South Dakota

South Dakota

South Dakota, state in the N central United States. It is bordered by North Dakota (N), Minnesota and Iowa (E), Nebraska (S), and Wyoming and Montana (W).

Facts and Figures

Area, 77,047 sq mi (199,552 sq km). Pop. (2000) 754,844, an 8.5% increase since the 1990 census. Capital, Pierre. Largest city, Sioux Falls. Statehood, Nov. 2, 1889 (40th state), simultaneously with North Dakota. Highest pt., Harney Peak, 7,242 ft (2,209 m); lowest pt., Big Stone Lake, 962 ft (293 m). Nicknames, Rushmore State; Coyote State. Motto, Under God the People Rule. State bird, ring-necked pheasant. State flower, pasqueflower. State tree, Black Hills spruce. Abbr., S.Dak.; SD


South Dakota shows some of the earliest geologic history of the continent in the rock formations of the ancient Black Hills and in the Badlands. In the area between the White River and the south fork of the Cheyenne, the Badlands display in their deeply eroded clay gullies not only colorful, fantastic shapes, but also a wealth of easily accessible marine and land fossils (the Badlands National Monument preserves the area for its startling scenery and geologic interest). From east to west the state rises some 6,000 ft (1,829 m) to Harney Peak (7,242 ft/2,207 m) in the Black Hills, highest point in the United States E of the Rockies.

Through the center of the state the Missouri River cuts a wide valley southward; other principal rivers include the James and the Big Sioux to the east, and the Cheyenne, the Belle Fourche, the Moreau, the Grand River, and the White River to the west. The whole of South Dakota has a continental climate; summer brings a succession of hot, cloudless days, and in winter blizzards sweep across bare hillsides, filling the coulees with deep snow. The average annual rainfall is low, and declines from east to west across the state, and in years of drought summer winds blow away acres of top soil in "black blizzards."

Among the state's attractions are Badlands and Wind Cave national parks, Jewel Cave National Monument, and the famous gigantic carvings of the Mount Rushmore National Memorial (see National Parks and Monuments, table). Pierre is the capital; the largest cities are Sioux Falls and Rapid City.


Almost one third of the region west of the Missouri River, a semiarid, treeless plain, belongs to Native Americans, most of whom live on reservations such as Cheyenne River, Pine Ridge, Rosebud, and Standing Rock. Much of the remaining area is occupied by large ranches; there cattle and sheep ranching provide the major source of income, with soybean and wheat farming second in the production of revenue. In the more productive region east of the Missouri, livestock and livestock products are the primary sources of income. Corn, soybeans, oats, and wheat are South Dakota's chief cash crops; sunflowers, sorghum, flaxseed, and barley are also grown. Although there is a certain amount of diversified industry, including electronics manufacturing, in Sioux Falls and Rapid City, meatpacking and food processing are by far the major industries of the state.

Gold is South Dakota's most important mineral, and the town of Lead in the Black Hills is the country's leading gold-mining center. Tourism, focusing especially on Mt. Rushmore and other Black Hills sites, and gambling are also major sources of income.

Government and Higher Education

South Dakota is governed under its 1889 constitution. The legislature consists of 35 senators and 70 representatives, all elected for two-year terms. The governor is elected for four years. William Janklow, a Republican who had previously occupied the statehouse from 1979 to 1987, was elected governor in 1994 and reelected in 1998. He was succeeded by fellow Republican Mike Rounds, elected in 2002 and reelected four years later. The state sends one U.S. representative and two senators to the U.S. Congress and has three electoral votes.

Institutions of higher learning in South Dakota include Augustana College, at Sioux Falls; Northern State College, at Aberdeen; the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, at Rapid City; South Dakota State Univ., at Brookings; and the Univ. of South Dakota, at Vermillion.


Early Inhabitants, European Exploration, and Fur Trading

At the time of European exploration, South Dakota was inhabited by Native Americans of the agricultural Arikara and the nomadic Sioux (Dakota). By the 1830s the Sioux had driven the Arikara from the area. Part of the region that is now South Dakota was explored in the mid-18th cent. by sons of the sieur de la Vérendrye. The United States acquired the region as part of the Louisiana Purchase, and it was partially explored by Lewis and Clark in their Missouri River expedition of 1804-6. Later explorers became well acquainted with the warlike Sioux, who continued to dominate the region from the period of the fur trade until to the middle of the 19th cent. Individual traders from the time of Pierre Dorion in the late 18th cent. made the region their home, and the posts founded by Pierre Chouteau and the American Fur Company were the first bases for settlement. (Fort Pierre was established in 1817.)


It was not until land speculators and farmers moved westward from Minnesota and Iowa in the 1850s that any significant settlements developed in South Dakota. Two land companies were established at Sioux Falls in 1856, and in 1859 Yankton, Bon Homme, and Vermillion were laid out. A treaty with the Sioux opened the land between the Big Sioux and the Missouri, and in 1861 Dakota Territory was established, embracing not only present-day North and South Dakota but also E Wyoming and E Montana. Yankton was the capital. Settlers were discouraged by droughts, conflicts with the Native Americans, and plagues of locusts; however, by the time the railroad pushed to Yankton in 1872, the region had received the first of the European immigrants who later came in great numbers, contributing significant German, Scandinavian, and Russian elements to the Dakotas.

Gold Fever and the End of Sioux Resistance

Rumors of gold in the Black Hills, confirmed by a military expedition led by George A. Custer in 1874, excited national interest, and wealth seekers began to pour into the area. However, much of the Black Hills region had been granted (1868) to the Sioux by treaty, and when they refused to sell either mining rights or the reservation itself, warfare again broke out. The defeat (1876) of Custer and his men by Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse, and Gall in the battle of the Little Bighorn (in what is now Montana) did not prevent the whites from gradually acquiring more and more Native American land, including the gold-lined Black Hills.

The near extinction of the buffalo herds, Sitting Bull's death (1890) at the hands of army-trained Native American police, and the subsequent massacre of Big Foot's band at Wounded Knee Creek were among the factors leading to the permanent end of Native American resistance in South Dakota. Tribal organization was weakened by the Dawes Act of 1887. Although the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934 attempted to restore tribal ownership of repurchased lands, younger generations have moved to the cities in increasing numbers. During the 1870s the gold fever mounted; Deadwood had its day of gaudy glory, Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane created frontier legends, and the town of Lead began its long, productive history.

The Dakota Land Boom, Statehood, and Agrarian Reform

Although gold did not make the fortune of South Dakota, it laid the foundation by stimulating cattle ranching—herds of cattle were first brought to the grasslands of W South Dakota partly to supply food for the miners. Settlement in the east also increased and the period from 1878 to 1886, following the resumption of railroad building after the financial depression earlier in the decade, was the time of the great Dakota land boom, when the region's population increased threefold.

Agitation for statehood developed; in 1888 the Republican party adopted the statehood movement as a campaign issue, and in 1889 Congress passed an enabling act. The Dakotas were separated; South Dakota became a state with Pierre as capital. Disasters, however, rocked its security. The unusually severe winter of 1886-87 had destroyed huge herds of cattle in the west, ruining the great bonanza ranches and promoting among the ranchers the trend—dominant ever since—of having smaller herds with provisions for winter shelter and feeding. Cattle grazed on public land and were rounded up only for branding and shipment to market.

Recurrent droughts added to the difficulties of the farmers, who sought economic relief in the cooperative ventures of the Farmers' Alliance and political influence in the Populist party, which won a resounding victory in 1896. Initiative and referendum were adopted (1898; South Dakota was the first state to adopt them) and other progressive measures of the day were enacted. However, prosperity resumed, and with it South Dakota quickly returned to political conservatism and the Republican party.

Railroads, Droughts, and the Great Depression

The extension of railroads (particularly the Milwaukee, which was the only transcontinental line passing through South Dakota) encouraged further expansion of agriculture, but new droughts (especially that of 1910-11) brought a brief period of emigration. Many new farmsteads were abandoned, and a turn toward political radicalism developed. The Progressive party, led by Peter Norbeck (governor 1917-21) and operating as a branch of the Republican party, revived the attempts of Populist reform programs to regulate railroad rates and raise assessments of corporate property. The Progressives also entered into experiments in state ownership of business.

Prosperity-depression cycles again affected the state after the boom of World War I. The combination of droughts and the Great Depression brought widespread calamities in the late 1920s and early 30s, and the state's population declined by 50,000 between 1930 and 1940. Vigorous relief measures were instituted under the New Deal, and higher farm prices during World War II and the ensuing years brought a new era of hopefulness.

Postwar Changes

The 1950s began a period of Democratic strength in state politics. George McGovern was elected to the House of Representatives in 1956 and to the Senate in 1962, 1968, and 1974. In 1972 McGovern ran unsuccessfully for president. In 1973 a militant Native American group occupied a courthouse at Wounded Knee and the resulting gun battle with federal marshals heightened the long-time Native American resentment of the U.S. government over the issue of broken treaties.

In the postwar period the adoption of improved farming techniques resulted in a steady increase in agricultural and livestock production. This was accompanied, however, by the consolidation of small farms into large units and the displacement of many small farmers. Irrigation projects, extension of hydroelectric power, and protective measures against wind and water erosion have been implemented, avoiding the threat of new disasters. In 1981 a major New York bank relocated its credit-card operations to Sioux Falls, marking the beginning of the state's shift toward service, finance, and trade industries that, in turn, has resulted in significant economic growth. Some casino gambling was legalized in 1989 and tourism continues to be one of the state's top sources of income.


See H. S. Schell, South Dakota: Its Beginnings and Growth (1960) and History of South Dakota (3d ed. 1975); J. R. Milton, South Dakota (1977); F. M. Berg, South Dakota: Land of Shining Gold (1982).

South Dakota, University of, at Vermillion; state supported; coeducational; chartered 1862, opened 1882 as the Univ. of Dakota. In 1891 it was renamed the Univ. of South Dakota; in 1959 it became the State Univ. of South Dakota and in 1964 its present name was again adopted. The medical school is at Sioux Falls.
{{Infobox Settlement |official_name = Aberdeen, South Dakota |other_name = |native_name = |nickname = |settlement_type = City |motto = |image_skyline = DSCF0643.JPG |imagesize = |image_caption = |image_flag = |flag_size = |image_seal = |seal_size = |image_shield = |shield_size = |image_blank_emblem = |blank_emblem_type = |blank_emblem_size = |image_map = Brown_County_South_Dakota_Incorporated_and_Unincorporated_areas_Aberdeen_Highlighted.svg |mapsize = 250px |map_caption = Location in Brown County and the state of South Dakota |image_map1 = |mapsize1 = |map_caption1 = |image_dot_map = |dot_mapsize = |dot_map_caption = |dot_x = |dot_y = |pushpin_map = |pushpin_label_position = |pushpin_map_caption = |pushpin_mapsize = |subdivision_type = Country |subdivision_name = United States |subdivision_type1 = State |subdivision_name1 = South Dakota |subdivision_type2 = County |subdivision_name2 = Brown |subdivision_type3 = |subdivision_name3 = |subdivision_type4 = |subdivision_name4 = |government_footnotes = |government_type = |leader_title = Mayor |leader_name = Mike Levsen |leader_title1 = |leader_name1 = |leader_title2 = |leader_name2 = |leader_title3 = |leader_name3 = |leader_title4 = |leader_name4 = |established_title = |established_date = |established_title2 = |established_date2 = |established_title3 = |established_date3 = |area_magnitude = 1 E9 |unit_pref = Imperial |area_footnotes = |area_total_km2 = 33.7 |area_land_km2 = 33.6 |area_water_km2 = 0.2 |area_total_sq_mi = 13.0 |area_land_sq_mi = 12.9 |area_water_sq_mi = 0.1 |area_water_percent = |area_urban_km2 = |area_urban_sq_mi = |area_metro_km2 = |area_metro_sq_mi = |area_blank1_title = |area_blank1_km2 = |area_blank1_sq_mi = |population_as_of = 2000 |population_footnotes = |population_note = |population_total = 24658 |population_density_km2 = |population_density_sq_mi = 1902.1 |population_metro = |population_density_metro_km2 = |population_density_metro_sq_mi = |population_urban = |population_density_urban_km2 = |population_density_urban_sq_mi = |population_blank1_title = |population_blank1 = |population_density_blank1_km2 = |population_density_blank1_sq_mi = |timezone = Central |utc_offset = -6 |timezone_DST = Central |utc_offset_DST = -5 |latd = 45 |latm = 27 |lats = 49 |latNS = N |longd = 98 |longm = 28 |longs = 53 |longEW = W |elevation_footnotes = The Aberdeen area is home to several cultural organizations. The Aberdeen Area Arts Council publishes a small monthly newspaper, ARTiFACTS, with information on area events.

The Aberdeen Community Theater was created in 1979 and performs at the Capitol Theater in downtown Aberdeen. The Capitol Theater was originally built in 1926 and donated to the Aberdeen Community Theater in 1991; since then more than $963,000 has been spent on renovating and preserving the historical aspect of the Capitol Theater. Today, the Aberdeen Community Theater performs five mainstage productions and three youth productions per year. The NSU Theater Department puts plays during the school year. The ArtWorks Cooperative is a partnership of artists who work to market their artwork in a gallery setting. The ArtWorks Cooperative sells artists’ work as well as provides an environment that will benefit the artist in terms of artist-to-artist communication, and public interest.

There are four galleries in Aberdeen: Presentation College’s Wein Gallery, Northern State University’s Lincoln Gallery, the Aberdeen Recreation & Cultural Center (ARCC) Gallery and the ArtWorks Cooperative Gallery located in the Lakewood Mall.

Sports and recreation

Family Aquatic Center

Completed in the summer of 2007, this complex includes a zero entry pool, competition lap pool, lazy river, numerous water slides, play sand area, and a concession area.


Aberdeen is presently home to 24 public tennis courts throughout the city -Melgaard Park (4), Northern State University (12), and Holgate Middle School (8). At one point in the past, the city of Aberdeen had 27 tennis courts giving it the most tennis courts in the country per capita.


Aberdeen is home to three golf courses. These are Lee Park Municipal Golf Course, Moccassin Creek Country Club, and Rolling Hills Country Club. Lee Park and Moccassin Creek are both 18 hole courses. Rolling Hills is a combined nine hole course and housing development which opened in 2005.


Aberdeen has a skate park located between East Melgaard Road and 17th Ave SE at Melgaard Park. The equipment installed includes a quarter pipe, penalty box with half pyramid, bank ramp, spine, kinked rail and a ground rail.

Disc golf

Aberdeen is home to two disc golf courses. Kuhnert Arboretum and the Richmond Lake Disc Golf Course.

Richmond Lake Recreation Area

The Richmond Lake Recreation Area is used by all types of outdoors enthusiasts. Three separate areas in this park cater to the needs of campers, swimmers, naturalists, boaters and anglers. Campers stay in the South Unit, while the Forest Drive Unit is a great place for wildlife viewing. The Boat Ramp Unit provides access to the more than lake.Camping/Cabins Richmond Lake Recreation Area's small campground offers a quiet camping experience. The park also features a wheelchair accessible camping cabin.Trails The park's extensive trail system features over of trails, including both accessible and interpretive trails. Hikers, bikers and horseback riders can observe the abundance of prairie plants and wildlife of the area up-close.Boating The park has multiple private and public boat ramps as well as an accessible fishing dock. Richmond Lake has a population of walleye, northern pike, bass, perch, crappie, bluegill, catfish, and bullheads within its waters. An entrance fee is required to gain access to the water and park itself.

Wylie Park Recreation Area

Wylie Park Recreation Area features a water slide, go kart racing, sand volleyball courts, access to Wylie Lake, camping area, picnic areas, and is connected to Storybook Land. Wylie Lake is a small man-made lake, open in the summer months for swimming, lying on the beach, and paddleboating.

Storybook Land

Storybook Land is a park with attractions from several different children's storybooks. The park contains a castle, as well as a train that takes visitors through the park. There are two barns which contain petting zoos. Newly added is the Land of Oz, that features characters and attractions from L. Frank Baum's "Wizard of Oz." Baum was a resident of Aberdeen in the 1880s, but was run out of town by the residents due to his racism and social differences.

Minor League Baseball

Aberdeen has been home to three minor league baseball teams since 1920. The Aberdeen Boosters, a class D league team, played in 1920, the Aberdeen Grays, also a class D team, played from 1921 to 1923. The class C Aberdeen Pheasants from 1946 to 1971, and 1995 to 1997. The Pheasants were the affiliate of the former St. Louis Browns (current Baltimore Orioles). Aberdeen was a train stop to the majors for such notable players as Don Larsen (perfect game in the World Series), Lou Pinella (AL rookie of the year with Kansas City Royals in 1969), and Jim Palmer, Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher for the Baltimore Orioles.


There are many Christian churches in Aberdeen, but few houses of worship for other religions. There are several Roman Catholic, Baptist, Lutheran, and Methodist churches in the area, as well as one synagogue.

Local government

Aberdeen is the center of government for Brown County. City government is overseen by a mayor/city manager and eight council members. The city council is composed of Mayor/City Manager Mike Levson and council members Todd Campbell, Nancy Aman, James Kraft, Jeff Mitchell, Tom Agnitsch, David Bunsness, Clint Rux and Lloyd Hodgin. Each council member serves a five year term. County government is overseen by five commissioners. Each county commissioner serves a five year term. The county commissioners include Dennis Feickert, Tom Fischbach, Nancy Hansen, Deb Knecht, and Mike Wiese. Aberdeen is home to Brown County offices including clerk-magistrate, county auditor, landfill office, register of deeds, county treasurer, coroner, emergency management, highway superintendent, public welfare, state’s attorney, and a few others. The state senators from Brown County include Al Hoerth and Jim Hundstad, and the state representatives included H. Paul Dennert, Burt Elliot, Al Novstrup, and David Novstrup. However, all of these legislators' terms end in December 2008.


Major Employers

  • Avera Saint Luke’s Hospital: 1,379 employees
  • Aberdeen Public School District: 650
  • 3M: 402
  • Wyndham Worldwide: 400
  • Aman Collection Service Inc.: 450
  • Hub City Inc.: 382
  • South Dakota Wheat Growers: 310
  • Northern State University: 298
  • Kessler’s, Inc.: 260
  • Midstates Printing/Quality Quick Print: 300



The Aberdeen Regional Airport is currently served by Northwest Airlines. It offers flight service to Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.


There are two major US highways that serve Aberdeen. One is US Highway 281 that runs from the North Dakota border and goes to the border with Nebraska. The second highway is US Highway 12 that runs across South Dakota from the Minnesota border to the Montana border. US Highway 12 is the major thoroughfare in Aberdeen. US Highway 12 is signed in the city of Aberdeen as 6th Avenue South. US Highway 281 was recently realigned onto a new bypass that was constructed around the western area of the city.


Taxi Aberdeen Taxi service provides general taxi service in Aberdeen. Aberdeen Shuttle provides shuttle service to and from the airport along with general taxi services.Bus Jefferson Lines is a bus service from Aberdeen that connects to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Fargo, North Dakota, and Minneapolis, Minnesota.Car rental There are four car rental services in Aberdeen; Hertz, Avis, Payless & Toyota Rent-A-Car. Hertz and Avis Car rental are located in the terminal. Payless Car Rental is located in Aberdeen Flying Service. Toyota Rent-A-Car is located at Harr Motors across from the airport.Train The Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway conveys freight and grain through Aberdeen.

Popular attractions

Notable residents and natives

External links


  • Aberdeen Catholic School System. anonymous. n.d. Aberdeen Catholic School System, Aberdeen, South Dakota. 27 November 2006
  • Aberdeen Christian School. anonymous. n.d. Aberdeen Christian School, Aberdeen, SD. 26 November 2006
  • "About PC." Presentation College. n.d. 30 November 2006
  • "Academics." Presentation College. n.d. 30 November 2006
  • "Programs." Hub Area Technical School. n.d. 27 November 2006
  • "RHS Activities & Athletics." Roncalli High School. n.d. 27 November 2006
  • "Roncalli at a glance: Brief History and outline of the Aberdeen Catholic School System. Aberdeen Catholic School System. n.d. 27 November 2006
  • "Saints Athletics." Presentation College. n.d. 30 November 2006
  • "Schools." Aberdeen Public Schools. n.d. 28 November 2006
  • "Area Art Events October Through December." ARTiFACTS: Aberdeen Area Arts Council. Oct. 2006: 3
  • Art WORKS Cooperative. Aberdeen, South Dakota: Art WORKS Cooperative, 2006
  • "Clip & Save." ARTiFACTS: Aberdeen Area Arts Council. Oct. 2006: 2
  • Empowering all STUDENTS to Succeed in a Changing World. Aberdeen, South Dakota: Aberdeen School District 6-1, 2006.
  • Got a minute or two?. Aberdeen, South Dakota: Aberdeen Christian High School, 2006.
  • Hub Area Technical School. anonymous. n.d. Hub Area Technical School, Aberdeen, South Dakota. 27 November 2006
  • Lindner, JoEllen. "Admissions." Presentation College. n.d. 30 November 2006
  • Northern State University Theater. Aberdeen, South Dakota: Northern State University, 2006
  • Unlimited Opportunities Endless Possibilities, Presentation College. Aberdeen, South Dakota: Presentation College, 2006.
  • Avera St. Lukes. "Avera St. Luke's: We're Caring for Life." Aberdeen, South Dakota.
  • Avera St. Lukes. "Healthcare Directory and Wellness Guide." Aberdeen, South Dakota.
  • American News. "Access Aberdeen." Aberdeen, South Dakota 2006.
  • Keast, Bret. "Tomorrow Plan: Planting Seeds for a Better Tomorrow." Aberdeen, South Dakota, Future Land Use Plan 2005.
  • Aberdeen Chamber of Commerce. Aberdeen, SD. n.d.
  • Don Artz. The Town in the Frog Pond. 1991. Memories, Inc.
  • Dacotah Prairie Museum. Aberdeen/Brown County, South Dakota Historical Highlights. n.d.
  • SD Governor's Office of Economic Development

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