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2023 South Dakota History Conference to be Held in Pierre

March 25, 2023

The 2023 South Dakota History Conference is set for April 21-22 in Pierre. The annual conference, put on by the South Dakota State Historical Society, shares the history of the state and allows South Dakota residents and fellow scholars to discuss that history.

“We keep South Dakota history alive for the world,” said Nancy Tapken, the project director for the conference and strategic partnership developer for the Historical Society. “We’re preserving historic landmarks, publishing books about South Dakota history, digging up literally the history in a dig site, all of that falls under us. We’re preserving South Dakota stories, and really keeping history alive.”

This year’s event is spearheaded by the State Historical Preservation Office (SHPO) with a theme of “Great Faces, Great Places– History Makers in South Dakota.” The conference has 11 speakers over the two days with presentations on Indigenous history and feminism, women’s suffrage in South Dakota, Deadwood’s Chinatown, the preservation of rodeo, Oscar Micheaux, an African American filmmaker from the state, and the career of political leader Ben Reifel.

“These are some pretty high-level speakers,” Tapken said. “Attendees or people who are going to listen to it on the link at some future date really have access to some pretty great minds.”

Registration for the conference is currently open with reduced fees if attendees register before March 31. Costs range from $55 for students, $135 for South Dakota State Historical Society members, and $185 for non-members.

The conference ends on Saturday with an awards luncheon and featured speaker Joseph Bottum, a professor, author, and historian from South Dakota.

“He really enables people to think critically of history and think about our ancestors who prepare this land for us and how we live today,” Kevin Larsen, the Historical Society media representative, said. “If it wasn’t for all of these History Makers, we wouldn’t enjoy the freedoms that we have currently here in South Dakota.”

The South Dakota History Conference will be the first event since the Historical Society announced a $19.8 million remodel of the Cultural Heritage Center that will being in May, Larsen said.

“We’re preparing for the history and we’re preparing generations to come to preserve the history,” he said. “I think people will get a huge understanding of not only the past history, but as we prepare for history as well.”

The South Dakota History Conference was made possible in part by grant funding from the South Dakota Humanities Council.

“We really couldn’t put on this conference, frankly, without their help and the help of other generous sponsors,” Tapken said. “The grant money is helping us bring these presenters to the conference… the grant helps us pay the expense of video recording them.”

Recordings of the presentations will be available on the Historical Society’s website after the conference. To register for the event, visit

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