25¢ South Dakota Statehood
Issue Date: May 3, 1989
City: Pierre, SD
Printed By: American Bank Note Co
Printing Method: Photogravure
South Dakota, with its geographic diversity and beauty, is appropriately nicknamed the "Land of Infinite Variety." It is home to Mount Rushmore, the Missouri River, the Black Hills, and the infamous Badlands, and provides habitats for wildlife ranging from coyotes and ring-necked pheasants to antelopes and chinook salmon.
Two American Indian tribes lived in South Dakota before the arrival of Europeans. The Arikara were farmers who lived near the mouth of the Cheyenne River and along the Missouri River. The Cheyenne lived near the Cheyenne River, the White River, and in the Black Hills. In the beginning of the 1700s, the Sioux moved to South Dakota from Minnesota. The Sioux were skilled hunters and warriors who lived by following the huge buffalo herds that wandered the plains.
European Exploration and the Fur Trade
Réne-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, claimed all the land drained by the Mississippi River system for France in 1682. The Missouri River, which runs through South Dakota, drains into the Mississippi – so that land claim included South Dakota. French-Canadian brothers François and Louis-Joseph La Vérendrye were the first whites to reach South Dakota. In 1743, they buried a small lead plate near the site of today’s Fort Pierre to prove they had been there. A group of schoolchildren discovered the plate in 1913. It is now displayed at the South Dakota Historical Museum. Fur trader Pierre Dorion became the first European to settle in South Dakota, in 1785. He lived in the James River Valley.
The Louisiana Purchase
In 1803, France sold Louisiana to the United States. In 1804, President Thomas Jefferson sent Meriwether Lewis and William Clark on an expedition to explore the Louisiana Territory. The Lewis and Clark expedition camped near today’s Elk Point in August of 1804. They continued through the region, following the Missouri River. During their return trip, after reaching the Pacific Ocean, the expedition again passed through South Dakota. Lewis and Clark reported finding a large number of fur-bearing animals in the South Dakota region, which attracted fur traders. They were also able to establish friendly relations with the Indian tribes of the area.
The first permanent settlement in South Dakota was built in 1817 on the site of Fort Pierre on the Bad River. A French trader, Joseph La Framboise, established the fort. The increased number of Europeans in South Dakota created tensions with the American Indian populations. The Arikara tribe attacked a fur-trading party led by the lieutenant governor of Missouri, General William Ashley. Federal troops were dispatched to punish the tribe. Sioux Indians, long-time rivals of the Arikara, fought alongside federal soldiers.
The Growth of Agriculture
Up until the 1850s, whites had only settled the land along the Missouri River in South Dakota. This changed during the 1850s. Individual settlers began moving to the east. Land companies, formed by businessmen and politicians, began developing the western lands. Sioux Falls, Medary, Flandreau, and other settlements were founded at that time. The Yankton Sioux signed a treaty in 1858 which made the land between the Big Sioux and Missouri rivers ready for settlement. By 1859, Yankton, Vermillion, and Bon Homme had been founded.
A U.S. Territory
South Dakota was governed as part of the Missouri Territory from 1812 to 1834. The eastern portion of the state was later part of the Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Minnesota territories, respectively. The western portion of the state remained part of the Missouri Territory until 1854. It then became part of the Nebraska Territory. In 1861, the Dakota Territory was created. It contained today’s North and South Dakota and parts of Montana and Wyoming.
In the 1860s, conflicts with American Indians prevented rapid settlement of the Dakota Territory. The most significant fighting was during Red Cloud’s War. Red Cloud was a Sioux chief. He opposed the construction of a bridge which was being built to facilitate the mining of gold located in prime Sioux hunting lands. From 1866-68, the Sioux attacked troops and settlers. Finally, the government met their demands and created the Great Sioux Reservation, which included all the land in South Dakota west of the Missouri River.
Gold is Discovered
In 1874, a military expedition into the Black Hills, led by Lieutenant Colonel George A. Custer, discovered gold near the present-day town of Custer. In 1876, even larger deposits were found near today’s towns of Lead and Deadwood. These discoveries created a rush of gold prospectors to the area. Lawless mining towns grew in these areas. Deadwood was of particular notoriety. Wild Bill Hickok, Calamity Jane, and other Deadwood citizens grew to become American legends.
The last big fight between Indians and whites in this area ended in the massacre at the Battle of Wounded Knee. Over 200 Indian men, women, and children were killed there.
Rapid Population Growth
The discovery of gold and the availability of excellent farm land attracted many thousands of settlers. In 1870, the South Dakota region had a population of less than 12,000. By 1890, the population had jumped to 348,600. This had many effects on the area. Railroads were built. Cattle ranchers were attracted to the area, as there was a huge demand for meat.
The 40th State to Join the Union
During the 1870s, it became obvious to the people of the Dakota Territory that northern and southern portions of this area had need for separate governments. In February 1889, Congress created the present boundaries of North and South Dakota. On November 2, 1889, South Dakota achieved statehood. By that time, South Dakota’s population had grown to nearly 350,000.