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Last year of Dakota Territory Being Discussed at Cultural Heritage Center

The story of South Dakota’s last year before statehood will be told through newspaper accounts during a program at the Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre.

Humanities scholars Joyce Jefferson of Rapid City, Belinda Joe of Fort Thompson and Lil Witt of Gordon, Neb., will present the program “The Year from Dakota Territory to South Dakota” at 7 p.m. CDT on Tuesday, Oct. 14.

“South Dakota became a state on Nov. 2, 1889. Attending this program is a great way to celebrate the state’s 125th birthday, as we’ll learn how newspapers reported events leading to South Dakota being admitted to the Union,” said Michael Lewis, president of the South Dakota Historical Society Foundation. The foundation is the nonprofit fundraising partner of the South Dakota State Historical Society.

Everyone is welcome to attend the free program hosted by the foundation and the As the Pages Turn Book Club in Pierre. The program is made possible by the South Dakota Humanities Council, an affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Among the newspapers the women read to learn about the last year of Dakota Territory were The Canton Advocate, The Black Hills Daily and The Black Hills Weekly Times.

“I thought it would be interesting to read the early-day newspapers to see what was going on at the time,” said Jefferson, who is known for her storytelling and interpretation of South Dakota history.

While many people enjoy learning about history, not everyone has the time for research, Witt said.

“Looking through old newspapers and other written articles can be time consuming, intense and overwhelming,” Witt said. “Therefore, I hope that the articles I find and relate to others can, in some way, help to enrich their lives with information they might not otherwise be able to get.”

After the program, staff from the South Dakota State Historical Society-State Archives will give a short presentation about newspaper resources contained in the State Archives.

For more information about the program, please call (605) 773-6006.