Date of Statehood: November 2, 1889
Population: 814,180 (2010)
Size: 77,116 square miles
Nickname(s): Mount Rushmore State
Motto: Under God, the People Rule
Tree: Black Hills Spruce
Bird: Chinese Ring-necked Pheasant
- In 1874, a military expedition into the Lakota-owned Black Hills led by General George Armstrong Custer confirmed the existence of gold. Although the mission violated the 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie, which had guaranteed the Sioux rights to their sacred territory and established the Great Sioux Reservation, the area was flooded by thousands of miners, triggering the Black Hills War of 1876.
- The original design for Mount Rushmore National Memorial included Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt from head to waist, but Sculptor Gutzon Borglum, who had begun work on the monument in 1927, died before the work was completed, in 1941, and Congress cut off funding as the nation became faced with World War I.
- A memorial to the Lakota leader Crazy Horse in South Dakota’s Black Hills is designed to be the largest statue in the world when it is completed. Dedicated by sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski and Lakota Chief Henry Standing Bear on June 3, 1948, the mountain carving will extend 563 feet high and 641 feet long. In June 1998, Crazy Horse’s 87-foot head was completed.
- On February 27, 1973, members of the American Indian Movement (AIM) occupied a trading post at Wounded Knee, South Dakota, in protest over corruption within the Oglala Lakota’s Tribal Council and Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA). The Siege at Wounded Knee, as it became known, lasted 71 days and resulted in the deaths of two Indians following the daily gunfire between AIM members and federal officers.
- Agriculture is South Dakota’s top industry, generating one-third of the state’s overall economic activity. Although its main crops are corn, soybeans, wheat and hay, South Dakota leads the nation in the production of bison and pheasants. Ninety-eight percent of the state’s farms are family owned and operated.
- Badlands National Park covers 244,000 acres and contains one of the world’s richest fossil beds.