SDHC Board Awards $40K in Statewide Grants

Ten major grants were approved for funding during the South Dakota Humanities Council spring grant cycle.

During its recent meeting in Pierre, the SDHC Board of Directors awarded grants totaling $40,000 to organizations across South Dakota for programs occurring after May 1.

The South Dakota Humanities Council is a statewide non-profit organization whose sole purpose is to provide humanities programming for South Dakotans. Major grant applicants must involve humanities professionals and include the humanities as a central focus of the program.

With the spring grant cycle completed, SDHC is now accepting major grant applications for programs after Nov. 1. Board members will confer this fall to consider those major grant (more than $1,000) applications, which are due Oct. 15. Applications for mini grants (under $1,000) are being accepted on a rolling basis. Forms are available on our grants page

The following organizations were funded for their programs occurring after Dec. 1:

The Wo Lakota project received an SDHC Grant.

Exploring Tribal Reconnection and Artistry 

The West River Foundation in Rapid City was awarded $5,000 for "Cultural Reconnection Through Story," a project that will make the rich library of elder interviews from the WoLakota Project website available in a new format for access by inmates in the S.D. prison system. This library of resources is currently being used in schools across the state but has been inaccessible to inmates due to its online nature. Some inmates have experienced these interviews and stories through a South Dakota Humanities Council-sponsored scholar visit by Dr. Scott Simpson and Sharla Steever.

The "Shamus Project" in Rapid City received $3,000 to support its second annual Indigenous Writers Festival "Celebration of Native Women," in Rapid City. The June 22-23 event will feature indigenous writers, illustrators, poets and songwriters in meet and greet sessions, poetry readings, panels, round tables and more. Keynote speakers include authors Virginia Driving Hawk Sneve, Heid Erdrich, Linda Hogan, Jeanie O'Brien and more. A closing program will feature singers, songwriters and musicians.

Sinte Gleska University on the Rosebud Sioux Reservation received $2,000 for the Northern Plains Indian Arts Market Jurors' Forum, which will feature speakers who have documented expertise and knowledge of contemporary and traditional Native art forms, representing 35 identified Northern Plains Tribes. Programs will be presented to students, residents and visitors in Brookings, Vermillion and Sioux Falls Sept. 27. Individual juror criticism, trends and application of today's art forms as they contribute to and build on Northern Plains Tribes history, diversity and traditions will be the central theme of their presentations and discussion.

Celtic Faire and a Legendary S.D. Figure

NESD Celtic Faire & Games in Aberdeen received $2,000 for "Bringing the World to Aberdeen," a program created to bring Celtic culture to life. Events include storytelling, poetry reading and demonstrations on blacksmithing, leather making, wood carving, sheep herding, cooking and more. Fun and educational and intended for all ages, the program will be held in Aberdeen Sept. 14- 15. A leather maker, blacksmiths, green wood spoon carvers and actors and actresses will perform throughout the entire event, which will be held from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and 8:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday.

The Futuro Media Group in Harlem, N.Y. received $7,000 for the "Unladylike" documentary shorts series to research, create a short video about, and engage South Dakota and U.S. audiences in discussion of the life of Zitkála-Šá (1876–1938), a Native American musician, educator and civil rights activist born on the Yankton Sioux Reservation.

It is part of a multimedia series called "Unladylike," featuring unsung American women from a century ago and the studying how Progressive Era (1890s-1920s) factors and sensibilities spurred women to action and challenged traditional gender roles. Zitkála-Šá (1876–1938), also known as Gertrude Simmons Bonnin, was the granddaughter of Sitting Bull who went on to become a well-known musician, writer, political activist and lobbyist.

Zitkála-Šá (1876–1938), also known as Gertrude Simmons Bonnin, was the granddaughter of Sitting Bull who went on to become a well-known musician, writer, political activist and lobbyist.

Friends of the Middle Border, formerly known as Dakota Discovery Museum.

The Dakota Discovery Museum exhibit, "Dakota Diaspora," includes photographs, art, artifacts, interviews and six program events with discussion components. It is funded through a South Dakota Humanities Council grant.  

Children's Events and Meaningful Exhibits

Aberdeen Area Arts Council in Aberdeen received $1,000 for "Storybook Land Festival," an annual celebration in Aberdeen July 20-21. It started as a single-day event and has grown into a two-day event. It is set up as a festival for children of all ages that promotes children's literature and the importance of reading. The festival also features musical entertainment, hands-on art and craft opportunities, costume characters and a showing of a movie.

Dakota Discovery Museum (also known as Friends of the Middle Border) in Mitchell received $7,000 for "Dakota Diaspora: Jews in South Dakota," and "Transfer of Memory." The museum exhibit, "Dakota Diaspora," includes photographs, art, artifacts, interviews and six program events with discussion components and tells the story of Jewish people in South Dakota's history and their cultural contribution. "Transfer of Memory," a traveling exhibition, adds the stories of Holocaust survivors who settled in the region following World War II. A significant component is the work of Dakota Wesleyan students who conducted interviews, networked with various South Dakota Jewish families and acquired exhibit items on loan. 

South Dakota State University in Brookings.University of South Dakota in Vermillion.

The University of South Dakota in Vermillion and South Dakota State University in Brookings recently received grants from the South Dakota Humanities Council, a statewide non-profit organization that funds humanities projects. 

University Events

The South Dakota State University English Department in Brookings was awarded $4,310 for the "Conference of the Midwestern American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies" (MWASECS 2018) in Sioux Falls. The 2018 conference, co-hosted by SDSU and USD, will explore the topic "Eighteenth-Century Frontiers," with presentations on 18th century life in downtown Sioux Falls at the Holiday Inn City Centre Oct. 12-13. Schedule information will be finalized and released this summer.

The University of South Dakota History Department in Vermillion received a research grant in the amount of $2,000 for a program called "South Dakota Woman Suffrage." The grant will support research by Molly Rozum to study the Pickler Family Papers and the Woman Suffrage Movement Papers at the South Dakota State Historical Society Archives at Pierre. It will also fund Rozum's public presentations at educational institutions in South Dakota. Rozum will focus on the history of "woman" suffrage in South Dakota and within the Northern Plains states.

USD also received a grant of $6,629 for the 2018 John R. Milton Writers' Conference, which will feature writers, scholars, and award-winning authors from across the country Oct. 25-27 in Vermillion. For three days, they will participate in creative writing panels, readings, workshops, and other sessions that focus on media, cultural, and literary studies—all exploring the theme, "This Lonely Frontier: Exploring Boundaries of Space, Identity, Genre." Participants will include faculty and students from USD as well as other institutions of higher education. Readings will be open to the public and free to attendees.

Apply for an SDHC Grant

Organizations interested in humanities grants are encouraged to apply at our grants page

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