Do you have family or ancestors in South Dakota? This is a state with rich historical, cultural and natural elements for you to consider as you plan for your next destination as a heritage tourist. Let’s consider some of the possibilities.
Of course, most of us think first of Mount Rushmore when we think of South Dakota. That is very appropriate, but there is so much more to experience on your visit to South Dakota, depending on your interests, of course. Did you realize that gold was discovered in the Black Hills in 1874 during a military expedition led by George A. Custer? Yes, that Custer! P.S. The litigation regarding the Lakota who owned the land where gold was discovered was not settled until 1980 when the U.S. Supreme Court ordered payment for the illegal seizure of the Black Hills.
Part of the 1803 Louisiana Purchase, South Dakota was crossed by the Lewis and Clark Expedition. In 1817, an American fur trading post was set up at present-day Fort Pierre, beginning continuous American settlement of the area. South Dakota has seven large Indian reservations. The four largest ancestry groups in South Dakota are German (40.7%), Norwegian (15.35), Irish (10.4%), and Native American (8.3%).
De Smet, South Dakota, also known as the “Little Town on the Prairie,” was made famous by author Laura Ingalls Wilder. You can visit the Ingalls Homestead where Laura wrote many of her Little House stories about the land. They recommend you “Plan an old-fashioned family day!” Will you?
I recently created a website: “South Dakota Heritage Tourism,” that I commend to your review. It includes additional sites, links and references you may find useful in your planning. When would be a good time for you to plan to visit South Dakota as a heritage tourist?
© Dr. Bill Smith 2013
Dr. Smith is also author of the family saga novel, “Back to the Homeplace,” set in a rural community in the southern Missouri Ozarks, drawn from his family history and genealogy passions and life experiences. He is also the author of The Heritage Tourist, a monthly column in The In-Depth Genealogist which focuses on the social context of travel and history when applied to our genealogy. Dr. Bill can be found blogging at Dr. Bill Tells Ancestor Stories.