Humans arrived in what is now South Dakota at least 13,000 years ago. Thousands of years later, Indian tribes such as the Cheyenne, Arikara, Ponca, Lakota, and Dakota Sioux lived on this land. Today, nine Indian tribes still live in South Dakota. The first Europeans in the area were the Verendry brothers, who in 1743 laid claim to France. In 1803, the land was sold to the United States as part of the Louisiana Purchase, which included about 827,000 square miles of land west of the Mississippi River. In 1804, renowned explorers Lewis and Clark traveled through the newly acquired region on their way to the Pacific Ocean when they explored land acquired in the Louisiana Purchase. The Dakota Territory, which originally also included what is now North Dakota, was divided into two states in 1889. See South Dakota cities.
Dakota is a Sioux Indian word that roughly means “friendly” or “allies.” The state’s nickname comes from Mount Rushmore, a huge sculpture of the faces of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, and Theodore Roosevelt carved into the Black Hills. The faces of the presidents are about 60 feet high!
Geography of South Dakota
According to itypetravel.com, South Dakota is bordered by North Dakota to the north, Minnesota and Iowa to the east, Nebraska to the south, and Wyoming and Montana to the west. The Missouri River flows from north to south through the center of the state. To the east of the river lies the Drift Prairie, an area of lakes, low hills, and fertile farmland. The southeastern corner of the state is called the Scattered to the Plains, filled with streams and hills. The western two-thirds of the state is the Great Plains with canyons and flat-topped hills called hills. It’s also home to the Badlands, one of the richest fossils on Earth, where researchers have found ancient marine remains of saber-toothed cats, three-toed horses and marine animals. The Black Hills in the southwest are a mountain range that includes the 7,242-foot Black Elk Peak, the highest point in the state. The area is sacred to the Lakota, Northern Cheyenne and Omaha tribes.
Wildlife of South Dakota
South Dakota is called the home of buffalo, deer, antelopes, elk, porcupines, rabbits, and prairie dogs. Golden and bald eagles, round-necked pheasants and burrowing owls soar overhead. Tiger salamanders and soft shells, whose shells are covered with flexible skin, swim in rivers and streams. Common trees include ponderosa pines, weeping willows, and Black Hills spruce (the state tree), while three-foot-high grass rises on the plains. Wildflowers bloom throughout the state, as well as thistles, wild roses, daisy-like Indian sunflowers, and wild geraniums.