Teaching South Dakota History

I’ve recently come across a few people concerned with the availability of teacher resources and continuing education for South Dakota history.  One was particularly looking for digital and primary digital resources to use with an existing curriculum plan.  I have only moderate experience with planning and hosting youth programs and no professional experience with curriculum development, but I do love research and learning about history.  Their conversations made me think about whether the digital research sources I use on a regular basis, or come across randomly, could help teach significant South Dakota stories.  So this post is thinking out loud about this question…  Let me know if anything here is helpful and please do comment with other ideas or great examples of teaching SD history!

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A Brief Moment of Personal Reflection

I am going to wallow for a bit, but only briefly.  I have had a couple (several) months where I feel pulled in every direction at once and torn into small, unfocused pieces.  Too many balls in the air and not enough hands.  Too many irons in the fire.  Too many cats to herd.  Too many metaphors…

For a variety of reasons, I just can’t get ahead of anything and can’t spend the desired time and depth on anything–particularly for history-related reading and research projects, both in and outside of work.   It is crazy frustrating and I suspect it isn’t so uncommon (I hope it isn’t, I’d hate to be the outlier in this).  Please feel free to comment with any advice or commiseration–I may be a lost cause (dramatic sigh), but others might benefit  🙂

A blessing of public history is the chance to do and learn many different things, but sometimes…

I am getting the chance this weekend to go on a small road trip (that’s the plan at least) and share a visit to the Pyle House Museum in Huron with women who have not yet been there (see my previous post about my first visit, here).  That’ll hopefully re-activate the history-joy centers of my brain…

New Book!

Just arrived today!  A new book “Conservation on the Northern Plains: New Perspectives,” edited by Anthony J. Amato, and published by the Center for Western Studies, arrived in the mail.  I’ve only read as far as the table of contents, but am excited to get into some regional environmental history!

It’s so shiny…

 

What I’m Reading 5

The blog for the Organization of American Historians, Process History, was themed on environmental history this month, yay!!  Here are a few of their blog articles that I’ve enjoyed recently.

The first article on today’s list is by Joseph Giacomelli, from the work he’s doing for his dissertation at Cornell, on understandings of climate in the Gilded Age.  This article looks at one particular speech from 1886 about reasons for increased climate volatility, such as an increase in floods and tornadoes, and puts the speech in context for the scientific discourse of the era.  One of the suspected reasons cited in that speech was deforestation in the industrializing country and Giacomelli connects it to the western histories of tree-planting on the Plains through the 1930s.

The second article frames the involvement of unions with the early environmental movement in the 70s and their disconnect subsequent 80s deregulation/union-busting, against today’s trend toward additional cuts to environmental regulation: “If workers’ survival depends on jobs, it also frequently depends on EPA and OSHA protections.”  The author, Josiah Rector, a recent PhD grad and teacher at Wayne State University, has researched a moment in environmental history in Detroit for African-American auto workers facing job-related health issues, but he also bookends the post with references to current fights for good water in Flint and here at Standing Rock.  He encourages historians not to discount the impact of unions on histories of “environmental justice and environmental racism.”

Then, I looked back and caught a third article from January that I had missed about the “colonial gaze” on native foodways, which connects to the native experience in South Dakota.  The author, Michael Wise, an assistant professor at the University of North Texas, argues that there is a troubling disconnect between foodie culture, where the “rediscovery” of heirloom or ‘ancient’ foods are trending for various reasons, and scholarship about native food history, because the former treats native foods and therefore native people as static in a “timeless, natural” pre-contact world–the “colonial gaze.”  He writes that scholars need to be conscious of the continuum of history of native foods and food production, the impact of colonial and expansion eras, and native responses to those influences.  The author mentions the Tanka bars produced on our own Pine Ridge reservation as a case of the trendiness of native foods, but it’d be interesting to further explore whether the trend, and maybe the “rediscovery” myth to an extent, is part of current native producers’ economic strategy…

SURVEY: 1970s in South Dakota

The Cultural Heritage Center museum in Pierre is soliciting input while they plan an upcoming exhibit on South Dakota in the 1970s, even if you’ve never been to the CHC.  What defined the era?  What would you want to see covered?  What would be a glaring omission?

I took the survey, will you?  Link here or this is the address: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/8KY782Y

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Photograph by the author.

Digital Resources 4

This edition of Digital Resources includes three collections of the Library of Congress:

Library-of-Congress-logo

At the Library of Congress website, I recently came across detailed plat maps of Turner, Hanson, Bon Homme, and Lincoln Counties from 1893, link here.  They were published by Rowley & Peterson, a company from Vermillion, SD.

My favorite research maps for South Dakota towns are definitely those of the Sanborn Fire Insurance Co.  Some libraries have digital access to map collections, but there are some of the nineteenth-century maps freely available on the Library of Congress, link here.

In 1939-1940, photographer John  Vachon came through South Dakota for the Farm Security Administration and took photographs of many different subjects, including grand houses, churches, ranch landscapes, snowy streets, and a family at dinner.  He went through Sisseton, Aberdeen, Roslyn, Pierre, Mellette County, Mission, Draper, Miller, Hyde County, Bowdle, Ipswich, Zell, Rockham, Faulk County, Doland, Clark County, Dewey County, Timber Lake, Trail City, Selby, Mobridge, Walworth County, Lemmon, White Butte, Ziebach County, Cressbard, Glenham, Orient, Rosebud, Perkins County, Northville, Corson County, Marvin, Lyman County, Murdo, Batesland, Pine Ridge reservation, and Keystone, link here.

In Memorium, City Edition: Pierre

Our capitol city has lost many significant and/or gorgeous buildings.  It’s hard to  look at some of these archival photographs and think “How did we lose that!?!”  Towards the bottom of the list, I’ll run through some of the recent losses–those that had been neglected, damaged, or vacated and cleared to make way for whatever comes next.  Then, way at the bottom are citations for frequently used sources, I’ll just put the minimal citation in the text.

For more on Pierre’s surviving historic places and city history: Pierre/Fort Pierre Travel Itinerary from the National Park Service and the Historic Pierre website of the Pierre/Fort Pierre Historic Preservation Office.

Now, here are some (actually, a quite a few) short(-ish) building biographies for a selection of Pierre places that live now only in archive and memory…

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