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South Dakota

State History

Native Americans

The land that is today South Dakota has been inhabited by people for thousands of years. The Arikara peoples dominated the land up until the 1700s when the Sioux arrived. The three main tribes of the Sioux were the Lakota, the Eastern Dakota, and the Western Dakota. The Sioux were a nomadic people who lived in teepees and followed the bison herds. Hunting bison played an important role in Sioux life providing food, clothing, and shelter.


Mount Rushmore
Mount Rushmore

Europeans Arrive

The French explorers Francois and Louis-Joseph de La Verendrye were the first Europeans to arrive in South Dakota in 1743. They claimed the land for France. Fur traders moved into the land to take advantage of the valuable fur trade with the local Native American tribes.

Louisiana Purchase

South Dakota became a part of the United States when the United States purchased the Louisiana Territory from France in 1803 for $15 million. The American explorers Lewis and Clark made their way across South Dakota in 1804, mapping out the land for U.S. President Thomas Jefferson. In 1817, the first permanent European settlement was established at Fort Pierre by Joseph La Framboise.

In the late 1800s much of the land began to be settled by homesteaders looking to farm the land. The government would give people 160 acres of land as long as they built a house and lived there for five years.


Bison
American Bison (buffalo) by Jack Dykinga

Wounded Knee Massacre

There were conflicts with the Sioux Indians over the land as more and more settlers arrived. Various treaties were signed, but settlers didn't always abide by the treaties, especially when gold was discovered in the Black Hills in 1874. The last of the battles between the U.S. and the Sioux was the Wounded Knee Massacre in 1890 when several Sioux women and children were also killed during the battle.

Becoming a State

Before 1889, South Dakota was a part of the Dakota Territory. On November 2, 1889, the territory was split in half and both North and South Dakota were admitted as the 39th and 40th states.

End of the Buffalo

Before 1800, there were millions of American bison living in South Dakota. During the 1800s bison were hunted by the millions. By 1900 the American bison was almost extinct with less than 1000 thought to be left alive. Some estimates are that nearly 60 million bison were slaughtered. Today the bison has survived and the population has been restored to several hundred thousand.


Badlands National Park
Badlands National Park by Colin Faulkingham

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Works Cited

History >> US Geography >> US State History





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