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South Dakota

Between 2003 and 2012, institutions and individuals in South Dakota received $6 million from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the South Dakota Humanities Council for projects that explore the human endeavor and preserve our cultural heritage.

Below are some examples.

  • The South Dakota State Historical Society assessed, with the help of a $6,000 grant, how to preserve its collection of almost 4,000 oral history recordings documenting decades of ranching, homesteading, farming, wartime experiences, and the Great Depression in the state’s history.
  • The Dakota Discovery Museum’s collection of historical artifacts dates from 1600 and documents the Lakota experience as well as the story of early European settlement. The museum received an $11,000 grant to improve environmental control procedures for some 35,000 objects.
  • The history and the culture of the Northern Plains is the academic, programming, and publications focus of the Center for Western Studies at Augustana College in Sioux Falls. A challenge grant of $300,000 was awarded to the college, resulting in four times as much money in matching gifts from other sources.
  •  The Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Society received a $35,000 grant to help preserve its collections of photographs, clothing, books, furniture, and other historical artifacts relating to the family and town life depicted in the author’s well-known Little House on the Prairie books.
  • The growing Oglala Lakota College, a tribal college in Kyle, received $500,000 in matching funds to endow faculty positions in Lakota Studies and Lakota language for which it had to raise $1.5 million from other sources. 
  • Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane are buried in the City of Deadwood, a National Historic Landmark. But caution was the watchword as the Adams Museum and House in Deadwood received a $5,000 grant to develop a disaster preparedness plan for its collection of photographs and historic artifacts dating to the nineteenth century.
  • Every year high school classes across the state compete in We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution, a program of the Center for Civic Education supported by the South Dakota Humanities Council that asks students to research and present an oral argument on constitutional questions, ultimately in a Congressional-style hearing before judges.
  • Approximately 250 students in South Dakota every year join six hundred thousand others across the country in participating in National History Day. This program, which is supported by the South Dakota Humanities Council, invites students to present projects on a given theme such as the role of innovation or diplomacy in history.
  • The South Dakota Festival of Books is a three-day event supported by the South Dakota Humanities Council and a number of other organizations that brings nationally known authors to town for readings, presentations, and book signings.