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Rivers to be discussed at 2013 History Conference

Rivers, which have played an important role in South Dakota history, will be the theme of the 2013 South Dakota State Historical Society History Conference, to be held May 3-4 at the Hilton Garden Inn in Rapid City.

“Rivers Run Through It: South Dakota’s Rivers and Streams and the Flow of History” will be hosted by the society’s Archaeological Research Center in Rapid City.

Conference speakers will discuss the role of rivers, both as conduits and barriers, on the history and cultural development of South Dakota and the region. Lawrence H. Larsen, professor emeritus of history at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and Barbara J. Cottrell with the National Archives at Kansas City will discuss travel on the Missouri River based on their book, Steamboats West: The 1859 American Fur Company Missouri River Expedition.

Among the topics to be covered are the role of rivers in the development of ancient societies in South Dakota, Sacajawea and the Lewis and Clark Expedition, railroads and the rivers, and, of course, floods – including information on the 1952 Pierre flood, the 1972 Rapid City flood, and the 2011 Missouri River flood. Other confirmed speakers include Nathan Hitchcock, Craig Johnson, Michael L. Lawson, Rick Mills, Brad Tennant and Lonis Wendt.

“Anybody interested in how water has affected our history should be interested in this program,” said Jay D. Vogt, director of the State Historical Society. “We especially hope that Black Hills-area history buffs attend, because the conference is only in Rapid City every five years.”

The conference will also include the results of the annual election of the State Historical Society board of trustees and the winners of the Governor’s Awards for History.

Anyone is welcome to attend the conference, although State Historical Society members receive a discount. For more information or to register, visit or call (605) 773-6000.

The South Dakota State Historical Society is a division of the Department of Tourism. The Department of Tourism is comprised of Tourism, the South Dakota Arts Council, and the State Historical Society. The Department is led by Secretary James D. Hagen. The State Historical Society, an Affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, is headquartered at the South Dakota Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre. The center houses the society’s world-class museum, the archives, and the historic preservation, publishing and administrative/development offices. Call (605) 773-3458 or visit for more information. The society also has an archaeology office in Rapid City; call (605) 394-1936 for more information.

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