SDHC Awards $49K in Statewide Grants

The South Dakota Humanities Council Board of Directors has awarded $49,000 in major grant funding to organizations around the state.

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

14 Total Grants Approved

The board of directors approved 14 major grants at its most recent board meeting, held in Rapid City in November. Eight of the approved grants promote the humanities council’s 2017 programming initiative, Race and Civility.

This was the first of two grant cycles on the Race and Civility Initiative. SDHC encouraged and gave special consideration to proposals that promoted humanities discussions on Race and Civility for the fall grant cycle that culminated with the approved November grants. 

Proposals addressing the Race & Civility initiative were permitted to apply for funds over SDHC’s $7,000 limit due to special matching funding provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities. The largest funding awarded during the November meeting was to the Chiesman Center for Democracy in Rapid City. The organization applied under the Race and Civility Initiative and was awarded $15,000 to hold “Race, Civility and Community Conversations” in the state.

Chiesman Center will hold a summit regarding race, civility/positive dialogue and change in Rapid City, Huron, Sioux Falls and Aberdeen. Read more about it here.

Approved Grants: Complete Listing 

The other organizations approved under the Race and Civility Initiative include:

Lutheran Social Services of South Dakota, the University of South Dakota, the South Dakota Hall of Fame, Black Hills State University, Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate, South Dakota State University, Black Hills Film Festival and Dakota State University. 

The complete listing of approved grants is as follows: 

  • Brookings Renegades Muzzleloaders Club was awarded $1,000 for “Living History Fair,” an interactive educational event Jan. 27-28 at Lake Area Technical Institute in Watertown. On Friday, Jan. 27, 30 schools and 900 children will rotate among demonstrators and entertainers to experience culture and history. Members of the public are invited to join Saturday, Jan. 28, to watch history presentations by professional entertainers.
  • Sioux Valley School District in Volga was awarded $1,200 to support “A World of Music with Todd Green.” On May 1 at 1 p.m. at Sioux Valley Performing Arts Center, multi-instrumentalist Todd Green will conduct two 60-minute, age-appropriate lecture demonstrations, featuring 25 string, flute and percussion instruments, mainly from the Middle East, Central Asia, Far East and South America.
  • Lutheran Social Services of South Dakota in Sioux Falls was granted $1,855 for its program “Empowering and Embracing Diversity.” Led by SDHC scholar Dr. Martin Brokenleg, the conference will bring community professionals together to learn about the various cultures in their community, and discuss how they can improve justice systems so that communities and families can flourish. It will be held at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church Conference Center in Sioux Falls on Aug. 22 at 8 a.m.
  • Chiesman Center for Democracy in Rapid City was awarded $15,000 to hold “Race, Civility and Community Conversations” in South Dakota, facilitating a summit regarding race, civility/positive dialogue and change in each of the targeted communities of Rapid City, Huron, Sioux Falls and Aberdeen. Event details will be announced soon.
  • The University of South Dakota in Vermillion received $2,500 to host poet Elizabeth Acevedo for “Poetry and Identity” discussion. In celebration of National Poetry Month, Acevedo's visit will engage the public on race relations through an exploration of the theme "Identity Out Loud." She will lead a public writing workshop, a lecture, and a slam poetry performance Friday, April 7 at 9 p.m. at USD in Vermillion.
  • Black Hills State University Center for American Indian Studies in Spearfish was awarded $3,000 to hold discussions on “Leaders and Scholars in American Indian Academia” during the annual American Indian Awareness Week at BHSU. Discussions will focus on American Indian leaders in education as well as the discipline of American Indian Studies.
  • South Dakota Symphony Orchestra in Sioux Falls received $1,000 to support the “South Dakota Symphony Archive Project.” SDSO will collect oral histories of the organization and house a public archive at the Center for Western Studies in Sioux Falls. The organization will hold discussion programs when the public archive is launched in April 2017.
  • The University of South Dakota in Vermillion received $1,000 for “Hankus Netsky and The Klezmer Conservatory Band Educational Program,” which is part of a semester-long celebration of Yiddish language, culture, and music at the University of South Dakota. USD will bring in noted ethnomusicologist Hankus Netsky for its programming, which introduces participants to the Yiddish language and explores how Yiddish culture continues to change.
  • The Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate Tribe received $6,000 for “A Tale of Two Cities: Race & Civility Project,” a series of monthly discussion group meetings and orated field trips in Sisseton for community members and students. The field trips will feature tours of significant sites from the Native American and the American historical perspective.
  • South Dakota State University in Brookings was awarded $3,500 to host “Town Hall Meeting: Race Relations & Marginalized Communities” at the Performing Arts Center in Brookings on March 30 at 7 p.m. The event will feature open dialogue on race relations between marginalized communities, law enforcement, and the media. The program will address the social justice, cultural and racial issues that have emerged due to the increased attention given to marginalized communities regarding deadly force, officer discretion, and media perception.  
  • Black Hills Film Festival in Hill City received $4,000 in support of the 2017 Film Festival, which features the theme “Reel SD Stories Race & Civility.” The festival is April 26-29 in Hill City and will include the screening of the feature film “Neither Wolf nor Dog,” which is based Kent Nerburn’s book, followed by a panel discussion on the topic “Race and Civility.” The festival will feature several other film screenings and discussions.   
  • Heritage Hall Museum and Archives in Freeman was awarded $3,500 for the formalization and digital recording of “Three Groups, One Story: The Journey That Built a South Dakota Community” presentation.  The presentation follows three ethnic/religious groups from their beginnings in Western Europe, their move to Russia and later to America, and convergence in what became the community of Freeman, uniting these three distinct cultural groups.
  • Crow Creek Tribal Schools in Stephan received $3,000 in support of “Annual Native Week,” a time of celebration and discussion from May 1-5 during which students, staff, and surrounding community focus on education and communication. The week is filled with speakers and presenters in the school and culminates with a traditional pow-wow.  
  • Dakota State University in Madison was awarded $2,500 for “Honoring the Dead: A Digital Archive of the Insane Indian Asylum.” DSU is creating a digital, searchable archive of primary documents related to the Insane Indian Asylum that existed in Canton from 1903 to 1934. The archive is currently available only at distant locations, and the purpose of digitizing the documents is to bring restorative justice to the community. The database will include letters, patient descriptions, requests for services, and other documents.

Grants Being Considered for May 

SDHC is accepting major grant applications for the next cycle until Feb. 28. Board members will confer this spring to consider those major grant (more than $1,000) applications. Mini grant (under $1,000) applications are accepted on a rolling basis. Applications are at

SDHC encourages proposals that promote humanities discussions on Race and Civility and will again give special consideration to organizations applying for projects that highlight the role of such conversations in South Dakota.

Proposals addressing the Race & Civility initiative will again be allowed to exceed SDHC’s $7,000 limit due to special matching funding provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities.