South Dakota is located in the north west of the USA and measures about 199,731 km2. The state houses several Native American reservations, particularly the Lakota Indians. South Dakota ranks 4 regarding the highest share of the Native American population. The name Dakota derived from the Indian culture of the Dakota Indians, which lived in that area before they were oppressed by the Whites. The nickname of South Dakota is “The Mount Rushmore State”. Mount Rushmore is a mountain of the Black Hills. The mountain range was named after the New York attorney Charles Rushmore, who did obtain the rights to collect gold.
The Mount Rushmore National Memorial presents four monumental heads of the most famous and symbolic US presidents. Every portrait measures 60 feet in height. Starting from the left side you will be able to see George Washington (1930) Thomas Jefferson (1936), Theodore Roosevelt (1939) and Abraham Lincoln (1937). In front of the heads there are stones tablets displaying excerpts from famous speeches. The memorial is also known by the name “Shrine of Democracy”. However the Lakota Indians consider it to be a desecration of their holy mountain. Close by the Crazy Horse Memorial is located, which is a sculpture for memorizing the Oglala-Lakota Indian Crazy Horse. The Crazy Horse Memorial is still under construction, although being worked on since 1948 by Korczak Ziolkowski.
After the division of Dakota in 1889, South Dakota joined the USA as 40th state. 29th December 1890 the 7thUS cavalry massacred about 300 Minneconjou-Lakota-Sioux-Indians close to Wounded Knee, among them men, women and children. This event broke the resistance of the Native Americans against the Whites. Members of the Indian Resistance Organization from the Pine-Ridge-Reservation occupied Wounded Knee and announced it to be an independent Oglala nation on 27th February 1973.
Despite the historical happenings the state offers great possibilities for nature lovers. The wide and free countryside of South Dakota has its own special charm, which can’t be experienced in other regions since the nature and landscape is mostly untouched.
The Badlands national park is located in the southwest of South Dakota. The name derives from a form of weathered land (bad land), which is defective for the agriculture. Additionally the national park contains protected grass plains, diggings of fossils like prehistoric horses, sheep, pigs and rhinos and 11,000 years old human findings. The national park was declared national memorial in 1939 and announced national park in 1978. The movie “Dances with Wolves“ (starring: Kevin Costner) was shot in the area of the Badland national park. One further attraction is the WindCaveNational Park, 200 km away. Scientists discovered one of the longest caves in the world. The cave is also known for the so called “Boxwork”, calcium formations which spread out like honeycombs do.
For further information please visit the official website of South Dakota.