Voting: Why It Matters

The new award-winning short documentary "Without a Whisper/Konnon:Kwe," made by Mohawk Territory producer-director Katsitsionni Fox, tells a long-unheralded story about how the people of the matrilineal Iroquois Confederacy have been influencing public policy over time. The movie features Mohawk Clan Mother Louise Herne (right) and Women's Studies pioneer Dr. Sally Roesch Wagner. The two discussed the film and related issues during SDHC's kickoff event for Voting: Why It Matters.

South Dakota Programming Includes Louise Erdrich, Gloria Steinem

Through "Why It Matters," 43 Humanities Councils Across the Country and U.S. Territories Explore the History, Importance, and Impact of the American Electoral Process

The South Dakota Humanities Council has several events planned in 2021 for “Voting: Why It Matters,” a new national initiative funded by a $50,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to educate South Dakotans on the importance of civic participation.

The Mellon Foundation awarded $1.96 million to the Federation of State Humanities Councils to support "Why It Matters: Civic and Electoral Participation," which will explore civic participation as it relates to electoral engagement in a multivocal democracy.

South Dakota is one of 43 U.S. states and territories selected to participate in the initiative, which began in December and will run through spring 2021.

2018 One Book South Dakota Author Thomas E. Patterson is part of SDHC’s 2021 programming for “Voting: Why It Matters.”

SDHC featured renowned women’s studies scholar Sally Roesch Wagner in its kickoff event Dec. 15, the first in a series of programs that includes guests such as Gloria Steinem (see recording of Steinem's event with Sally Roesch Wagner above), Louise Erdrich, Thomas E. Patterson and Robert V. Burns. All SDHC events are free, but registration is required.

Programs in South Dakota and elsewhere in the United States will explore the history of civic and electoral engagement, highlight and elevate varied perspectives, and bring people together to talk, share, learn, and listen using the humanities to promote understanding through historical context and conversation.

“We are thankful to the Mellon Foundation for providing this grant to fulfill a vital need for our modern-day democracy, and to the Federation of State Humanities Councils for offering us the opportunity to bring it to South Dakotans,” said SDHC executive director Ann Volin. “It is important for citizens to understand how vital their vote is and why voting matters.”

This program was funded by the “Why it Matters: Civic and Electoral Participation” initiative, administered by the Federation of State Humanities Councils and funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.  

UPCOMING EVENTS (all via Zoom) 

  • The Reappearing Voter Thomas E. Patterson in conversation with Robert V. Burns, March 9, at 7 pm CT/6 pm MT. Burns and Patterson will investigate recent trends in voter participation.
    Register here:

  • An Evening with Louise Erdrich A special guest appearance by the award-winning author, March 25, at 7 pm CT/6 pm MT. Erdrich will discuss Native American electoral access.
    Register here:

Event Coverage: Blog Posts and Other News

Subscribe to SDHC E-news and Blog for More Information on 'Voting: Why It Matters'

To receive important updates about this new initiative, please subscribe to our e-newsletter and blog by clicking below. We hope you join us Dec. 15 as we kick off this vital initiative.

About the Federation of State Humanities Councils

Founded in 1977, the Federation of State Humanities Councils is the national member association of the U.S. state and jurisdictional humanities councils. Our purpose is to provide leadership, advocacy, and information to help members advance programs that engage millions of citizens across diverse populations in community and civic life.