Sunday, 24 September 2017

USA: South Dakota Has Crazy Mosquitoes And Is The Shrine of Democracy

South Dakota is an American state on the Great Plains.

South Dakota regions

Southeast South Dakota

- Most populous, includes South Dakota's largest city (Sioux Falls) and the junction of Interstate Highways 90 and 29

- Glacial Lakes
- Northeast corner, largely agricultural landscape, home to numerous lakes and the Coteau des Prairies

- Great Lakes

- Central area bordering the Missouri river

- Badlands and Black Hills

Western quarter of the state, home to the big rugged national parks, forests, grasslands, frontier towns, Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse, and the state's largest Indian Reservations

South Dakota can generally be divided into three regions: eastern South Dakota, western South Dakota, and the Black Hills.The Missouri River serves as a boundary in terms of geographic, social, and political differences between eastern and western South Dakota.

The geography of the Black Hills, long considered sacred by Native Americans, differs from its surroundings to such an extent it can be considered separate from the rest of western South Dakota.

At times the Black Hills are combined with the rest of western South Dakota, and people often refer to the resulting two regions divided by the Missouri River as West River and East River.

Eastern South Dakota generally features higher precipitation and lower topography than the western part of the state. Smaller geographic regions of this area include the Coteau des Prairies, the Dissected Till Plains, and the James River Valley.

The Coteau des Prairies is a plateau bordered on the east by the Minnesota River Valley and on the west by the James River Basin.

Further west, the James River Basin is mostly low, flat, highly eroded land, following the flow of the James River through South Dakota from north to south.

The Dissected Till Plains, an area of rolling hills and fertile soil that covers much of Iowa and Nebraska, extends into the southeastern corner of South Dakota.

Layers deposited during the Pleistocene epoch, starting around two million years ago, cover most of eastern South Dakota.[15] These are the youngest rock and sediment layers in the state, the product of several successive periods of glaciation which deposited a large amount of rocks and soil, known as till, over the area.

The Great Plains cover most of the western two-thirds of South Dakota. West of the Missouri River the landscape becomes more arid and rugged, consisting of rolling hills, plains, ravines, and steep flat-topped hills called buttes.

In the south, east of the Black Hills, lie the South Dakota Badlands. Erosion from the Black Hills, marine skeletons which fell to the bottom of a large shallow sea that once covered the area, and volcanic material all contribute to the geology of this area.

The Black Hills are in the southwestern part of South Dakota and extend into Wyoming. This range of low mountains covers 6,000 sq mi (16,000 km2), with peaks that rise from 2,000 to 4,000 feet (600 to 1,200 m) above their bases.

The Black Hills are the location of Black Elk Peak (7,242 ft or 2,207 m above sea level), the highest point in South Dakota and also the highest point in the United States east of the Rocky Mountains.

Two billion-year-old Precambrian formations, the oldest rocks in the state, form the central core of the Black Hills.

Formations from the Paleozoic Era form the outer ring of the Black Hills;these were created between roughly 540 and 250 million years ago. This area features rocks such as limestone, which were deposited here when the area formed the shoreline of an ancient inland sea.

Much of South Dakota except for the Black Hills area is dominated by a temperate grasslands biome.Although grasses and crops cover most of this region, deciduous trees such as cottonwoods, elms, and willows are common near rivers and in shelter belts.

Mammals in this area include bison, deer, pronghorn, coyotes, and prairie dogs.The state bird, the ring-necked pheasant, has adapted well to the area after being introduced from China.

Growing populations of bald eagles are spread throughout the state, especially near the Missouri River.Rivers and lakes of the grasslands support populations of walleye, carp, pike, bass, and other species.The Missouri River also contains the pre-historic paddlefish.

Due to a higher elevation and level of precipitation, the Black Hills ecology differs significantly from the plains.The mountains are thickly blanketed by various types of pines, including ponderosa and lodgepole pines, as well as spruces.

Black Hills mammals include deer, elk or wapiti, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, pine marten, and mountain lions, while the streams and lakes contain several species of trout.

Cities Of South Dakota

- Pierre, the State capital located on the Missouri River.

- Aberdeen, Third largest city, located in the northeast corner of the state. Home to Northern State University.

- Brookings, Home to South Dakota State University and Hobo Days and two state museums.

- Custer, Oldest City in the Black Hills, home of Custer State Park, and near the Crazy Horse Memorial and Wind and Jewel Caves.

- Deadwood, A national historic landmark located in the Black Hills, with plenty of gambling and "Old West" tourist attractions.

- Mitchell, Home of the World's Only Corn Palace, with new murals covering the outside every year since 1892. Home of the Mitchell Prehistoric Indian Village.

- Rapid City, Second largest city in the state, located at the base of the Black Hills along Interstate 90. Home to Dinosaur Park, Reptile Gardens, and Bear Country, among other attractions. Starting point for vacations in the Black Hills and seeing Mt. Rushmore.

- Sioux Falls, Largest city in the state, named after the falls of the Big Sioux River.
Wall -- Gateway to the Badlands and home of Wall Drug.

- Sioux Falls is the largest city in South Dakota, with a 2010 population of 153,888,and a metropolitan area population of 238,122.The city, founded in 1856, is in the southeast corner of the state.

Retail, finance, and healthcare have assumed greater importance in Sioux Falls, where the economy was originally centered on agri-business and quarrying.

Rapid City, with a 2010 population of 67,956,and a metropolitan area population of 124,766,is the second-largest city in the state. It is on the eastern edge of the Black Hills, and was founded in 1876.

Rapid City's economy is largely based on tourism and defense spending,because of the proximity of many tourist attractions in the Black Hills and Ellsworth Air Force Base.

The next eight largest cities in the state, in order of descending 2010 population, are Aberdeen (26,091), Brookings (22,056), Watertown (21,482), Mitchell (15,254), Yankton (14,454), Pierre (13,646), Huron (12,592), and Vermillion (10,571).

Pierre is the state capital, and Brookings and Vermillion are the locations of the state's two largest universities,South Dakota State University and University of South Dakota, respectively.

With a population of about 14,000, Pierre is the second smallest state capital in the United States.[164] Of the ten largest cities in the state, only Rapid City is west of the Missouri River.

Fishing and hunting are popular outdoor activities in South Dakota. Fishing contributes over $224 million to South Dakota's economy, and hunting contributes over $303 million.

In 2007, over 275,000 hunting licences and 175,000 fishing licences were sold in the state; around half of the hunting licences and over two-thirds of the fishing licences were purchased by South Dakotans.

Popular species of game include pheasants, white-tailed deer, mule deer, and turkeys, as well as waterfowl such as Canada geese, snow geese, and mallards.

Targets of anglers include walleye in the eastern glacial lakes and Missouri River reservoirs,Chinook salmon in Lake Oahe, and trout in the Black Hills.

Other sports, such as cycling and running, are also popular in the state. In 1991, the state opened the George S. Mickelson Trail, a 109-mile (175 km) rail trail in the Black Hills.

Besides being used by cyclists, the trail is also the site of a portion of the annual Mount Rushmore marathon; the marathon's entire course is at an elevation of over 4,000 feet (1,200 m).

Other events in the state include the Tour de Kota, a 478-mile (769 km), six-day cycling event that covers much of eastern and central South Dakota,[205] and the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, which draws hundreds of thousands of participants from around the United States.

Interesting Places

- Badlands National Park

- Black Hills National Forest

- Chief Crazy Horse Memorial A mountain which is to be the worlds largest statue. Decades-long, generations-long project near Custer
Jewel Cave National Monument

- Lewis and Clark Trail, Lewis and Clark passed through the state along the Missouri River in their now legendary journey to the Pacific Northwest

- Minuteman Missile National Historic Site

- Missouri National Recreational River

- Mount Rushmore National Memorial

- Wind Cave National Park A park is named for its sacred cave who's air which is either sucked in or blown out, depending on atmospheric conditions

South Dakota is located in the north central United States. It is bordered by North Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming and Montana. The state capitol is Pierre, which is located almost exactly in the center of the state.

South Dakota has several sites administered by the National Park Service. Two national parks have been established in South Dakota, both in the state's southwestern part.

Wind Cave National Park, established in 1903 in the Black Hills, has an extensive cave network as well as a large herd of bison.Badlands National Park was created in 1978.

The park features an eroded, brightly colored landscape surrounded by semi-arid grasslands.Mount Rushmore National Memorial in the Black Hills was established in 1925. The sculpture of four U.S. Presidents was carved into the mountainside by sculptor Gutzon Borglum.

Other areas managed by the National Park Service include Jewel Cave National Monument near Custer, the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail, the Minuteman Missile National Historic Site, which features a decommissioned nuclear missile silo and a separate missile control area several miles away, and the Missouri National Recreational River.

The Crazy Horse Memorial is a large mountainside sculpture near Mt. Rushmore being built with private funds.The Mammoth Site near Hot Springs is another privately owned attraction in the Black Hills. A working paleontological dig, the site has one of the world's largest concentrations of mammoth remains.

The tourism industry has grown considerably since the completion of the interstate system in the 1960s, with the Black Hills becoming more important as a destination.

The financial service industry began to grow in the state as well, with Citibank moving its credit card operations from New York to Sioux Falls in 1981, a move that has been followed by several other financial companies. South Dakota was the first state to eliminate caps on interest rates.

South Dakota is home to Mount Rushmore National Memorial. In 1927, sculptor Gutzon Borglum came to the Black Hills to carve his masterpiece into the side of a granite mountain. Today, visitors from all over the world come to western South Dakota to see the 60-foot faces of four American Presidents.

South Dakota is a popular family vacation destination. In addition to Mount Rushmore National Memorial, other popular stops are Custer State Park, Crazy Horse Memorial, Deadwood, the World’s Only Corn Palace, Badlands National Park, Fort Sisseton Historic State Park, Wall Drug and Lewis and Clark Recreation Area.

In De Smet, visitors can still tour the childhood homestead of beloved “Little House on the Prairie” author Laura Ingalls Wilder. Pierre’s Cultural Heritage Center houses the Museum of the South Dakota State Historical Society, which preserves the history of the State of South Dakota and Dakota Territory.

South Dakota has a rich history going back to the days of the dinosaurs. One of the most complete T. rex skeletons was found in South Dakota and the largest collection of Columbian Wooly Mammoth fossils are still being unearthed at The Mammoth Site in Hot Springs in the southern Black Hills.

Visitors to Badlands National Park can learn about what is considered to be one of the richest fossil beds in the country.

South Dakota is home to the Dakota, Lakota and Nakota-speaking people of the Great Sioux Nation. Several museums and cultural centers across the state depict the history and traditions of these people as well as display ancient artifacts and modern artwork.

Across the state, visitors can explore the Native American Scenic Byway, attend a traditional powwow and experience Native American culture.

The Black Hills, called Paha Sapa by the Native Americans, is considered sacred ground to many tribes across the country. The Lakota Nation believes all life comes from Paha Sapa, and they fought fiercely to protect it during the Indian Wars of the 1800s.

One of the most sacred places is Bear Butte in the northern Black Hills. This formation of magma never erupted and looks like a giant sleeping bear. Now a state park, Bear Butte is still used as a place of worship for more than 60 Native American tribes.

More than 62,000 Native Americans currently live in South Dakota.

According to the 2010 Census, the racial composition of the population was:

- 84.7% White (83.8% non-Hispanic white)

- 8.8% American Indian and Alaska Native

- 1.2% African American or black

- 0.9% Asian American

- 0.1% from some other race

- 1.8% of two or more races

Ethnically, 2.7% of South Dakota's population was of Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin.

As of 2000, the five largest ancestry groups in South Dakota are German (40.7%), Norwegian (15.3%), Irish (10.4%), Native American (8.3%), and English (7.1%).

German Americans are the largest ancestry group in most parts of the state, especially in East River,east of the Missouri River, although there are also large Scandinavian-descended populations in some counties.

South Dakota has the nation's largest population of Hutterites, a communal Anabaptist group which emigrated in 1874 from Europe, primarily from German-speaking areas.

American Indians, largely Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota (Sioux), are predominant in several counties and comprise 20 per cent of the population in West River.

The seven large Indian reservations in the state occupy an area much diminished from their former Great Sioux Reservation of West River, which the US government had once allocated to the Sioux tribes.

South Dakota has the third-highest proportion of Native Americans of any state, behind Alaska and New Mexico.

Five of the state's counties are wholly within the boundaries of sovereign Indian reservations.Because of the limitations of climate and land, and isolation from urban areas with more employment opportunities, living standards on many South Dakota reservations are often far below the national average; Ziebach County ranked as the poorest county in the nation in 2009.

The unemployment rate in Fort Thompson, on the Crow Creek Reservation, is 70%, and 21% of households lack plumbing or basic kitchen appliances.

A 1995 study by the U.S. Census Bureau found 58% of homes on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation did not have a telephone.

The reservations' isolation also inhibits their ability to generate revenue from gaming casinos, an avenue that has proved profitable for many tribes closer to urban centers.

In 1995 the legislature passed a law to make English the common language of the state.As of the 2000 census, 1.90% of the population aged 5 or older speak German at home, while 1.51% speak Lakota or Dakota, and 1.43% Spanish.

As of 2010, 93.46% (692,504) of South Dakota residents aged 5 and older spoke English as their primary language. 6.54% of the population spoke a language other than English. 2.06% (15,292) of the population spoke Spanish, 1.39% (10,282) spoke Dakota, and 1.37% (10,140) spoke German.

Other languages spoken included Vietnamese (0.16%), Chinese (0.12%), and Russian (0.10%).

Over the last several decades, the population in many rural areas has declined in South Dakota, in common with other Great Plains states. The change has been characterized as rural flight as family farming has declined.

Young people have moved to cities for other employment. This trend has continued in recent years, with 30 of South Dakota's counties losing population between the 1990 and the 2000 census.

During that time, nine counties had a population loss of greater than 10%, with Harding County, in the northwest corner of the state, losing nearly 19% of its population.

Low birth rates and a lack of younger immigration has caused the median age of many of these counties to increase. In 24 counties, at least 20% of the population is over the age of 65,compared with a national rate of 12.8%.

The effect of rural flight has not been spread evenly through South Dakota, however. Although most rural counties and small towns have lost population, the Sioux Falls area, the larger counties along Interstate 29, the Black Hills, and many Indian reservations have all gained population.

As the reservations have exercised more sovereignty, some Sioux have returned to them from urban areas. Lincoln County near Sioux Falls was the seventh fastest-growing county by percentage in the United States in 2010.

The growth in these areas has compensated for losses in the rest of the state.South Dakota's total population continues to increase steadily, albeit at a slower rate than the national average.

The largest denominations by number of adherents in 2010 were the Roman Catholic Church with 148,883 members; the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) with 112,649 members; and the United Methodist Church (UMC) with 36,020 members.

The ELCA and UMC are specific denominations within the broader terms Lutheran and Methodist, respectively. The results of a 2001 survey, in which South Dakotans were asked to identify their religion, include:

- Christian (86%)

- Protestant (54%)

- Lutheran (27%)

- Methodist (13%)

- Baptist (4%)

- Presbyterian (4%)

- Other Protestant (6%)

- Roman Catholic (25%)

- Non-denominational Christian (7%)

- Not religious (8%)

- Other religions (3%)

- Refused to answer (2%)

In 1874, an expedition led by General Custer discovered gold for the first time in the Black Hills and incited a gold rush. The largest find was near the town of present day Lead.

In 2002, after yielding gold for more than 120 years, the Homestake Gold Mine shut down mining operations, but the location was recently named the proposed site for the National Science Foundation’s Deep Underground Science and Engineering Laboratory (DUSEL).

Currently, the Sanford Laboratory at Homestake is conducting experiments to demonstrate the feasibility of the site for DUSEL.

Agriculture continues to be the mainstay of South Dakota’s economy. Eastern South Dakota supports a variety of crops, while cattle and sheep ranching are prevalent on the drier, western plains.

South Dakota is a leading producer of honey, oats, rye, sunflowers, spring wheat, soybeans, corn, beef cattle, hogs, buffalo and sheep.

Interstate 90 runs east to west across South Dakota, while Interstate 29 runs north to south near the eastern border. Interstate Information Centers are staffed in the summer months and offer a variety of travel and tourism information.

The state has two major airports located in Rapid City in the west and Sioux Falls in the east. Rapid City is on the eastern edge of the Black Hills, approximately 25 miles from Mount Rushmore National Memorial.

Sioux Falls is located at the intersection of Interstates 29 and 90. Aberdeen, Pierre and Watertown also have airports with limited service by major carriers.

The current-dollar gross state product of South Dakota was US$39.8 billion as of 2010, the fifth smallest total state output in the US. The per capita personal income was $38,865 in 2010, ranked 25th in the U.S.,] and 12.5% of the population was below the poverty line in 2008.

CNBC's list of "Top States for Business for 2010" has recognized South Dakota as the seventh best state in the nation.In July 2011, the state's unemployment rate was 4.7%.

The service industry is the largest economic contributor in South Dakota. This sector includes the retail, finance, and health care industries. Citibank, which was the largest bank holding company in the United States at one time, established national banking operations in South Dakota in 1981 to take advantage of favorable banking regulations.

Government spending is another important segment of the state's economy, providing over ten percent of the gross state product. Ellsworth Air Force Base, near Rapid City, is the second-largest single employer in the state.

Agriculture has historically been a key component of the South Dakota economy. Although other industries have expanded rapidly in recent decades, agricultural production is still very important to the state's economy, especially in rural areas.

The five most valuable agricultural products in South Dakota are cattle, corn (maize), soybeans, wheat, and hogs.

Agriculture-related industries such as meat packing and ethanol production also have a considerable economic impact on the state. South Dakota is the sixth leading ethanol-producing state in the nation.

Another important sector in South Dakota's economy is tourism. Many travel to view the attractions of the state, particularly those in the Black Hills region, such as historic Deadwood, Mount Rushmore, and the nearby state and national parks.

One of the largest tourist events in the state is the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. The five-day event drew over 739,000 attendees in 2015; significant considering the state has a total population of 850,000.

In 2006, tourism provided an estimated 33,000 jobs in the state and contributed over two billion dollars to the economy of South Dakota.

South Dakota has 83,609 miles (134,556 km) of highways, roads, and streets, along with 679 miles (1,093 km) of interstate highways.Two major interstates pass through South Dakota: Interstate 90, which runs east and west through the southern half of the state; and Interstate 29, running north and south in the eastern portion of the state.

The I-29 corridor features generally higher rates of population and economic growth than areas in eastern South Dakota further from the interstate.

Also in the state are the shorter Interstates 190, a spur into central Rapid City, and 229, a loop around southern and eastern Sioux Falls.

Several major U.S. highways pass through the state. U.S. routes 12, 14, 16, 18 and 212 travel east and west, while U.S. routes 81, 83, 85 and 281 run north and south. South Dakota and Montana are the only states sharing a land border which is not traversed by a paved road.

South Dakota contains two National Scenic Byways. The Peter Norbeck National Scenic Byway is in the Black Hills, while the Native American Scenic Byway runs along the Missouri River in the north-central part of the state.

Other scenic byways include the Badlands Loop Scenic Byway, the Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway, and the Wildlife Loop Road Scenic Byway.

Railroads have played an important role in South Dakota transportation since the mid-19th century. Some 4,420 miles (7,110 km) of railroad track were built in South Dakota during the late 19th century and early 20th century,but only 1,839 miles (2,960 km) are active.

BNSF Railway is the largest railroad in South Dakota; the Rapid City, Pierre and Eastern Railroad formerly the Dakota, Minnesota and Eastern, is the state's other major carrier.

Rail transportation in the state is confined only to freight, however, as South Dakota is one of only states lacking Amtrak service.

South Dakota's largest commercial airports in terms of passenger traffic are the Sioux Falls Regional Airport and Rapid City Regional Airport.

Delta Air Lines, Frontier Airlines, and Allegiant Airlines, as well as commuter airlines using the brand affiliation with major airlines serve the two largest airports.

Several other cities in the state also have commercial air service: Aberdeen Regional Airport, Huron Regional Airport, Pierre Regional Airport, and Watertown Regional Airport, some of which is subsidized by the Essential Air Service program.

Like other U.S. states, the structure of the government of South Dakota follows the same separation of powers as the federal government, with executive, legislative, and judicial branches.

The structure of the state government is laid out in the Constitution of South Dakota, the highest law in the state. The constitution may be amended by a majority vote of both houses of the legislature, or by voter initiative.

The Governor of South Dakota occupies the executive branch of the state government.

The state constitution gives the governor the power to sign into law or veto bills passed by the state legislature, to serve as commander-in-chief of the South Dakota National Guard, to appoint a cabinet, and to commute criminal sentences or to pardon those convicted of crimes.

The governor serves for a four-year term, and may not serve more than two consecutive terms.

The state legislature is made up of two bodies, the Senate, which has 35 members, and the House of Representatives, with 70 members. South Dakota is divided into 35 legislative districts,with voters electing two representatives and one senator per district.

The legislature meets for an annual session which begins on the second Tuesday in January and lasts for 30 days; it also meets if a special session is called by the governor.

The judicial branch is made up of several levels. The state supreme court, with four justices and a chief justice, is the highest court in the state.Below the supreme court are the circuit courts; 41 circuit judges serve in seven judicial circuits in the state.

Below the circuit courts are the magistrate courts, which deal with more minor criminal and civil actions.

As of 2005, South Dakota has the lowest per capita total state tax rate in the United States.The state does not levy personal or corporate income taxes,inheritance taxes,or taxes on intangible personal property.

The state sales tax rate is 4.5 percent.Various localities have local levies so in some areas the rate is 6 percent. The state sales tax does not apply to sales to Indians on Indian reservations, but many reservations have a compact with the state.

Businesses on the reservation collect the tax and the state refunds to the Indian Tribes the percentage of sales tax collections relating to the ratio of Indian population to total population in the county or area affected.

Ad valorem property taxes are local taxes and are a large source of funding for school systems, counties, municipalities and other local government units. The South Dakota Special Tax Division regulates some taxes including cigarette and alcohol-related taxes.

South Dakota is represented at the federal level by Senator John Thune, Senator Mike Rounds, and Representative Kristi Noem. All three are Republicans. South Dakota is one of seven states with only one seat in the US House of Representatives.

In United States presidential elections, South Dakota is allotted three of 538 votes in the Electoral College. As in all other states except Maine and neighboring Nebraska, South Dakota's electoral votes are granted in a winner-take-all system.

South Dakota politics are generally dominated by the Republican Party. Since statehood, Republicans have carried the state's electoral votes in all but five presidential elections: 1896, 1912 By Theodore Roosevelt's Progressive Party, 1932, 1936 and 1964.

Only Alaska has been carried fewer times by Democrat presidential candidates. Not even George McGovern, the Democratic nominee in 1972 as well as a native South Dakotan, was able to carry the state.

Additionally, a Democrat has not won the governorship since 1974. As of 2016, Republicans hold a 15% voter registration advantage over Democrats and hold large majorities in both the state House of Representatives and Senate.

Despite the state's general Republican and conservative leanings, Democrats have found success in various statewide elections, most notably in those involving South Dakota's congressional representatives in Washington.

American Indians have been becoming more active in state and county electoral politics. In the 2002 election, American Indian voting carried Tim Johnson as the Democratic candidate by a margin of 532 votes.

Until his electoral defeat in 2004, Senator Tom Daschle was the Senate minority leader and briefly its majority leader during Democratic control of the Senate in 2001–02.

In 2016, South Dakota voted for Republican nominee Donald Trump over Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton by a margin of 30%, incumbent Republican Senator John Thune won a third term against Democrat Jay Williams, and incumbent Republican congresswoman Kristi Noem defeated Democrat Paula Hawks for South Dakota's at-large seat in the US House.

Contemporary political issues in South Dakota include the costs and benefits of the state lottery, South Dakota's relatively low rankings in education spending particularly teacher pay, recently the State Sales Tax was increased from 4% to 4.5% to finance an increase in teacher pay,and recent legislative and electoral attempts to ban abortion in the state.

South Dakota's culture reflects the state's American Indian, rural, Western, and European roots. A number of annual events celebrating the state's ethnic and historical heritage take place around the state, such as Days of '76 in Deadwood,Czech Days in Tabor,and the annual St. Patrick's Day and Cinco de Mayo festivities in Sioux Falls.

The various tribes hold many annual pow wows at their reservations throughout the state, to which non-Native Americans are sometimes invited.Custer State Park holds an annual Buffalo Roundup, in which volunteers on horseback gather the park's herd of around 1,500 bison.

Black Elk (Lakota) was a medicine man and heyokha, whose life spanned the transition to reservations. His accounts of the 19th-century Indian Wars and Ghost Dance movement, and his deep thoughts on personal visions and Native American religion.

Laura Ingalls Wilder, whose semi-autobiographical books are based on her experiences as a child and young adult on the frontier, is one of South Dakota's best-known writers.

She drew from her life growing up on a homestead near De Smet as the basis for five of her novels: By the Shores of Silver Lake, The Long Winter, Little Town on the Prairie, These Happy Golden Years, and The First Four Years.

These gained renewed popularity in the United States when Little House on the Prairie was adapted and produced as a television series in the . Wilder's daughter, Rose Wilder Lane, who became a well-known writer in her own right, was born near De Smet in 1886.

South Dakota has also produced several notable artists. Harvey Dunn grew up on a homestead near Manchester in the late 19th century. While Dunn worked most of his career as a commercial illustrator, his most famous works showed various scenes of frontier life; he completed these near the end of his career.

Oscar Howe (Crow) was born on the Crow Creek Indian Reservation and won fame for his watercolor paintings.Howe was one of the first Native American painters to adopt techniques and style heavily influenced by the mid-20th century abstraction movement, rather than relying on traditional Native American styles.

Terry Redlin, originally from Watertown, is an accomplished painter of rural and wildlife scenes. Many of Redlin's works are on display at the Redlin Art Center in Watertown.

South Dakota's first newspaper, the Dakota Democrat, began publishing in Yankton in 1858.Today, the state's largest newspaper is the Sioux Falls Argus Leader, with a Sunday circulation of 63,701 and a weekday circulation of 44,334.

The Rapid City Journal, with a Sunday circulation of 32,638 and a weekday circulation of 27,827, is South Dakota's second largest newspaper. The next four largest newspapers in the state are the Aberdeen American News, the Watertown Public Opinion, the Huron Plainsman, and the Brookings Register.

In 1981, Tim Giago founded the Lakota Times as a newspaper for the local American Indian community on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. The newspaper, now published in New York and known as Indian Country Today, is available in every state in the country.

The Sioux City Journal also covers parts of South Dakota.

There are nine television stations broadcasting in South Dakota;South Dakota Public Television broadcasts from a number of locations around the state, while the other stations broadcast from Sioux Falls or Rapid City.

The two largest television media markets in South Dakota are Sioux Falls-Mitchell, with a viewership of 246,020, and Rapid City, with a viewership of 91,070.

The two markets rank as 114th and 177th largest in the United States, respectively.The state's first television station, KELO-TV, began airing in Sioux Falls in 1953.

Among KELO's early programs was Captain 11, an afternoon children's program. Captain 11 ran from 1955 until 1996, making it the nation's longest continuously running children's television program.

A number of South Dakotans are famous for their work in television and publishing. Former NBC Nightly News anchor and author Tom Brokaw is from Webster and Yankton,USA Today founder Al Neuharth was from Eureka and Alpena.

Gameshow host Bob Barker spent much of his childhood in Mission,and entertainment news hosts Pat O'Brien and Mary Hart are from Sioux Falls.

As of 2006, South Dakota has a total primary and secondary school enrollment of 136,872, with 120,278 of these students being educated in the public school system.

There are 703 public schools in 168 school districts, giving South Dakota the highest number of schools per capita in the United States.The current high school graduation rate is 89.9%,and the average ACT score is 21.8, slightly above the national average of 21.1.

89.8% of the adult population has earned at least a high school diploma, and 25.8% has earned a bachelor's degree or higher.South Dakota's 2008 average public school teacher salary of $36,674, compared to a national average of $52,308, was the lowest in the nation.

In 2007 South Dakota passed legislation modeled after Montana's Indian Education for All Act (1999), mandating education about Native American tribal history, culture, and heritage in all the schools.

From pre-school through college, in an effort to increase knowledge and appreciation about Indian culture among all residents of the state, as well as to reinforce Indian students' understanding of their own cultures' contributions.

The South Dakota Board of Regents, whose members are appointed by the governor, controls the six public universities in the state. South Dakota State University (SDSU), in Brookings, is the state's largest university, with an enrollment of 12,831.

The University of South Dakota (USD), in Vermillion, is the state's oldest university, and has South Dakota's only law school and medical school.South Dakota also has several private universities, the largest of which is Augustana College in Sioux Falls.

Because of its low population, South Dakota does not host any major league professional sports franchises. The state has minor league and independent league teams, all of which play in Sioux Falls or Rapid City.

Sioux Falls is home to four teams: the Sioux Falls Canaries (baseball), the Sioux Falls Skyforce (basketball), the Sioux Falls Stampede (hockey), and the Sioux Falls Storm (indoor American football).

The Canaries play in the American Association, and their home field is Sioux Falls Stadium. The Skyforce play in the NBA G League, and are owned by the NBA's Miami Heat.

They play at the Sanford Pentagon. The Stampede and Storm share the Denny Sanford Premier Center. The Stampede play in the USHL, and the Storm play in the CIF.

Rapid City has a hockey team named the Rapid City Rush that plays in the ECHL. The Rush began their inaugural season in 2008 at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center.

Universities in South Dakota host a variety of sports programs. For many years, South Dakota was one of the only states in the country without a NCAA Division I football or basketball team.

However, several years ago SDSU decided to move their teams from Division II to Division I, a move followed by the University of South Dakota.Other universities in the state compete at the NCAA's Division II or III levels, or in the NAIA.

Famous South Dakota athletes include Billy Mills, Mike Miller, Mark Ellis, Becky Hammon, Brock Lesnar, Chad Greenway, and Adam Vinatieri. Mills is from the town of Pine Ridge and competed at the 1964 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo, becoming the only American to win a gold medal in the 10,000-meter event.

Miller, of Mitchell, is a two-time NBA champion who played college basketball at the University of Florida, leading them to the 2000 NCAA Championship game his sophomore year, and won the 2001 NBA rookie of the year award.

Ellis, of Rapid City, played for the University of Florida and four MLB teams before retiring in 2015.

Hammon, of Rapid City, played for the WNBA's New York Liberty and San Antonio Silver Stars before becoming an assistant coach for the NBA's San Antonio Spurs in 2014.

Lesnar, of Webster, is a former heavy-weight champion in the UFC and WWE. Vinatieri is an NFL placekicker who grew up in Rapid City and attended SDSU.

Fishing and hunting are popular outdoor activities in South Dakota. Fishing contributes over $224 million to South Dakota's economy, and hunting contributes over $303 million.

In 2007, over 275,000 hunting licences and 175,000 fishing licences were sold in the state; around half of the hunting licences and over two-thirds of the fishing licences were purchased by South Dakotans.

Popular species of game include pheasants, white-tailed deer, mule deer, and turkeys, as well as waterfowl such as Canada geese, snow geese, and mallards.

Targets of anglers include walleye in the eastern glacial lakes and Missouri River reservoirs,Chinook salmon in Lake Oahe,and trout in the Black Hills.

Other sports, such as cycling and running, are also popular in the state. In 1991, the state opened the George S. Mickelson Trail, a 109-mile (175 km) rail trail in the Black Hills.

Besides being used by cyclists, the trail is also the site of a portion of the annual Mount Rushmore marathon; the marathon's entire course is at an elevation of over 4,000 feet (1,200 m).

Other events in the state include the Tour de Kota, a 478-mile (769 km), six-day cycling event that covers much of eastern and central South Dakota,and the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, which draws hundreds of thousands of participants from around the United States.

Agriculture has historically been a key component of the South Dakota economy. Although other industries have expanded rapidly in recent decades, agricultural production is still very important to the state's economy, especially in rural areas.

The five most valuable agricultural products in South Dakota are cattle, corn (maize), soybeans, wheat, and hogs.

Agriculture-related industries such as meat packing and ethanol production also have a considerable economic impact on the state. South Dakota is the sixth leading ethanol-producing state in the nation.

Another important sector in South Dakota's economy is tourism. Many travel to view the attractions of the state, particularly those in the Black Hills region, such as historic Deadwood, Mount Rushmore, and the nearby state and national parks.

One of the largest tourist events in the state is the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. The five-day event drew over 739,000 attendees in 2015; significant considering the state has a total population of 850,000.

In 2006, tourism provided an estimated 33,000 jobs in the state and contributed over two billion dollars to the economy of South Dakota

South Dakota's culture reflects the state's American Indian, rural, Western, and European roots.

A number of annual events celebrating the state's ethnic and historical heritage take place around the state, such as Days of '76 in Deadwood,Czech Days in Tabor,and the annual St. Patrick's Day and Cinco de Mayo festivities in Sioux Falls.

The various tribes hold many annual pow wows at their reservations throughout the state, to which non-Native Americans are sometimes invited.Custer State Park holds an annual Buffalo Roundup, in which volunteers on horseback gather the park's herd of around 1,500 bison.

Black Elk (Lakota) was a medicine man and heyokha, whose life spanned the transition to reservations. His accounts of the 19th-century Indian Wars and Ghost Dance movement, and his deep thoughts on personal visions and Native American religion, form the basis of the book Black Elk Speaks, first published in 1932.

Among several editions, a premier annotated edition was published in 2008.Paul Goble, an award-winning children's book author and illustrator, has been based in the Black Hills since 1977

Laura Ingalls Wilder, whose semi-autobiographical books are based on her experiences as a child and young adult on the frontier, is one of South Dakota's best-known writers.

She drew from her life growing up on a homestead near De Smet as the basis for five of her novels: By the Shores of Silver Lake, The Long Winter, Little Town on the Prairie, These Happy Golden Years, and The First Four Years.

These gained renewed popularity in the United States when Little House on the Prairie was adapted and produced as a television series in the . Wilder's daughter, Rose Wilder Lane, who became a well-known writer in her own right, was born near De Smet in 1886.

South Dakota has also produced several notable artists. Harvey Dunn grew up on a homestead near Manchester in the late 19th century.

While Dunn worked most of his career as a commercial illustrator, his most famous works showed various scenes of frontier life; he completed these near the end of his career.

Oscar Howe (Crow) was born on the Crow Creek Indian Reservation and won fame for his watercolor paintings.

Howe was one of the first Native American painters to adopt techniques and style heavily influenced by the mid-20th century abstraction movement, rather than relying on traditional Native American styles.

Terry Redlin, originally from Watertown, is an accomplished painter of rural and wildlife scenes. Many of Redlin's works are on display at the Redlin Art Center in Watertown.

South Dakota’s history is filled with rich heritage and colorful characters that include the likes of Lewis and Clark, Sitting Bull, Wild Bill Hickok, Crazy Horse and Laura Ingalls Wilder.

The land is the home of several Plains Indian tribes, including the Dakota, Lakota and Nakota-speaking people of the Great Sioux Nation.

By the early 1700s, French fur traders had extended their interests into the Upper Mississippi River basin. French Canadian explorers, Louis Joseph and Francois la Verendrye, were the first known non-Indians in what we call South Dakota.

They left a lead plate in 1743 on a bluff overlooking the Missouri River in present day Fort Pierre claiming the region for France.

This land was transferred to the United States in 1803 as part of the Louisiana Purchase, and in 1804, American explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark met with the Teton band of the Lakota people in the same vicinity.

In 1831, Pierre Chouteau, Jr. founded an American Fur Trading post in the area known as Fort Pierre. Today, the cities of Fort Pierre and Pierre (the state capital), take their names from this fort.

The discovery of gold in the Black Hills in 1874 helped fuel a population boom in the last half of the 19th century. The largest find was near the town of present day Lead – a claim that would yield gold for more than 120 years.

Deadwood was perhaps the wildest gold camp to spring from the rush, the town’s sordid early days even inspired an HBO television series. Deadwood was home to Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane, both of whom were laid to rest in Mount Moriah Cemetery, along with Sheriff Seth Bullock.

Fighting over the mineral-rich and culturally-sacred land raged between native Sioux tribes and settlers in the late 1800s. The final major conflict during the Plains Indian Wars occurred on December 29, 1890, at the Massacre of Wounded Knee, in southwest South Dakota.

During this time, pioneers and homesteaders were beginning to form South Dakota’s strong agricultural base, still prevalent in the state economy today. Little House on the Prairie author Laura Ingalls Wilder documented the pioneer spirit in her beloved books about growing up on the prairie.

Four of her six books were written about her family’s adventures in De Smet. Today, you can tour her childhood homestead and see places that inspired her classic books and a television series.

South Dakota also played a key role in the Cold War. In the 1960s, America began installing Minuteman Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles beneath western prairies.

The 44th Missile Wing at Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota operated 150 missile silos and 15 launch control facilities in the western part of the state.

Two of these sites, the Delta One Launch Control Facility and the Delta Nine Launch Facility, have been preserved as a National Historic Site to provide visitors with a unique Cold War history lesson.

South Dakota has four distinct seasons of weather, ranging from cold winters to hot summers. Temperatures can reach over 100*F (almost 40 degress Celsius) in the summer and average below freezing in the winter.

Average humidity across the state ranges from semi-arid in the northwest to semi-humid in the southeast. Summers can bring severe weather in the form of thunderstorms, but most days are clear and sunny.

Summer,Memorial Day/late May to Labor Day/early September is optimal for visiting many of the attractions in the state. However, weather can be mild in both the spring and fall months, and visiting outside of the summer season offers less traffic and opportunities for seeing spring’s first blossoms or fall’s brilliant foliage.

Very cold winter weather alternates with milder spells, and snowfall can be prevalent. December through early March is the best time to take advantage of several downhill ski areas, more than 1,500 miles of snowmobiling trails, ice fishing and other winter sports and activities.

During the summer months, South Dakota experiences approximately 15-16 hours of daylight each day. During the winter months, it averages to 9-10 hours of daylight.

South Dakota observes two different time zones: Central Time in most areas of the state east of the Missouri River, and Mountain Time in areas west of the Missouri River.

Two major interstates cross the state. Interstate 90 run east-west from Seattle, Washington to Boston, Massachusetts. Interstate 29 runs north-south from Kansas City, Missouri north to Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Additionally, federal highways running east-west include 12, 212, 14, and 18; north-south highways 85, 385, 83, 183, 281 and 81 also traverse the state.

South Dakota is served by two major airports, Sioux Falls Regional Airport (FSD), in the southeast, and Rapid City Regional Airport (RAP), in the west. Sioux Falls Regional Airport is served by United, Delta and Allegiant airlines.

Rapid City Regional is served by United, Delta and Allegiant airlines. Aberdeen, Watertown and Pierre also have scheduled commercial air service.

South Dakota is not served intercity passenger rail.

Jefferson Lines has frequent affordable connections along the state's two interstates, most frequent to Minneapolis, but also daily through the West River part of the state to Wyoming.

Mount Rushmore National Memorial, near Keystone, is known as America’s Shrine of Democracy. In 1927, sculptor Gutzon Borglum came to the Black Hills to carve his sculpture into the side of a granite mountain. Today, visitors from all over the world come to the Black Hills of South Dakota to see the four faces of Mount Rushmore National Memorial.

Crazy Horse Memorial, near Custer, is the world’s largest mountain carving in progress. The memorial is a way to honor the culture and traditions of North American Indians.

Visitors to Crazy Horse Memorial can see the progress of the mountain carving as well as tour a Native American Museum and art center on the campus of the Memorial.

Badlands National Park, in southwestern South Dakota, features 244,000 acres of sharply eroded buttes and jagged spires that create a moon-like surface.

Thousands of fossils of prehistoric creatures have been uncovered in the park. Archeological and paleontological digs continue today, with some open to public participation.

Wind Cave National Park and Jewel Cave National Monument, both in the southern Black Hills, take visitors deep beneath the surface. Wind Cave is considered one of the world’s longest and most complex caves.

Its thin calcite fins and honeycomb rock structures stand in contrast to the 28,295 acres of mixed-grass prairie, ponderosa pine forest and roaming buffalo above ground.

Jewel Cave is the second longest cave in the world at 141 miles. Its colorful calcite crystals create jewel-like formations giving the cave its name. The official length of Jewel Cave is continually growing as explorers find new passageways.

In January 2008, 476 feet of new passageways were discovered.

Custer State Park, in the southern Black Hills, is a popular family vacation spot. With nearly 1,500 free-roaming buffalo and numerous prairie dogs, deer, bighorn sheep, pronghorns and burros, visitors can experience wildlife in a natural setting.

The park also offers mountain lakes for swimming and fishing, dozens of trails for hiking and mountain biking, as well as several lodges and campsites.

For visitors looking to take a scenic drive, Needles Highway and Iron Mountain Road offer spectacular views, unique rock tunnels and winding pigtail bridges.

The Black Hills National Forest is 1.2 million acres of pine and spruce forest, granite peaks and outdoor adventure. An area of granite spires, known as the Needles, provides challenging rock climbing opportunities.

The 114-miles George S. Mickelson Trail, part of the state park system, has gentle slopes and converted railroad bridges that take bikers and hikers from Deadwood in the northern Black Hills to Edgemont in the south.

Harney Peak, in the Black Elk Wilderness Area, at an elevation of 7,242 feet is the highest point in the U.S. east of the Rocky Mountains.

The Minuteman Missile National Historic Site is located near Badlands National Park.

The Delta One Launch Control Facility and the Delta Nine Launch Facility were ideal for long-term preservation because they were among the nation’s oldest – with technology dating back to the Cuban Missile Crisis in the 1960s.

Only minor modifications have been made to the deactivated sites, and much of the original mechanical equipment and historic furnishings remain intact.

The Missouri River cuts through the center of South Dakota, dividing it roughly into eastern and western halves, and then forms some of the border between South Dakota and Nebraska.

The Missouri National Recreational River protects two stretches of the river in the southeastern part of the state; 39 miles from Fort Randall Dam to Running Water and 59 miles from Gavins Point Dam to Nebraska’s Ponca State Park.

These sections of the river are the least affected by the four dams in South Dakota, and offer unique landscapes and ecosystems.

The entire Missouri River provides countless opportunities for boating, fishing, canoeing and kayaking. Visitors can also camp, bird watch and hike along the river.

There are nearly 60 state parks and recreation areas in South Dakota. They offer numerous opportunities to experience the state, from an outdoor and recreational perspective to an historic one.

Among them, Fort Sisseton Historic State Park, in the northeast corner, was a frontier army outpost in 1864 and is still home to 14 of the original buildings.

Lewis and Clark Recreation Area, near Yankton, and Farm Island Recreation Area, near Pierre, are two of numerous state parks located on the shores of the Missouri River and offer many camping, fishing, swimming, boating and hiking opportunities.

The Mitchell Prehistoric Indian Village, located in Mitchell, is the only archaeological site open to the public in South Dakota. It holds a dual status of a National Register and a National Historic property.

It is a northern plains village dating to approximately A.D. 1,000. Visit the Boehnen Memorial Museum with its artifact displays and a full-size reconstruction of an earthen lodge.

The Thomsen Center Archeodome is where the dig site is located. Archaeologists from the University of Exeter, England and Augustana College, Sioux Falls, are present each summer to continue excavations. There are plenty of hands-on activities for children and adults.

Sturgis, a.k.a. Motorcycle City, USA, is home of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally every summer.

Part of the state lies in the country's tornado alley, and its geographical location makes it prone to very violent thunderstorms during the spring and summer seasons.

These thunderstorms, most often, will produce hail squalls and damaging winds. On occasion, they have also been known to spawn small scale tornadoes. Despite this being a rarity, and their small scale, they can still cause significant damage and endanger an unprepared traveler.

Travelers to and through the state, particularly its central and eastern regions, during the spring/summer seasons should pay attention to weather conditions because they have the tendency to change very rapidly.

South Dakota is infamous for its brutal winter storms. Blizzards and freak snow squalls are not uncommon in either of the Dakotas during the winter months, and therefore, a traveler should be advised.

As with any severe weather situation, keep yourself up to date on the latest weather conditions if you are planning to travel to or through the state during the winter season.

Wild animals are called that for a reason, and South Dakota residents all know at least one story of a person being attacked because they ignored repeated warnings about getting too close.

While centered mostly around the southwest part of the state, Bison are best viewed from the car or from a distance, do not approach them. They look slow, but they can cover a good distance in short time.

Prairie dogs may be cute and fun to watch, but don't let your kids try to pet them. They will bite.

Also, mosquitoes in South Dakota are simply out of control. They bite through clothes and mark their territory on skin, a few inches of diameter at a time.

Mosquito bites acquired in South Dakota remain red and swollen for a few days. It is crucial, although practically impossible, that you refrain from scratching them.

If you feel you absolutely must do so, however, opt for alcohol on a piece of cotton applied to your war wounds before giving in to temptation, as doing so might alleviate the agitation and leave you with a somewhat cool sensation on your skin.

Do not take a walk in the park without having sprayed some kind of mosquito repellent.

North Dakota - South Dakota's sibling to the north is America's least visited state, but its isolation provides opportunities for uncrowded visits to the state's hills and lakes, badlands, plains, and old frontier forts.

Minnesota - Known for cold winters and its ten thousand lakes, South Dakota's eastern neighbor is an ideal destination for wilderness enthusiasts and shoppers destined for the Twin Cities and Mall of America.

Iowa - Rural Iowa is South Dakota's southeastern neighbor and provides the opportunity to explore America's agricultural heartland.

Nebraska - South Dakota's southern neighbor has a rich agricultural heritage, offering visitors a glimpse into America's heartland.

Wyoming - Located to South Dakota's west, Wyoming is home to most of the landmass of Yellowstone National Park and provides an excellent opportunity to experience America's cowboy heritage.

Montana - South Dakota's northwestern neighbor is often called Big Sky Country for its famed big, blue skies, but the amazing natural landscape varies from the flat regions to the East and the towering peaks of the Rocky Mountains in the West.



Tourism Observer