South Dakota Humanities Council Awards $30K in Statewide Grants

Thirteen Organizations Receive Major Grants For Programs After May 1

The South Dakota Humanities Council Board of Directors has awarded $30,000 in major grant funding to organizations around the state, including several supporting the 2017 Race and Civility Initiative.

The Race and Civility theme supports the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) "Humanities and the Legacy of Race and Ethnicity in the United States" Initiative supporting public programming that addresses "persistent social, economic, cultural, and racial issues that divide our communities."

The board of directors approved 13 major grants at its most recent meeting, held in Yankton in April, for programs occurring after May 1:

  • Lakota Language Consortium received $2,500 for the "Lakota Children's Book Project" that will publish five Lakota children's books to increase Lakota youth literacy on all nine South Dakota American Indian reservations. The books will be presented at the 2017 Lakota Dakota Nakota Language Summit in Rapid City.
  • Crazy Horse School received $2,000 for "Lakota Culture Week," a weeklong celebration of Lakota culture from May 1-5 in Wanblee, S.D. featuring workshops for students to learn traditional skills and values from tribal experts such as Joseph Marshall, author of "The Lakota Way," and Kevin Locke, traditional hoop dancer and flute-maker.
  • The Shamus Project/Hopa Mountain Foundation received $2,000 to help fund the inaugural "Indigenous Book Writers Book Festival" June 24, 2017 in Rapid City. The event will highlight an often-overlooked segment of the literary community, inspire other indigenous authors and make their work accessible to more Native and non-Native people. The event, part of SDHC's Race and Civility Initiative, will focus on building community and discussing issues. It will feature presentations, readings, panel discussions and book signings.
  • Sinte Gleska University received $2,000 in support of "NPIAM Juror's Forums," a project featuring discussions in Brookings, Vermillion and Sioux Falls Sept. 21. Three nationally-renowned scholars will speak to a diverse audience about Native American Northern Plains Art history and how changing art forms produced by native artisans contribute to the promotion of cross-cultural understanding. The project is part of the SDHC Race and Civility Initiative.
  • Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Society, Inc. received $2,000 to celebrate 150 years of the legacy of Laura Ingalls Wilder in honor of Laura's birth. The free event, July 14-16 in De Smet, is open to the public and will feature authors, illustrators, and actors who will discuss their connection with Laura and her "Little House" books. It will be held at the Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Society Park, offering visitors an opportunity to attend presentations, demonstrations and autograph signings.
  • Lutheran Social Services of South Dakota was granted $3,000 in support of the "Closer Connections Conference," which will feature Amer F. Ahmed, Ed. D. as the keynote speaker and discussion leader in Sioux Falls in November. Dr. Ahmed will discuss prevailing myths and attitudes in the Dakotas and how community leaders can help increase their communities' acceptance and welcoming of Muslim residents.
  • South Dakota Discovery Center received $1,000 for "SD History Adventures: Fort Pierre Bicentennial Edition," celebrating the historic river city's 200-year anniversary. The Discovery Center and its partners will invite 500 South Dakota fourth- through sixth-graders to Fort Pierre to participate in adventures such as a tour of the Missouri River on a steam-powered paddleboat (new to the area), a Lakota star knowledge planetarium program, and more.
  • Laura Ingalls Wilder Pageant Society was awarded $1,000 in support of the "Laura Ingalls Pageant" in De Smet, which will feature a rotation of four different Laura Ingalls Wilder-themed shows this summer for community members and visitors.
  • Dakota Western Heritage Festival in Fort Pierre received $2,000 for its annual event in Fort Pierre, which this year will be held Sept. 15-17 at the Stanley County Fairgrounds. The Festival celebrates Western traditions and lifestyle through education and entertainment, including speakers on the history of Fort Pierre, cowboy poetry and music, demonstrations by a saddle maker, and much more.
  • Aberdeen Area Arts Council received $2,000 for "Storybook Land Festival" in Aberdeen July 21-22, 2017. The two-day festival for children of all ages promotes children's literature and the importance of reading. It features musical entertainment, hands-on art and craft opportunities, costume characters and a movie showing.
  • The Books 4 Kids Program, which provides character-building books to pre-kindergarten through eighth grade students across South Dakota for free, received $3,000 in support of its programming. Books 4 Kids, based in Hayti, S.D., brings authors into the classroom, in person or electronically, to read their books to students. During live events, the author will facilitate a discussion about what was learned from the story and answer student questions. At the end of the discussion, students are surprised with the gift of a free book. The program has provided 16,000 students with free books.
  • South Dakota Symphony Orchestra in Sioux Falls received $5,000 to support Phase Three of the "Lakota Music Project." In partnership with a New Music USA Residency, American Indian composer Jerod Tate will work with Native youth in locations including Sisseton, Pine Ridge and the Crazy Horse Memorial near Custer. A music collaboration featuring the SDSO and a traditional Lakota drum group, the Lakota Music Project was designed to address the long history of racial tensions, advance cultural understanding and create an environment of openness and collaboration through the universal language of music.
  • Dahl Arts Center in Rapid City received $2,468 for the "History of Zephyr Rencontre" project, which includes a book and film on the history of Zephyr Rencontre, who was a South Dakota guide and fur trader in the 1800s.

Grant Requirements

Major grant applications must involve humanities professionals and include the humanities as a central focus of the grant program for which funding is sought.

SDHC is now accepting major grant applications (more than $1,000) for programs occurring after Dec. 1. The fall deadline is Oct. 15. Applications for mini grants (under $1,000) are being accepted on a rolling basis. Apply at

For more details, visit SDHC online or call (605) 688-6113.