South Dakota

State Information

Nickname(s):                              Mount Rushmore State

Motto(s):                                       Under God the People Rule

State song(s):                              Hail South Dakota

 Capital                                        Pierre

Largest City                                  Sioux Falls

 Admitted to US                         11/2/1889                  40th State

Brief History

South Dakota was included in the Louisiana Purchase, and President Thomas Jefferson immediately authorized Lewis & Clark to explore the region. 

Here are a few interesting facts about South Dakota:

  • It has two national parks, including the Mt Rushmore National Memorial, which cost $1 million to build and took 14 years.

  • Gold was discovered in the Black Hills, putting the town of Dead Wood center stage.  The land, however, was part of the Sioux Nation, and they refused to consent to the influx of gold rushers.  The Supreme Court, in 1980, held that the Sioux Nation was entitled to reparations for the illegal seizure – 100 years after the fact. 

  • South Dakota has the second largest buffalo heard in the Nation falling behind Yellowstone National Park. 

  • It has the nation’s lowest tax burden (10%) and the 10th lowest unemployment rate (2.9%). 

  • It has the 2nd lowest opioid death, 2nd lowest abortion rates, and the 5th and lowest utility costs in the nation. 

  • A few famous people include Hubert Humphrey (vice president), Bob Barker (game show host), Tom Brokaw (TV anchor), Sitting Bull (Native American), Crazy Horse (Native American), and many others.

Interesting Stories

Mt Rushmore is the only sculpture of iconic American presidents.  It took 14 years, 400 men, and 1 million dollars to complete.  The four presidents were chosen for their contributions to the US: Washington (the founder), Jefferson (the expansionist), Teddy Roosevelt (the conservationist), and Lincoln (the preservationist).  It is visited by nearly 3 million people each year.  This Nation preserves and celebrates its heritage.

Ernest Lawrence was born in Canton, South Dakota, and he secured his Ph.D. in physics from Yale.   Lawrence Livermore Labs in California were named after him.  It was there, at UC Berkeley, that Ernest invented the cyclotron. This device spins particles around in a spiral, faster and faster, under enormous forces until they almost reach the speed of light.  This particle acceleration technology is still used in physics and nuclear medicine. Earnest drew his cyclotron idea on a napkin while sitting in a library.  This is one of the most critical inventions in physics, on par with Caesar conquering Europe.  Both had to do with power, speed, and annihilation.  This shows that even some of the world’s most important discoveries can begin as small, half-formed ideas scribbled down on a scrap of garbage.

Sturgis Motorcycle Rally was created, in 1938, by a group of motorcycle riders.  The Rally is on the first full week in August each year.  Attendance is about 700,000, and the event generates about $800 million in revenue for South Dakota and provides 95% of the annual revenue for the city of Sturgis.  How mayor Mark Carstensen handles 700,000 visitors that arrive all at once in a town of only 7,000 is incredible.  Dig a little deeper, and something else pops out.  It has a jail of only 80 beds, and motorcyclists have been known to be a little independent with a brew or two under their belts.  Yet, this event is peaceful, safe, and damage-free.