Skip links

South Dakota (Sd): State Guide and Fun Facts


When did South Dakota become a state?
November 1889

Who was the first explorer in South Dakota?
Pierre Gaultier de Varenne, sieur de la Verendrye

First Native American settlers:
Arikaras, Mandans, Crows, Cheyenne, Lakota, Nakota, Dakota and Pawnee Native Americans

Square Miles:
77,121

US Rank:
17th

State Flower:
Pasque Flower

State Bird:
Ring-Necked Pheasant

State Motto:
Under God, the People Rule

Capital City

Pierre
Pierre is centrally located within the state of South Dakota. It was founded in 1880, and was the state’s first and only capital city when South Dakota became a state in November of 1889. According to the US Census estimate from 2009, the population of Pierre was only 14,072 people, making it the second smallest (in population) state capital in the country, after Montpelier, Vermont, which only have 7,705 residents according to the 2000 census.

The primary economy in Pierre is centered around governmental operations.

 

What is South Dakota famous for?

1. Crazy Horse Memorial
The Crazy Horse Memorial is currently under construction in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Its history has been a long time in the making. The sculpture was originally commissioned in 1948 and sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski began work on the project. Chief Henry Standing Bear was the dreamer behind the project. He expressed his desire for a monument that showed a Native American hero, as a sort of response to Mount Rushmore. Ziolkowski died in 1982, but the carving continues, carried on by the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation. Sculptors have not set a date of completion, but it will be decades before the statue is fully realized.

2. Mount Rushmore
Mount Rushmore was completed in 1941 when funding for the project ran out. It was originally conceived by Doane Robinson, a historian who lived in South Dakota. He commissioned Gutzon Borglum to be the head sculptor on the project. Construction began in 1927. Gutzon worked on the project from 1927 until 1941, completing each of the four presidential faces (George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln). Borglum died in 1941, and which time his son Lincoln Borglum took over where his father left off. His sculpting was short lived however, because funding for the project ran out in October of the same year.
Today, Mount Rushmore is owned and controlled by the National Park Service. Although it was not completed to its original intent, with each presidentdepicted to the waistline, it still attracts millions each year.

3. Corn Palace
The Corn Palace, located in Mitchell, South Dakota, was constructed in 1921, designed by Rapp and Rapp, an architecture firm based in Chicago, Illinois. The exterior of the palace is its most exquisite feature. Each year, the outside of the building is covered in elaborately produced corn and grain murals, with designs and pictures depicted all over the building’s exterior facades.

In addition to attracting tourists each year, the Corn Palace hosts a variety of events for the town and surrounding area, including basketball games for high schools and colleges in South Dakota.

What is South Dakota’s economy?

1. Agriculture
The agriculture of South Dakota is highly dependent on certain crops and livestock. The most important livestock raised in the state are beef cattle, hogs and sheep. The animals are also used for the production of eggs, milk and other dairy products. South Dakota is a leading grower of grain, corn, soybeans and wheat.

2. Manufacturing
The leading manufacturers in South Dakota produce goods such as computer products and parts, food, meat, poultry, dairy and flour. Secondary manufacturers produce machinery, metal products and transportation equipment.

3. Services
The services industry in South Dakota is highly based on financial firms, real estate agencies, personal services, health care companies, law firms, motels, repair shots, wholesale trade and retail trade.

 

South Dakota Historical Landmarks

1. Deadwood
The town of Deadwood was first settled in the 1870s. The population, according to the 2009 census was 1,380 residents. The town itself became well known throughout the country when it became the place where James Butler Hickok (also known as Wild Bill Hickok) was killed. Hickok was a sharpshooter and a professional gambler. He traveled around the country gambling and getting himself into sticky situations that he always seemed to be able to escape.

However, on August 2, 1876, Wild Bill was playing poker at the Nuttal & Mann’s Saloon, located in Deadwood, when John McCall walking into the establishment and shot Hickok in the back of the head. No one is sure what the motive for the killing was, although some speculate that Hickok killed McCall’s older brother, and McCall was avenging his sibling’s murder.

2. Verendrye Site
The Verendrye Site is located in present day Fort Pierre, South Dakota. The land was not established as such when it was visited by the first explorers to South Dakota. The Verendrye brothers were the first two to cross through present day South Dakota, and when they did so, it is said that they buried a lead plate beneath a pile of stones in order to mark their happening upon the area. The site was added to the National Register of Historic Places on August 7, 1974.

3. Fort Pierre Choteau
Although it is only an open field now, the Fort Pierre Chouteau Site is the area where the former Fort Pierre Chouteau was located. The fort was responsible for acting as a trading post beginning in 1832. It was the largest one in the Great Plains of the United States in its time, and was essential to the success of the fur trading business in the northern United States during the 19th century.

Additional Resources