When the Quiltfolk team set out to explore the sweeping landscapes of South Dakota (or SoDak, if you’re in the know), we had some expectations. We knew we were in for some epic scenery, from expansive plains to the winding canyons of the Black Hills to the spikes of the Badlands. We also knew we’d find a deep well of history at the state capital in Pierre, with its trail of governors, and at the Crazy Horse Memorial in Custer County, or in the Wild West town of Deadwood. And we knew we’d find some interesting spots too. Who doesn’t want to visit a Corn Palace in a land where corn reigns?
What we didn’t expect was the wind. We had an idea of what it would be like, sure. But we were traveling in June, so we thought it wouldn’t be too intense, right? When we say we were “swept away” by South Dakota’s beauty, we mean that pretty literally. We certainly aren’t lacking in shots of quilts wafting in the breeze.
South Dakota officially became a state in November 1889, simultaneously with North Dakota. President Benjamin Harrison actually shuffled the statehood papers before signing them, so no one could tell which became a state first.
However, long before that moment, the Lakota and Dakota Sioux Native American tribes inhabited the lands, eventually becoming the area’s dominant population. It wasn’t until the late 19th century that European-American settlement intensified after a gold rush in the Black Hills and the construction of railroads from the east. Over the next several decades, South Dakota would struggle through major events like the Wounded Knee Massacre, the Dust Bowl, and of course, the Great Depression. Economic stability returned when the US entered World War II, and demand for the state’s agricultural and industrial products grew as the nation mobilized for war. In recent years, South Dakota has been transformed from a state dominated by agriculture to one with a more diversified economy, thanks to the considerable growth of tourism.
The state’s history is as unique and fascinating as its landscapes—and unsurprisingly, so are its people, who you’re about to discover on our pages. South Dakota has had many nicknames over the years, but our favorite is probably “The Land of Plenty”: plenty of history, plenty of views, and plenty of remarkable quilts and quiltmakers.
So come get swept away with us in the stunning state of South Dakota.
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