Between 2000 and 2010, 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 awarded to the school has so far resulted in $210,000 in matching funds, for which it has had to raise four times as much money 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.
- The Timber Lake and Area Historical Society received a $4,500 grant to preserve its 20,000-page Donna Cummings Hueschen Collection documenting the history of a family of French and Indian heritage and its connections to the Cheyenne River Sioux reservation over a two-hundred-year period.
- 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.
- Nearly 250 students in South Dakota joined half a million others across the country in participating in National History Day last year. 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. A recent headliner was Dave Eggers, whose book What is the What was used to culminate a year of humanities council programming on the subject of immigration.