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New issue of “South Dakota History” explores pioneering filmmaker

A legendary South Dakota filmmaker is the highlight of the latest issue of “South Dakota History,” the quarterly journal of the South Dakota State Historical Society.

African American filmmaker and author Oscar Micheaux, along with the military career of George McGovern, and Rev. Edward Ashley’s campaign to ban peyote use in the state are highlighted in the issue.

Author Sara Gallagher’s article “Oscar Micheaux and the South Dakota Frontier in Print and Cinema” examines the career of Micheaux who drew inspiration from his time as a homesteader in Gregory, South Dakota, in the early twentieth century. Micheaux’s artistic endeavors highlighted the possibilities the western frontier held for African Americans while also underscoring the unique challenges they faced in the region.

“The McGovern War Years: Reporting by Daryl ‘Bud’ Lembke, 1972–1973” explores an unpublished piece written by a reporter who researched Sen. George McGovern’s World War II career during his 1972 presidential run. Laurie Langland, who serves as the archivist for Dakota Wesleyan University (DWU), introduces a manuscript that Los Angeles Times reporter Daryl Lembke submitted to the Atlantic Monthly about his experience reporting on McGovern’s service record.

In “Reverend Edward Ashley’s 1923 Campaign to Ban Peyote in South Dakota,” Richmond Clow describes how a prominent Episcopalian missionary fought to end the ceremonial smoking of peyote in Native American Church ceremonies across the state. Edward Ashley, who previously championed the free exercise of religion among American Indians in South Dakota, believed that peyote use had negative social consequences and feared that the practice reflected a surge in fundamentalist sentiment on the reservations.

Museum hours at the Cultural Heritage Center are 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. CDT/9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. MDT Monday through Saturday and 1-4:30 p.m. CDT/12-3:30 p.m. MDT on Sundays. “South Dakota History” is a benefit of membership in the South Dakota State Historical Society. For information on memberships, call 605-773-6000.

The South Dakota State Historical Society, a division of the Department of Education, is headquartered at the South Dakota Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre. The center houses the society’s world-class museum, which is free to South Dakota residents, the state archives, historic preservation office, publishing, and administrative 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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