Black Hills Knowledge Netowork

On February 20th, 1892, the Western South Dakota Stock Growers Association held its first meeting in Rapid City at the Harney Hotel. Thirteen men attended the gathering, including the association’s first president and mayor of Rapid City, James M. Woods. The organization would go on to become the present-day South Dakota Stockgrower’s Association.

James M. Woods served as Rapid City’s seventh mayor and was in office from 1890-1894. Woods moved to the Rapid City area in 1883 and purchased tracts of land along Elk Creek. Shortly after moving into the region, he formed the Woods, White and Woods Cattle Company with his brother, W.S. Woods, who was the president of the National Bank of Commerce in Kansas City, Missouri. The company came to be valued at one million dollars and over 20,000 head of cattle by 1885.

Woods also had a passion for horses, and was instrumental in organizing the first horse roundup in 1887 at Brennan Station. By 1891, Woods had acquired a ranch in Rapid Valley along Rapid Creek. On April 26th of that year, the Black Hills Horse Breeders Association was organized and Woods was elected as its president.

Although Woods was instrumental in the formation of the Western South Dakota Stock Growers Association, he served as its president for just 70 days—from its inaugural meeting on February 20th 1892 to April 21, 1892.

A list of past presidents for the South Dakota Stockgrower’s Association can be found on the association’s website. Learn more about James M. Woods and other past mayors of Rapid City on the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s website.

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On February 10, 1890, President Benjamin Harrison issued a proclamation affirming the March 2, 1889 Act passed by the United States Congress which reduced the Great Sioux Reservation by 9.2 million acres. The president’s affirmation also created the boundaries of the Cheyenne River, Crow Creek, Lower Brule, Pine Ridge, Rosebud and Standing Rock reservations.

The creation of the aforementioned reservations followed two additional and substantial land transactions. A Congressional Act passed on February 28, 1877 diminished the Great Sioux Reservation—which was established through the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty—from its original 60 million acres to approximately 22 million acres. In the passage of 30 years, the Lakota and Dakota tribes retained only 18.3% of the lands allocated to them through treaties and Acts of of Congress. Approximately 9 million acres outside of the reservation boundaries were then opened up for public purchase and homesteading.

In addition to noting the boundaries of each of the newly established reservations, President Harrison’s proclamation issued a warning to individuals who planned to settle upon the reservation lands. Individuals were also warned against “interfering with the occupancy” by tribal members on tribal lands. However, the proclamation did not prescribe any consequences for individuals who chose to violate these provisions.

Lakota and Dakota people have long disputed how the federal government opened treaty land to settlement, especially in the Black Hills region. The earliest cases against the government were brought up in the 1920s and continued until 1980, when the issue bubbled up to the U.S. Supreme Court. In United States vs. Sioux Nation of Indians, the Court ruled that the government had not adequately compensated the Lakota people in exchange for the land it had taken. The Court offered the value of the land in 1877 as well as 5% interest each year thereafter. A full return of the land instead of a monetary settlement was not offered.

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On February 9th, 1992, while driving to the South Dakota Miss Basketball banquet to accept an award, SuAnne Big Crow perished in a car accident. Big Crow, who hailed from the Pine Ridge Reservation, was known as a remarkable basketball player as well as her advocacy for Lakota history and culture.

Big Crow’s advocacy and sportsmanship were not forgotten, either. Seven years following Big Crow’s untimely death, President Bill Clinton visited the Pine Ridge Reservation. Following his visit, President Clinton called both Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Andrew Cuomo to discuss the creation of a youth center in Pine Ridge.

In August 2000, the youth center became a reality with the dedication of the SuAnne Big Crow Youth Wellness and Opportunity Center, a Boys and Girls Club of America. The building aimed to meet the dreams of SuAnne Big Crow by providing area youth with a drug- and alcohol-free environment.

While the facility is no longer a member of the Boys and Girls Club, it remains committed to serving youth in Pine Ridge. In 2016, the facility offered health-related services to adults on a fee basis, including water aerobics courses.

In addition to the facility bearing her name, Big Crow was inducted into the South Dakota Hall of Fame on March 25, 2017.

To read more about the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s community profile.

Published in Home
Wednesday, 31 January 2018 15:28

Rapid City Indian School Lands

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.

 

Published in Civic Life & History

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.

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During the 2016 legislative session, Harold Frazier, Chairman of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, delivered the first State of the Tribes address. The address was delivered before a joint session of the South Dakota Legislature and provided a review of key issues impacting the nine tribal nations that share South Dakota’s geography.

In his address, Chairman Frazier spoke of many timely topics, including Medicaid expansion and infrastructure in Indian Country, including county roadways which weave through tribal lands. Frazier also spoke of the number of suicides on reservations in South Dakota, as well as efforts the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe was taking to address the methamphetamine epidemic within its borders—namely banishing members who are convicted of dealing, making or trafficking the drug.

The State of the Tribes Address is a tradition that has continued throughout the remainder of Governor Dennis Daugaard’s Administration. In 2017, Chairman Robert Flying Hawk, of the Yankton Sioux Tribe, delivered the address. Just last week, Chairman Boyd Gorneau of the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe provided remarks before the South Dakota Legislature.

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With President Theodore Roosevelt’s signature, Wind Cave became the nation’s eighth national park. It was also the first national park established to protected a cave.

Wind Cave is sacred to many indigenous tribes in the region, including the Lakota people who deem Wind Cave as their place of creation. The Lakota people believe they are descendants of the Buffalo Nation who emerged from the cave. The first individual to emerge from the cave learned the traditional Lakota way of life and returned into the cave to tell his nation about  the surface of the earth. Once everyone emerged, they found they were unable to return to the cave and so they began life anew and established the Seven Council Fires.

While several mining claims occurred at Wind Cave, one of the most noteworthy was made by the South Dakota Mining Company. In 1890, J.D. MacDonald set out to explore the cave in hopes of mining it, but his efforts were unsuccessful. However, MacDonald was not without vision for the cave. He recognized the ability to provide tours of the cave and selling pieces of formations from it.

After filing a homesteading claim for the land, the MacDonald family devoted his time to creating a larger entrance to the cave while his son Alvin, explored the cave, mapping his explorations in a diary. By January of 1891, Alvin MacDonald had abandoned his efforts to find the end of Wind Cave.

In 1893, the MacDonalds joined forces with John Stabler and formed the Wonderful Wind Cave Company. Following the untimely death of Alvin MacDonald, however, the relationship between the MacDonalds and Stablers soured. When their concerns reached the Department of Interior, the agency ruled that since no actual mining had occurred in land held by a mining claim, neither party had a claim to the land. Taking the land out of homesteading status allowed for it to be placed into the protection of the federal government ten years later.

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On January 3, 1961, Ben Reifel became the first Lakota man to serve in the United States House of Representatives. As a congressman, Reifel was a strong advocate for education, veterans affairs, and the humanities. Reifel was the first American Indian to serve South Dakota in Congress.

Although Reifel did not complete the 8th grade until he was sixteen years old, he was able to attain degrees in both chemistry and dairy science from South Dakota State University. During his undergraduate career, Reifel had joined the Army Reserves and later served in World War II. Reifel went on to earn both his master’s and doctoral degree from Harvard University after the war. He was one of the first American Indians to earn a doctoral degree.

After working for the Bureau of Indian Affairs in the Pine Ridge Reservation, Reifel ran for U.S. Congress as a Republican. Reifel won his first campaign and went on to serve five terms. As a congressman, Reifel advocated for education in tribal communities, and advocated for combining county and tribal schools so that both Native and non-Native students could learn together.

Reifel returned to the Bureau of Indian Affairs to work following his last term in Congress. Reifel died at the age of 83 in Sioux Falls, following a battle with cancer. Shortly after his death and to honor Reifel’s legacy, Congress renamed the Cedar Pass Visitor Center to the Ben Reifel Visitor Center. Additionally, Governor Dennis Daugaard declared September 19 as Ben Reifel Day in South Dakota in 2017.

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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.

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On December 14, 1935, the Oglala Sioux Tribe narrowly accepted an Indian Reorganization Act (IRA) constitution, followingly various lengthy discussions. The Oglala and Rosebud Sioux Tribes passed IRA constitutions that were similar in content, although their political district boundaries varied.

Passage of the IRA constitutions was strongly encouraged by the Office of Indian Affairs, which had not previously been heavily involved in the creation of or revisions to tribal constitutions.  Previously, the Office of Indian Affairs chose not to insert itself into tribal governance decisions, believing instead that revisions were better made by tribal community members and not outside governmental forces.

The adoption of the IRA constitution was not the first form of constitutional governance approved by the Oglala Sioux Tribe. Having a keen knowledge of constitutional governance, the Tribe adopted its first written constitution in 1921.  Drafters the first constitution hoped the new form of governance would encourage political participation among tribal members. When completed, James H. Red Cloud submitted the document to reservation agent Henry Tidwell, who thought Red Cloud and his supporters were “troublesome, unprogressive old men.” Tidwell did not approve the constitution, as its terms fell outside of the philosophy of the Office of Indian Affairs.

A new constitution—which later became known as the Committee of 21—was adopted after Superintendent Jermark noted that the council meetings under the first constitution were called sporadically and believed tribal members to be disillusioned with the document. After the new constitution was written, Indian Affairs Commissioner John Burke revised the governing document to include a provision to allow the reservation superintendent to call special meetings of the tribal council. The constitution was later overwhelmingly rejected by tribal members and council delegates in favor of the first constitution which had been written by the tribe without external involvement.

Efforts are currently underway to reform the Oglala Sioux Tribal constitution. Read more about this process on the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s online news archive.

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On December 1, 1945, Rapid City businessman Paul Bellamy traveled to London to lobby the United Nations preparatory committee to select the Black Hills as the organization’s world headquarters.If chosen, the international body’s headquarters would have been located in the valley that now holds Reptile Gardens.

Bellamy met with numerous foreign representatives to convince them that Rapid City and the Black Hills would be the best choice for the new UN Headquarters, touting the region as a region as a “tavern-free, prostitute-free, and tax-free” location without “big city problems.” Bellamy also noted the region’s central location within the United States as well as its abundance of building stone. Thanks to Bellamy’s efforts, Rapid City was one of five finalist locations in the United States.  

Of course, in the end, the Black Hills were ultimately not the chosen location. The Rockerfeller family won out the bid and donated a parcel of land in New York City, which is the location of the UN headquarters today.

June 16 was later named United Nations and Reptile Gardens Location Remembrance Day by Rapid City Mayor Sam Kookier, commemorating Rapid City’s near-successful bid for the United Nations’ Headquarters in the 1940s, according to the Rapid City Journal.

Read more about Bellamy's United Nations' site bid on the Black Hills Knowledge Network historical archives

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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.

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On November 9, 1992, South Dakota officially dropped its monicker as “The Sunshine State” and became known as “The Mount Rushmore State.” As chronicled by the Black Hills Pioneer, then State Representative Chuck Mateer of Belle Fourche introduced legislation in January of 1992 to change the state’s nickname. Opponents of the legislation including then State Representative Mary Edelen of Vermillion argued that it would make non-residents believe South Dakota to be  “frozen tundra.”

South Dakota had several nicknames prior to being dubbed both “The Sunshine State” and “The Mount Rushmore State.” Perhaps the state’s earliest nickname was the “Coyote State,”  which is believed to have been inspired by a horse race rather than the wild animal. In 1863, a solider from the 6th Iowa Cavalry and another from Company A of the Dakota Cavalry raced horses at Fort Randall. The Iowa soldier’s horse lost by a long shot, which cause an onlooker to remark “that the Dakota horse ran like a coyote,” thus inspiring the state’s nickname.

About 30 years later, South Dakota acquired a new nickname during a drought. The state’s first governor, Arthur C. Mellette, had embarked on a trip to Chicago in search of aid for his state when he ran into a newspaperman and personal friend, Moses P. Handy. Handy asked the governor how his state was faring, to which Mellette replied “Oh, South Dakota is a swinged cat, better than she looks.” Accounts of the incident indicated that Mellette meant “singed” or “burnt” when he said “swinged.” Shortly thereafter, the Chicago Inter Ocean newspaper published a story citing Mellette “governor of the swinged cat state.”

Additional historical nicknames assigned to South Dakota can be viewed on the South Dakota Historical Society Foundation’s website.

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On October 26, 1918, a man was arrested and brought to trial for spitting in public in Rapid City. According to the Rapid City Daily Journal, the anti-spitting ordinance was established in order to prevent further spread of the disease “through the filthy and careless habits of some thoughtless people who persist in expectorating on the floors in public places and on the sidewalks.” The typical fine for the offense was $6, or $92 in 2017 inflation adjusted dollars.

Rapid City Mayor William E. Robinson instructed law enforcement officials to strictly enforce the ordinance in order to prevent further spreading of the Spanish Flu. A physician himself, Robinson attended to numerous patients at all hours during the flu pandemic. However, the mayor’s grueling work schedule and exposure to the deadly disease threw him into a state of exhaustion. He died on December 2, 1918, while still serving as mayor.

In 1918, the number one cause of death in South Dakota was influenza. Lawrence County suffered the greatest number of casualties, with 145 flu-related deaths. Statewide, the disease claimed 1,847 lives—28 percent of the total number of deaths in the state that year. By comparison, in 1917 influenza was No. 20 for causes of death in the state, claiming just 54 lives.

You can learn more about Mayor William Robinson on the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s Mayoral History Page.

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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. 

Additional Links and Resources

Published in Issues Hub

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.

Published in Home

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.

You can watch Mills’ winning moment on the Running Strong website. To learn more about the Pine Ridge Reservation, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s community profile.

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The Deadwood City Commission is looking to supplement the Historic Preservation Revolving Loan Fund, reports the Black Hills Pioneer. The commission approved the first reading of a supplemental budget ordinance in the amount of $331,000. The program has received 20 applications for historic preservation grants so far this year as well as an increase in program support in recent years, sparking the need for additional funds.

To date, historic preservation programs have expended $898,000—an amount over the originally budgeted $867,000. Year-end expenditures are currently projected at approximately $1.2 million.

To read more news from Deadwood, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s community profile.

Published in News

At the urging of longtime Native Sun News editor Tim Giago, Governor George Mickelson proclaimed 1990 as the Year of Reconciliation to honor of the 100th anniversary of Wounded Knee. The Year of Reconciliation was intended to health the relationships between the state and tribal governments in South Dakota.

However, that was not the only challenge Giago posed to Governor Mickelson. Giago also requested that Governor Mickelson take up an effort to nix Columbus Day in South Dakota in favor of Native Americans’ Day. With a strong lobbying effort, the South Dakota Legislature was swayed to rename the day.

On October 8, 1990 Mickelson invited Giago to celebrate the Year of Reconciliation at the Crazy Horse Memorial. The event also commemorated the first Native Americans’ Day, which would be held later that week. South Dakota was the first state in the nation to rename Columbus Day in favor of celebrating the rich histories and cultures of American Indians.

Today, several states and municipalities have chosen to rename Columbus Day, with the most recent additions including the state of Vermont as well as Phoenix, Arizona and Denver, Colorado. Meanwhile, the states of Alaska and Hawaii have never officially celebrated Columbus Day. Alaska officially adopted an Indigenous Peoples Day in 2015, while Hawaii has celebrated Discoverer’s Day, in remembrance of the Polynesian explorers who originally settled on the islands.

Published in Home

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.

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