration described the Lakota bands in the Black Hills as “hostile,” in order to facilitate placing blame upon the Lakota people in the event of future skirmishes.
Long-forgotten advertisements, or ghost murals, painted on Deadwood’s historic buildings will soon be eligible for historic preservation funds, according to the Black Hills Pioneer. The first project to be tackled is the painted “Champion Spark Plug” sign on the Celebrity Hotel. While the current sign has approximately 15 percent of the original artwork, the goal of the restoration will bring the sign to 50-60 percent of its original condition.
The Deadwood Historic Preservation Commission will provide 80 percent of the restoration costs, while the owner of the building would be responsible for the remaining 20 percent, under the grant conditions. A covenant will also be established to protect the restored murals.
On April 19th, 1893, over a hundred Lakota men, women and children, including many notable figures such as Red Cloud, Kicking Bear, and Short Bull, arrived in Chicago to participate in Wild Bill’s Wild West Show which was to be showcased during that year’s World’s Fair. The Lakota performers would spend nearly six months in Chicago captivating spectators from around the world.
Much like the modern-day Olympic games, the World’s Fair was a grand spectacle that gave countries an opportunity to showcase its wonders and grandeur to the rest of the world. In 1893, Chicago was chosen to host this grand amusement. The 1893 Fair celebrated the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s voyage to the New World and was thus dubbed the World’s Columbian Exposition. However, the six hundred acre fairgrounds would host attractions from a myriad of nations including Germany, Japan, Syria, and Egypt, drawing in millions of visitors. With such a grandiose event attracting so many, William “Buffalo Bill” Cody saw this as the perfect opportunity to present his Wild West Show, which had just returned from a successful tour of Europe.
After presenting the idea to the fair’s committee, they informed him that he would have to relinquish 50 percent of all money received in admissions as a concessions tariff. Cody refused this outrageous cost and instead decided to spite the committee by leasing plots of land directly adjacent to the fairgrounds so that fairgoers would have an easy stroll to the Wild West Show. This was not the only thorn Buffalo Bill put in the Fair’s side, however. Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show opened a month before the Fair opened its doors and would also give the poor children of the city a free admission day to enjoy the show as well as all the candy and ice cream they desired.
The show lasted for six months until closing just days before the fair. When all was said and done, the Lakota performers loaded their belongings and boarded a train headed west for home. While the fair itself turned out to be only a minor success for the city of Chicago, Buffalo Bill walked away with the profits from one of his most successful shows.