The Badlands is one of my hands down favorite places in South Dakota. There are plenty of places that I love, but what I enjoy the most about Badlands National Park is there is always a new place to discover. It really isn’t surprising that you can find something new each time as the park spans 244,000 acres! The rugged beauty of the park combined with the incredible feeling of being on another planet is thrilling.

When I heard the Badlands Astronomy Festival was returning, I knew it was something that everyone must know about. The festival will bring together space science professionals, amateur astronomers, South Dakota residents, and likely, many visitors from afar. The event is happening July 25-27. The celebration will take place over three days and with provide education programs and hands-on experiences.

To me, enjoying the night sky and celebrating the captivating beauty of our planet and the system above us in the Badlands is the perfect combination. Another cool thing about the festival is that it will not require any advance tickets or registration.

If you’re planning on being in South Dakota and near the area during this time frame, I would highly recommend checking this festival out – unless it’s completely down-pouring, I doubt you’ll be disappointed. On any given night in the Badlands, you can expect to see more than 7,500 stars – pretty spectacular – especially for visitors who may live in a large city and rarely see any stars at night!

For more information on the event, please visit their webpage.


The fourth season of free weekly tours at the South Dakota Governor’s Mansion will begin next month.

First Lady Linda Daugaard said she and the Governor are happy to again open the home on the shore of Capitol Lake to the public.

“The Governor’s mansion belongs to the people of South Dakota, and Dennis and I invite every South Dakotan to enjoy this special home,” Mrs. Daugaard said. “We are pleased to host a fourth year of summer tours, and will have some special items on display in honor of the state’s 125th anniversary this year.”


Beginning June 4, weekly public tours will be conducted each Wednesday in June, July and August.

The 30-minute tours will begin at 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. CDT and will be conducted by volunteers, including the First Lady. Tour groups will consist of up to 30 people.

Public tour tickets, at no charge, must be obtained in advance and will be available only from the Pierre Chamber of Commerce. Those interested in a tour should call the Chamber at 605-224-7361.




by Katlyn Richter on April 14, 2014 · 0 comments

Award-winning illustrator Donald F. Montileaux has put another ancient Lakota tale to paper. Tasunka: A Lakota Horse Legend features a Lakota translation by Agnes Gay and is the newest children’s book from the South Dakota State Historical Society. It is a story of adventure, discovery, loss and renewal, set to beautiful ledger-style illustrations that illuminate the story of the horse and its importance to the plains people.


Tasunka: A Lakota Horse Legend uses traditional storytelling methods to impart wisdom to new generations. Readers journey with a young warrior as he tracks a strange new creature across the plains. Far from home, he discovers beasts that run as swift as the wind and shimmer with many colors. The young Lakota warrior captures and tames them, and his people grow rich and powerful. Then the Great Spirit, who gave the gift of the horse, takes it away.


“This book is an important addition to our collection of stories for children. Don has created a visually stunning work of art and, together with Agnes Gay, has preserved a piece of Lakota culture,” says Nancy Tystad Koupal, Director of the South Dakota Historical Society Press.


Donald F. Montileaux is an enrolled member of the Oglala Lakota Nation. Tasunka is the first time he has worked with the South Dakota State Historical Society as both an author and an illustrator. Montileaux contributed artwork to the multi-award winning South Dakota Historical Society Press book, Tatanka and the Lakota People: A Creation Story, and illustrated The Enchanted Buffalo, part of the Press’s Prairie Tale series. An award-winning artist, illustrator, presenter, and consultant on Lakota culture, he uses his art to tell traditional Lakota stories. Montileaux lives in Rapid City, South Dakota, with his family. He dedicates Tasunka to Alex White Plume, who provided the catalyst for the book.


Tasunka: A Lakota Horse Legend is available for $19.95 plus shipping and tax and can be purchased from most bookstores or ordered directly from the South Dakota Historical Society Press. Visit, email, or call (605) 773-6009. Tasunka is appropriate for first- to fourth-grade readers or as a book to be read aloud to younger children.


Posted in History

Winter in Deadwood

by Katlyn Richter on March 6, 2014 · 0 comments

If you’ve been watching the news, or living it yourself, you know that winter in the Midwest isn’t over yet! However, there’s a place in South Dakota that you can make the best of the season. A stay in Deadwood puts you close to lots of winter action in the Black Hills.

Whether it’s skiing or snowboarding at Terry Peak or Mystic Miner, or cruisin’ on a snowmobile on the hundreds of miles of trails, outdoor adventure abounds in this mountain town. It is expected to have a good snowpack for winter sports until at least early April.

There’s plenty to do indoors too – there are more than 80 gaming halls in Historic Deadwood, and museums to explore. If you’re up for a drive, the scenic highways in the winter will take your breath away.

Also in Deadwood, you can find unique events in the winter months. Deadwood is always a great host to St. Patrick’s Day events: pub crawls, Leprechaun Olympics, parades, music, and food will all delight visitors! For a complete schedule of events during St. Patrick’s Day weekend, click here.


I recently was able to spend time in Chamberlain, a community that sits along the Missouri River in South Dakota. I’ve been through and stopped in Chamberlain dozens of times in my life, but I hadn’t ever had the time to stop to explore and give it the discovery time it deserved.

I drove in on an early fall morning taking the back roads from Pierre. Dozens of pheasants showed their beautiful colors alongside the road, knowing they were still safe before opening pheasant weekend arrived in a few weeks. The river winded to and fro carving out beautiful landscapes in the distance. It was a beautiful and relaxing drive.

Arriving in Chamberlain, I first checked out the downtown which was host to many cute shops and restaurants. The South Dakota Hall of Fame was first on my list of places to see followed by lunch at the classic Al’s Oasis – buffalo burger it is! As a South Dakotan, you’re bound to recognize a face or two in their large dining room. By the way, don’t skip the pie while you’re there.

The highlight of the trip for me however, was the Akta Lakota Museum & Cultural Center. It sits on the pristine grounds of St. Joseph’s Indian School. The museum serves as an educational outreach portion of the school. Inside is a collection of art, artifacts and educational displays that proudly showcase the heritage of the Lakota people.


For me, it was more than a museum. The recent updates to the museum made it feel as though I was re-living history step-by-step. The format made the information very easy to digest and understand. The octagon shaped building allows you to embark on a circular tour exploring the Camp Circle, Two Worlds Meet, Broken Promises, and Continuity and Change sections of the museum.

A new component to the museum is a very interactive section called Tokéya uŋkí nájiŋpi (We Stood Here in the Beginning). This new center depicts the lives of students who have attended St. Joseph’s Indian School in the past and present. Students from the school often come to the museum to discover the history of the students who attended the school before them. The exhibits are engaging, interesting and very interactive. An audio tour is available for guests or visitors can join guided tours at 10:30 and 1:30 Monday through Saturday.

Inside is also a renowned collection of Lakota, Dakota and Nakota art, including a must-see painting “The Alter” by Bobby Penn who was influenced by Harvey Dunn.  The collection of art by Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota artists is impressive.

This was one of my favorite museums that I have been to in a long time – it’s now a favorite part of Chamberlain for me and I plan to get back frequently as there was so much information to take in for just one visit.



Outdoor Campus West

by Katlyn Richter on January 8, 2014 · 0 comments

On the western side of Rapid City, there is a place that catches you off guard the first time you arrive. You’ll feel as though you’re heading out of town and away from the “hub” of the city, and likely take notice of an impressive structure. The building sits on several acres of both tame and untamed land. Anyone know the place I’m referring to?

It’s the Outdoor Campus West, located on Adventure Trail off Sturgis Road. It is managed by South Dakota’s Department of Game, Fish and Parks, and the mission is “to provide education about outdoor skills, wildlife, conservation and management practices of South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks to all ages in order to preserve our outdoor heritage.” And it does just that.

The last time I was there I had the opportunity to do quite a few things – many that I’ve tried before, and a few things that I wasn’t so skilled at. It’s all housed in the comforts of a facility with someone nearby to field questions.

First, I tried my hand at archery. Now, I’ve tried several times before, but never have spent a lot of time with it; I’m definitely still a beginner. During this experience, I learned how to raise and lower my aim by adjusting my feet, where to best put my fingers and hand to create balance and steadiness for accuracy, and even had a friendly competition with those I was visiting with. Let’s say I didn’t win this competition! (Not surprising as I was also experimenting to see if I did better left or right handed!)

 (winner of the archery competition)

The exhibits inside provide interactive learning experiences and a chance to look at the animals that call South Dakota home with impressive taxidermy pieces throughout the building. They often hold educational classes inside for the general public or school groups that frequent the facility.

Where I really had fun was outside on the rock climbing wall. There were three levels of difficulty, and my friends and I again had a “friendly” competition. This one got a bit more heated than the archery – all in fun! We raced to the top and strategized over how to conquer the hardest difficulty side. None of us completed.

The grounds at Outdoor Campus West provide an opportunity to get out and explore nature, but right in city limits. There is a tree house to explore, pretend, and play. There are walking trails to take a leisurely walk or get some exercise. There is even a mud pit to make your own mud pie. It’s a place that provides opportunities and chances to get outside and explore; something that we need more of these days.



Main Street Square

by Katlyn Richter on November 14, 2013 · 1 comment

this is a guest blog post from Main Street Square in Rapid City.


Oct. 23, 2013

By Anna Seaton Huntington

In early October, sculptor Masayuki Nagase and I recorded an interview with StoryCorps. The nationwide oral history project had a mobile unit at Main Street Square for a month this fall.

The StoryCorps experience was surprisingly intimate and conducive to reflection and conversation. Yuki and I spoke for 40 minutes and only got through three of my nine questions. Some of our conversation is transcribed below.


Anna Huntington: Could you describe your first impressions of this region?

Masayuki Nagase: It was almost 30 years ago, I was driving through Nebraska with my then girlfriend to get to Colorado. A chemical factory fire closed the road we were on so we decided to take a detour through South Dakota. It was such a strong contrast from the flatlands of Nebraska to the Badlands. I was just amazed by how the landscape changed and by how striking the space is.


AH: How did you initially hear about the Main Street Square sculpture project?

MN: I’ve been working for public art projects for more than ten years, so I get mailings and emails from different agencies announcing jobs. When I first saw this opportunity advertised in the winter of 2011, I thought, ‘Well, that’s an interesting place.’ I had such a great experience in the Badlands and my fresh memory was still in my mind. I read the information and the scope of work and thought, ‘Oh, maybe I can be a semi-finalist and travel back there once.’


AH: You’ve said before that you were surprised to be chosen as the artist for this project, why?

MN: As part of the selection process, we were invited to come and observe the surrounding environment and talk to people about a wide range of topics. So, when I saw what kind of work was around, I really felt maybe my work doesn’t fit here. Many things are very representative and also the theme of the work here is very different from what I do. I’m kind of a naturalist, so always I choose essence of nature as the theme of my works, so that’s one reason I thought people wouldn’t be interested in my work here.


AH: What happened when you got the phone call saying you’d been selected?

MN: I was watching the Presidential election returns with my family and when the phone rang and I saw that the call was from Rapid City, I thought, ‘Oh, I forgot something at the hotel, or there was a delivery problem with my model.’ So I just turned off the phone. I didn’t think of connecting the call to the selection at all! When [project manager, Pat Wyss] called the next day and said the committee had recommended me, my first reaction was, ‘Are you sure?’ I was shocked actually. It was a total surprise.


AH: Can you talk about how you developed your design concept for Passage of Wind and Water with the selection committee’s requirement that it include the natural and cultural history of the Black Hills and Badlands?

MN: I had to present some basic design concept as the first step in the selection process. It was very difficult to figure out what I can do and what works for this place without really knowing it.

I always start by studying the nature of the region and I was able to do that initially online. The region’s cultural history wasn’t really clear to me and so I started to read about that and learned about the very complicated history of this place. I wondered how can I bring those elements into this design. That’s what I haven’t done before, brought those human elements, the story telling, into my work. It was kind of a challenge to me…

So I set up the natural elements of wind and water, which bring all sorts of change in the natural environment, as the visual themes. But since I’d read about the waves of geological and historical change in the region, I decided to choose this whole transformation and change as the main theme, as the conceptual foundation. I wanted to include quite a big span of time because geologically the Black Hills emerged such a long time ago. And I wanted to include that time before humans appeared in this area and all the change of life of this region. I wanted to include human history as part of that, not as the focus. I am still dealing with life of nature in general in this region.


AH: How did your observations of the project’s location at Main Street Square inform your design?

MN: When I first came to Rapid City, I observed this square and how people used this space. I stayed two days after the official visit because I felt I needed to observe things and get material. I also checked out the stone compositions and from my observations, I guessed the landscape architect’s concept. It was very clear that he wanted to have some barriers between the Square and the outside street and space. But at the same time he wanted to have interaction and opening so it’s not completely closed. It’s not transparent, but kind of translucent. So that gave me the idea, it reminds me of the folding screen that we have in Japan. If you look at the stones, it’s huge blocks, but basically a panel. So that gave me the idea and the confidence to compare to a screen. So I thought I can bring two different, contrasting designs to the outside and the inside of the granite pieces.


AH: Can you talk about how you approached your design for the two 35-foot-high spires? How did you come up with the idea of including community members’ handprints and the idea that the spires would represent our community’s hopes for the future?

MN: The spires were the most surprising structure. And we were asked to include them in the sculptural composition and carving process. I wasn’t quite sure what I could do and it was hard to tell much from pictures. I found I couldn’t carve them too much because they are basically made of stone panels and can’t take much impact.

I was thinking not just for the spires, but for the whole composition, looking at the forms and textures the landscape architect created and thinking how physically I can deal with these compositions and material. It’s already installed. Usually I work from raw material and in my studio I can roll it over and work with it in the ideal position. But here, it’s not possible, everything is installed and in its position and I can’t change its direction. That’s a huge challenge.

Also, in the process of developing the design concept, from my observations of the Square, I thought this sculpture has to be for the community people. The Square is really community and so somehow I wanted to include the community peoples’ ideas and thoughts in my project. But I didn’t know them, so somehow I wanted to figure out how to include their thoughts and opinions in the project, or at least the inspiration of their thoughts. So my answer was carving relief in the entire composition. My concern was how to maintain this kind of harmony the landscape architect created. I didn’t want to do something to lose that strength.

And another thing, it was very clear to me from the beginning that all 21 pieces have to come together and say one thing. If I don’t keep the simplicity, then it’s a failing. So I wanted to really have integrity behind all of the pieces saying the same thing in the end.

When I was thinking about the concept for the work and I brought up the theme of transformation and change and noticed from my observations all the change that has happened in this region, I thought it’s very important that people understand this change is always inevitable. Our life is basically very unpredictable and impermanent. Impermanence is the essence of all life. That is a truth. We have to really see that, we have to really accept that. And through that, if you really understand this impermanence, we’ll get peace in our minds…

You can say it’s Buddhist, but I’ve read about Lakota philosophy and they are very close to nature. Their belief is very beautiful. They often talk about spirit, but basically they are giving everything to this nature. That is what they’re understanding, they receive everything from nature, their life depends on nature’s will. So that’s what I thought of connecting to this understanding of impermanence… The important thing is that we just appreciate this moment.

Find out more on these websites:


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South Dakota Hall of Fame

by Katlyn Richter on October 10, 2013 · 0 comments

The South Dakota Hall of Fame is housed in a beautiful building sitting on the banks of the Missouri River in Chamberlain, South Dakota. Inside you’ll find the stories of hundreds of influential South Dakotans, which showcase the great works being done by people in the Mount Rushmore state.

While the Hall of Fame was established in 1974, it was in 1996 that the state legislature designated the South Dakota Hall of Fame in Chamberlain as the official Hall of Fame for South Dakota. It is a non-profit organization that has a board of directors and a full-time staff who stand behind the mission of the organization.

The South Dakota Hall of Fame offers the opportunity for visitors to learn more about the people that make up the Great Faces of the state’s Great Places. It’s an interesting place for kids too, with interactive displays and trivia about inductees.

Each year, up to 15 people are inducted into one of five established categories: professional, arts & entertainment, historical, general, and sports. The 2013 induction ceremony took place on September 14, when 10 individuals were inducted into the Hall of Fame.

The 2013 inductees included Miles Beacom, Ruth Brennan, Bernard Christenson, Shirley Halleen, William “Bill” Janklow, Dr. Dennis Knutson, Pat Lebrun, Thomas Louis Lillibridge, Jerry Shoener, and Charles “Chuck” Trimble. The Hall of Fame’s website gives a complete biography for each person inducted.

Notable faces that have been inducted to the Hall of Fame over the years include Mary Hart, Terry Redlin, Tom Brokaw, Al Neuharth, and Crazy Horse.

It’s a great place to stop to learn more about the state’s diverse set of people who have contributed to the progress of the state, shaped the way of life and values for South Dakotans, and to simply honor those who have forged the way with their leadership, professionalism, and values.

The South Dakota Hall of Fame is located just off Interstate-90 at Exit 263. Visitors are able to come year round. Memorial Day through Labor Day hours are Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Winter hours are Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

Adjacent, and within very close walking distance, is the South Dakota Veteran’s Park. The goal of the site is to honor all South Dakota military veterans and active duty personnel for their service. The park will continue to develop over the next few years.



The 1880 Train and Prairie Berry Winery have been teaming up for years to bring visitors exceptional events in two beautiful Black Hills communities. They also put on some really great events individually. I recently visited both places, and was very impressed with my experience while there. Exceptional service, and lots of fun were had by everyone that I was with at these beautiful properties. I picked up a flyer detailing out the up-coming events at both locations. I thought I would share the details with our followers on this blog. Please visit their websites for more information.

Prairie Berry Winery Events: 

Pink Slip Ball
October 12, 2013
7-10 p.m.
Get your pink on for a good cause and a good time. Prairie Berry Winery and the American Cancer Society offer you the unique opportunity to drink delicious (pink) wine, eat fantastic (pink) food, wear fabulous (pink) formal attire and dance to great music. Helping fight cancer has never been this much fun. Tickets are available by contacting Prairie Berry Winery.

Pumpkin Bog Festival
October 1-13, 2013
No admission fee.
What does fall taste like? Pumpkin Bog wine! Grab a sweater and join us in welcoming Pumpkin Bog back for the season and celebrating the cool weather, changing colors, and crisp crunch of fallen leaves. Free, family-friendly activities Saturdays in October.  More information on

Harvest Dinner
Oct. 25 & 26, 2013
Tickets are $50 each
Enjoy a harvest-inspired menu paired with Prairie Berry’s wines and learn more about winemaking and the people who do it.

Sip and Shop
Saturdays, Nov. 9, 16, 23 & 30
No admission fee.
Find unique gifts (and maybe a little something for yourself) while enjoying free live music at the winery. Pick up a glass of wine and browse the expanded merchandise department for unique items for everyone on your list, wine-lover or not. Ask about our custom gift baskets for a one-of-a-kind South Dakota gift.

Fezziwig Festival
Saturday, Dec. 7, 11 a.m.-4 p.m., $35
Saturday, Dec. 8, 11 a.m.-4 p.m., $35
Designated drivers save $5.
The Fezziwig Festival is back for its 10th year at Prairie Berry Winery! Enjoy this Dickens-inspired holiday party with your friends while doing your holiday shopping. Tickets include four glasses of wine, foods paired to go with each wine, live music, a chance at wine giveaways, a keepsake wine glass, merchandise specials, and shuttle service between Prairie Berry Winery and Hill City.

For more information any of these Prairie Berry Winery events, visit or call 605-574-3898.

1880 Train Events: 

Holiday Express
November 29
2:30 & 4:15 p.m.
November 30
12:45 & 2:30 p.m.
December 14
2:30, 4:15 & 6 p.m.
December 21, 22 & 23
12:45, 2:30, 4:15, & 6 p.m.

Experience the magic of the Holiday Express as you take a journey to the North Pole where Santa will be waiting to board the train. Enjoy hot chocolate and cookies from Santa’s elves. Each child will have the chance to meet Santa and receive a small Christmas gift. Perfect for the whole family!

The ride will take approximately 1 hour. Tickets are $28 for adults, $12 for children (3-12), 2 and under ride free. For details on reservations visit or call 605-574-2222.



Upcoming Wacipi Celebrations

by Katlyn Richter on August 28, 2013 · 1 comment

Experience colorful finery, elaborate featherwork, and intricate beadwork along with bountiful culture at a powwwow, or “wacipi” in South Dakota. Wacipi, pronounced WA CHEE PEE, is Dakota, Lakota, and Nakota for “dance.”

For your weekend planning and cultural enjoyment, we’ve compiled a roundup of festivals happening over the long Labor Day weekend and into September:

Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Fair (Rodeo and traditional powwow)
August 30-September 2
Location: Eagle Butte, South Dakota
605-964-6685 or 605-538-4477

Winner Labor Day Wacipi Celebration

August 30-September 2
Location: Winner Community Grounds, Winner, South Dakota

Pahin Sinte Labor Day Wacipi & Rodeo
August 31-September 2
Porcupine, South Dakota
Later in September:

South Dakota State University’s 23rd Annual Wacipi
September 14-15, 2013
Location: Swiftel Center, Brookings, SD
Contact: 605-688-6416

Annual American Indian Days Celebration “Gathering of the Wakanyeja” Powwow
September 20 & 21, 2013
Location: St. Joseph’s Indian School, Chamberlain, SD
Contact: 605-734-3300

September 14, 2013
9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Location: Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate Memorial Park

If you’ve never been to a powwow, we encourage you to get out and experience this event. These events are open to the public. Pack a lawn chair or a bring a blanket and sit back and enjoy the day! Typically there are unique food vendors on site as well.


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