SDHC Awards $36K for Humanities Grant Programs

Programs Feature Humanities Professionals

The South Dakota Humanities Council recently approved 10 grants to support humanities-based research and discussion programs in South Dakota.

The board of directors of the statewide non-profit, whose sole mission is to deliver humanities programs to South Dakotans, distributed $36,000 at its latest board meeting, funding programs taking place after May 1, 2020.

Successful applicants submit projects led by humanities professionals and feature humanities as a central focus of their program, event, or research project. Grant requests for more than $1,000 are considered twice a year. The next deadline for applications for more than $1,000 is Oct. 15. SDHC considers requests under $1,000 on a rolling basis.

The following organizations received awards:

  • South Dakota State Historical Society in Pierre received $2,500 for its research project entitled "Finding Grace: The Lost Ingalls Sister and the End of the Frontier." Laura Ingalls Wilder is best known for her award-winning Little House series based on her experience on the American frontier in the late 19th century. Her younger sister Grace Ingalls Dow (featured in three of the books) is often overshadowed by her sister's fictional depiction of her and lost in narratives of the American West that favor expansion rather than settlement, and independence rather than community. This research will explore Dow's experience of life in South Dakota, including her childhood, school life, college education, teaching, life as a journalist, and making a home in the new state.

  • Homestead Foundation (Western Writers of America) in Rapid City received $6,913 for the 64th Annual Western Writers of America Convention, which will be held Sept. 4-6, 2020, at the Rushmore Plaza Holiday Inn. The convention features tours, keynote presentations, panel discussions, and special events designed to inform and educate writers; the 2020 event will highlight American Indian literature and culture. It includes best-selling writers from South Dakota and beyond as well as sessions with editors, publishers, agents. Visit for more.

  • West River History Conference (WRHC), based out of Rapid City, received $1,500 for fund its West River History Conference, which will be held in Deadwood on Oct. 8-10, 2020, at the Historic 1898 Martin and Mason Hotel. The WRHC), founded in 1993, is the largest leadership and education conference in the region; it encourages amateur and professional historical research while offering an academic presentation environment and promoting historic preservation. Visit for more.
  • Sioux Falls Arts Council in Sioux Falls received $1,000 to fund the White Spruce Chamber Players (WSCP) Sept. 12, 2020 world premiere performance of "Palazzo" at the Washington Pavilion Belbas Theater. The piece is dedicated to the people of Mitchell – "The Palace City." The premiere will coincide with a residency by its composer, former South Dakota resident Nigel McBain. The WSCP are a South Dakota-based chamber music ensemble that collaborates with other local artists through combined projects and provides outreach to local schools.

  • Levitt at the Falls in Sioux Falls received $1,635 for "A Community Conversation: The Art of Resistance and Welcome: Expanding Compassion, Holding Paradox" to be held Aug. 21 at Good Earth State Park Visitor Center. The event features award-winning poet and musician Carrie Newcomer, who will lead a three-hour workshop featuring themes of empowerment and interdependence. The workshop will include music and small and large group discussions. Levitt at the Falls will organize this community workshop, which is open to community members and interfaith organizations.

  • Deadwood Alive in Deadwood received $4,342 for "Gold, Guns, and Grubstake," a daily public presentation and discussion series starting May 23, 2020 and running through Sept. 26, 2020, at Outlaw Square in Deadwood. Deadwood Alive actors, portraying historical characters, will entertain and educate tourists from all over the country about the clothing, tools, and firearms used in different periods of history in the American West.
  • Fort Sisseton Historic State Park received a $3,345 grant to create the Fort Sisseton Mobile App, which will tell the history of Fort Sisseton, which expands beyond the military years. The mobile app will allow visitors of all ages to explore the history of the Fort through pictures, videos, oral history and multiple first-person perspective tours. The app also provides an educational experience for people who cannot visit the Fort.

  • Magpie Creative in Rapid City received $2,827 to hold a Winter Camp for youth and adults on Sept. 1-30, 2020. The camp will function under Lakota cultural goals of sharing, cultural vitality, and community building, with one monthly workshop geared towards youth participants and one towards the public. Events, to be held at Racing Magpie, will be free to the public with limited space available and will target Lakota community members as both presenters and attendees.

  • USD English Department in Vermillion received $5,000 for its 2020 John R. Milton Conference, "Prospecting: Uncovering New Veins and Voices in Identity, Genre, and Place," Oct. 8-10, 2020 at the USD campus. The Milton Conference is a biennial conference that celebrates diverse literature that engages civil conversations in a humanistic tradition. The conference brings regional and national authors, scholars, students, and the public together for panels, readings, and discussions.

  • SDSU Briggs Library in Brookings received $7,000 for "Final Curtain Call: Preserving the History of SDSU's Doner Auditorium." South Dakota State University Archives and Special Collections in the Hilton M. Briggs Library will create a publicly accessible interactive online exhibit to preserve and promote the unique SDSU theatre history of inscriptions made by theatre program students at Doner Auditorium during the last four decades. A public reception and digital tour will be held May 20, 2021.

Learn More About SDHC, Grants

Due to the unpredictable public impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, program dates for the above grants are subject to change.

In addition to its regular grant program, SDHC is also offering CARES Act Grant to provide unrestricted operating support, humanities program support, or both to cultural organizations that have suffered program financial losses due to COVID-19 in the state of South Dakota.

Click below to read more about CARES grants.