State Facts

The state of South Dakota is a state of extremes, from the flat prairies of the east to the peaks of the Black Hills on the west.  The symbols that represent the state are just as diverse.

General Information

The state of South Dakota lies in the Midwest region of the United States, and was named after the Lakota and Dakota Sioux Native American tribes.  Admitted to the union on November 2, 1889, the State of South Dakota had an estimated population of around 800,000 in 2008.  The state capital is Pierre (pronounced peer), and is centrally located.  The Mighty Missouri River divides the state into two sections, known by South Dakotans as west river and east river.

The state landscape is graced by the Black Hills on the west, which feature 2 unique memorials, Mount Rushmore and the Crazy Horse Memorial.  The state has typically relied on an agricultural economy and rural lifestyle, although more recently efforts have been made to diversify the state’s economic base.

State Symbols

The state of South Dakota has some iconic, and some lesser known state symbols, like the state drink which is milk.  The state symbols represent different aspects of life in the state, such as its favorite pastimes and natural beauty.

The ring-neck pheasant is the state bird, and one of the reasons hunters flock to South Dakota during the fall pheasant hunting season.  The state sport, rodeo, is another popular pastime for South Dakotans. Also known as the May Flower, the Pasque Flower is the state flower, and is a sign of spring’s arrival, a joyous time for South Dakotan’s after a long winter.

Another example of an unusual state symbol, the state bread is fry-bread, a Native American dish usually served at home or at special occasions like powwows.  Named the state dessert in 2000, kuchen is a type of coffee cake made from sweet dough with an assortment of fillings.

Famous South Dakotans

  • Billy Mills: Olympic Champion — Track
  • Bob Barker: Game-Show Host
  • Tom Brokaw: Journalist — News Anchor
  • Shawn Colvin: Musician
  • Mary Hart: Television Host
  • Cheryl Ladd: Actress
  • Russell Means: Activist, Actor
  • Al Neuharth: Journalist
  • Gutzon Borglum: Sculptor
  • Oscar Howe: Artist
  • Terry Redlin: Artist
  • Laura Ingalls Wilder: Author
  • Tom Daschle: Congressman
  • George S. McGovern: Congressman
  • Crazy Horse: Lakota leader
  • Sitting Bull: Lakota leader
  • James Butler Hickok: “Wild Bill Hickok”
  • Martha J. Burke: “Calamity Jane”
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