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State Historical Society announces Governor’s Awards for History

The South Dakota State Historical Society is recognizing four individuals and two organizations with 2020 Governor’s Awards for History for their efforts in preserving state history.  

 The award winners include Michael Runge of Deadwood, Pat Roseland of Rapid City, Robert J. Cordts of Madison, Steven J. Bucklin of Vermillion, Reliabank of Watertown and the Fall River County Historical Society of Hot Springs. 

  “These people and organizations represent the best of our state,” said Governor Kristi Noem. “Through their efforts, South Dakota history will be preserved for future generations.”  

  “We are pleased to give out these awards,” said Jay D. Vogt, director of the State Historical Society at the Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre. “These are just a few of the shining examples of how people across the state are helping us in our efforts to promote, nurture, and sustain South Dakota history.” 

  Runge is an individual award winner. As city archivist for the Deadwood Historic Preservation Office, Runge is responsible for the proper care, documentation, maintenance, and storage of the countless numbers of historic documents and archaeological collections pertaining to Deadwood history. Every year Runge shares that history through educational programs with Lead-Deadwood Elementary School students. 

Roseland is also an individual award winner. His special love for the history of Rapid City and the Black Hills has led him to compile a collection of more than 500 pieces of historic art of the area. He also has large collections of books and photographs of the area, which he shares with other researchers interested in local history. Roseland has served or is serving on several historical committees in Rapid City, and he co-authored the book “Rapid City: Historic Downtown Architecture.” 

  Cordts is the 2020 History Teacher of the Year. He is the history teacher at Madison High School, where he has spent 18 of his 26 years in the field. Cordts’ excitement for history is said to be palpable and tangible in his every lecture and activity. A prime example of this is his Native American Studies course, where he familiarizes students with the rich culture and traditions of the various tribes in the state. Cordts said he can’t think of anything that he would rather be doing with his life than teaching. In addition to teaching his students history, Cordts said it’s also important to teach them citizenship and leadership skills. 

  Bucklin, a history professor at the University of South Dakota, is the recipient of the 2020 Herbert S. Schell Award for the best article in Volume 49 of “South Dakota History,” the State Historical Society’s award-winning quarterly journal. The Schell Award is named for Herbert S. Schell, a historian and long-time USD professor. Bucklin’s article, “Working on the Railroad: A History of the South Dakota Core Rail System,” appeared in the Spring 2019 issue of the journal. In his article, Bucklin focuses on the efforts of Governor William J. Janklow and other state officials during the early 1980s to keep state railroads running to the rest of the country. 

  Reliabank is an organizational winner and is celebrating 100 years of doing business in 2020. Reliabank, under the direction of David and Jan Johnson, has been involved in several historic-preservation projects in the Watertown area, including the First State Bank of Hazel, now known as Reliabank of Hazel, which was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1997. The bank pledged $250,000 to Friends of Goss Opera House Main Hall, to be renamed Reliabank Hall, and the bank has facilitated loans for a revolving loan program for Historic South Dakota. 

  The Fall River County Historical Society, a second organizational winner, is being recognized for all the work its members do in preserving the history of Fall River County. The society maintains the Pioneer Museum in Hot Springs, originally a school house built of local sandstone in 1893. Only the first three floors of the building are currently being used, but plans are for the fourth floor to be remodeled and turned into an art gallery. The society collects and preserves historical objects, stories, and photographs of Fall River County and displays them in the museum. 

 About the South Dakota State Historical Society
The South Dakota State Historical Society is a division of the Department of Education. 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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