If you’ve seen the terrain in “Dances with Wolves” then you know the rolling hills of western
. If you followed Nicolas Cage in “National Treasure, Book of Secrets” or Cary Grant in “North by Northwest” to Mount Rushmore, then you’ve been to South Dakota’s Black Hills.Speaking of South Dakota films, a few decades ago two famous residents of Deadwood, Calamity Jane and Wild Bill Hickok, were portrayed in a rather “unhistoric” way by Doris Day and Howard Keel. Hickock was a gambler who may or may not have had a romantic relationship with the rough and tumble Calamity Jane. He was killed in Deadwood in 1876 while playing poker, holding “aces and eights.” Today Deadwood, South Dakota , located in the South Dakota Black Hills, is still a favorite stop for gamblers, and most of them, I believe, have better luck than Hickok did.
Not far from Deadwood is Sturgis, where, every August, hundreds of thousands of motorcyclists arrive to participate in the annual bike rally.
Western South Dakota from the badlands to the Black Hills, to the sprawling range land filled with antelope, prairie dogs, ferrets, coyotes, deer, fox and a variety of game birds is an open land everyone should see--at least in film if not in person.
Gold was discovered in the
Black Hills in 1874, and a rush to cash in on a fortune took place soon after. A few years later, immigrants from Europe and Americans who relocated to the Dakota Territory and discovered another kind of gold--wheat. Homesteaders quickly learned the rich black earth in the eastern flatlands was some of the best soil in the world for growing wheat. South Dakota
Long before European and American settlers came to
to seek their fortunes the land was inhabited by several tribes of native peoples. The Dakota and Yankton Sioux, the Arikara, South Dakota , Ponca and Lakota Sioux nations survived the challenging elements living off the produce of the land and wild game such as buffalo, deer and antelope. Cheyenne
Having grown up in
and having lived there during part of my adult life, I don’t know how the native peoples or the early settlers survived the harsh winters. The cold and snow are trials even now when all we need do to be warm is turn up the thermostat. South Dakota
On the other hand, having taken in the beauty of the various landscapes, having enjoyed the peace, seen the magnificent sunsets, worked the black soil, harvested the rich produce of the land, I know what kept and continues to keep people staying on or settling in South Dakota anew.
is a modern state in every sense of the word. If they have it in South Dakota , we have it in New York City --except, of course, for skyscrapers, traffic, an ocean and a state income tax. Instead of an ocean we have the great South Dakota Missouri River. Instead of concrete skyscrapers we have majestic pines and the Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse monuments soaring toward the heavens.
But what about the symphony, authors and artists, you say? The growing, desirable city of
is home to the South Dakota Symphony, and it offers many cultural activities as do most cities in Sioux Falls . Author L. Frank Baum (The Wizard of Oz), who lived in South Dakota , is fondly remembered by the city in their whimsical Aberdeen . Desmet hosts a pageant each year paying tribute to author Laura Ingalls Wilder (the “Little House” series) who lived in that area. The opulent Storybook Land in Redlin Art Center features many original oil paintings by beloved artist Terry Redlin. (His “ Watertown the Beautiful” series is exquisite.) America
Unless you’re looking for palm trees or an ocean, South Dakota has just about everything anyone could want including some of the best fishing and hunting in the country, scenic dams, spring lilacs, apple orchards, grain fields, buttes, glacial lakes, top-notch universities and medical facilities and even a very famous palace--a corn palace. The
in Mitchell sports beautiful frescos made of corn, grains and native grasses. Corn Palace
People frequently enjoy the rich history of the native peoples and early settlers in a multitude of
museums. South Dakota in Prairie Village and Madison in Centennial Village offer visitors the opportunity to walk through 19th Century towns. Many places in the Aberdeen Black Hills encourage tourists to experience the authentic Old West. If you’d like to visit , but you can’t do it in person then please get to know this land through movies or books. South Dakota
My “Heart Junction Series,” set in early 20th Century South Dakota, consists of “Laura’s Lost Love,” “Stephanie’s Surprise,” and “Mari’s Miracle.” These classic love stories give readers insight into life as it existed a hundred years ago on the eastern plains of
. HJ Series books are available in paperback and e-book on the Internet, at libraries and through bookstores. You’ll find them in a museum too sometimes. South Dakota