Four Win 2016 Distinguished Achievement in the Humanities

Humanities Council honors four for contributions to S.D.

Librarian, author, law scholar and South Dakota bank receive awards

BROOKINGS, SD – Three people and one South Dakota-based bank were recognized at the South Dakota Festival of Books with the 2016 Distinguished Achievement in the Humanities award for their contributions to humanities in the state.

Winners of the award are Ann Smith, a librarian from Sioux Falls; Ted Kooser, a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet from Nebraska; First Bank & Trust, headquartered in Brookings; and Frank Pommersheim, a USD law professor and scholar.

The four received their awards during the 14th annual Festival of Books in Brookings in late September. 

Sherry DeBoer, SDHC executive director of the South Dakota Humanities Council, presents awards to Ted Kooser, Ann Smith, Frank Pommersheim and Tom Fishback (First Bank & Trust) at the South Dakota Festival of Books in Brookings on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2016. 

The honorees are the following:

Ann Smith, librarian: A native South Dakotan, Ann Smith was born with a love for learning and encouraging people to explore new ideas or reframe old ideas in a fresh light. Today, she serves as the Director of Curriculum and Instructional Services at Sioux Falls School District, where she’s worked since 2001. She leads the school district’s library program and revels in the rapidly changing information landscape.

Ted Kooser, author: He is a former two-term United States Poet Laureate and the author of 14 full-length collections of poetry, including Delights and Shadows, which won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize. Kooser’s writing is known for its clarity, precision and accessibility; his poems are included in textbooks and anthologies used in secondary schools and college classrooms across the country.

First Bank & Trust, organization/donor: The organizations has sponsored the SDHC and the Festival of Books since 2010, putting books in the hands of school children, area residents and employees. First Bank & Trust’s charitable giving arm ― the Fishback Financial Corporation (FFC) Community Fund ― supports projects that provide an ongoing benefit for the community, including those that elevate liberal arts and education.

Frank Pommersheim, humanities scholar: Prior to joining the University of South Dakota School of Law faculty in 1984, Pommersheim lived and worked on the Rosebud Sioux Reservation. He writes extensively in the field of Indian law and serves on a number of tribal appellate courts, including those on the Cheyenne River and Rosebud reservations. Those experiences led to his most recent book, Tribal Justice: 25 Years as a Tribal Appellate Justice.

The South Dakota Humanities Council has previously recognized 43 people with the Distinguished Achievement in the Humanities Awards. The council and the board of directors select and approve the nominees for the award each year, which is presented at the annual Festival of Books.

The honorees demonstrate a commitment to scholars and cultural advocacy around South Dakota. They present humanities-related events and programs, write books and publications important to the humanities and provide funding or partnerships to sustain a vibrant cultural landscape.