Wagon train to be part of South Dakota’s 125th anniversary
By Chet Brokaw
PIERRE — South Dakota’s celebration of its 125th anniversary of statehood will include a wagon train that will travel from Yankton to Pierre in September, members of a panel planning the celebration said Friday.
The celebration is expected to end with an event in Pierre on Nov. 2. South Dakota and North Dakota were both granted statehood on Nov. 2, 1889.
The planning commission appointed by South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard worked Friday to put the finishing touches on its recommendations for the celebration. The commission came up with a report that ranks proposed events and other activities in terms of priority, and recommends the governor do as many as possible after considering the availability of money and volunteers.
The top-rated item recommends that Daugaard invite American Indian tribes to suggest how they want to take part in the anniversary of statehood.
Many of the events for the yearlong celebration will be organized by local communities. Mike Mueller of the state Bureau of Administration said the ending event in Pierre has not yet been planned.
The wagon train, organized by Gerald Kessler of rural Fort Pierre, will start Sept. 3 in Yankton and follow an old trail that runs to Mitchell and Pierre. Presentations on history will be given each evening along the trail until the ride ends Sept. 20 in Pierre.
Daugaard and North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple plan to take part in events in each other’s state.
The celebration will be funded by donations and licensing fees from commercial use of South Dakota’s 125th anniversary logo.
Some of the highest ranked ideas in the commission report include promoting the State Historical Society’s traveling exhibits in communities around South Dakota, creating a guideline for local students to use in writing local histories and using any leftover money for history scholarships and other long-term projects.
“We’re trying to get local people involved to do things. We’re enablers and encouragers to try to get local activities done throughout the year,” said Jim Soyer, an aide to the governor who worked with the commission.
The report also recommends creation of an American Indian legacy project that would involve cooperation by the state, South Dakota’s nine tribes and nine cities.
Each tribe would pick a great tribal leader from the past, and a statue of that leader would be placed in a city to help teach American Indian history to students and tourists.