Voting Program Concludes, Recordings Available for Viewing

Exploring Civic History

The South Dakota Humanities Council’s popular Voting: Why It Matters program has concluded, but the sessions remain available for viewing online.

Running from December to April, Voting: Why It Matters included five discussions featuring guests such as Gloria Steinem, Louise Erdrich, Sally Roesch Wagner, Thomas E. Patterson and Robert V. Burns, as well as additional regional experts on voting access and engagement, particularly among Native Americans. The events, held via Zoom and streamed on Facebook Live, were free to all participants.

Discussions covered everything from women's rights movements to lawmakers' attempts to restrict ballot access. SDHC highlighted the strong voices of highly visible advocates like Gloria Steinem and Louise Erdrich, who have led efforts to expand voting rights for women and Native Americans, respectively.  

To moderate the discussions, SDHC tapped in-state partners and members of the SDHC Board of Directors. Facilitators included Lori Walsh, host of South Dakota Public Broadcasting’s In The Moment radio program, Amy Scott-Stolz, president of the League of Women Voters in South Dakota, and SDHC board members Tawa Ducheneaux, Kelly Kirk and Jay Perry.

“We were pleased to offer South Dakotans expert perspectives from intelligent and thoughtful experts - including authors, activists, scholars and lawmakers - on social and civic issues that continue to affect our democracy,” said program director Jennifer Widman, also the director of the South Dakota Festival of Books. “We reached many interested viewers and saw great audience engagement in the form of pertinent questions and comments.”

The program, funded by a $50,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and part of a national initiative, was created to educate South Dakotans on the importance of civic participation. Historical context and conversation are vital to state council efforts to promote the humanities.

We invite you to view the recordings below: each section includes a link to the videos and a brief event description.

Replay, Dec. 15, 2021: Telling The Untold Story of the Proud Influence of Indigenous Women on Women's Rights

"Screening and Discussion of Without a Whisper/Konnon:Kwe"| Professor Sally Roesch Wagner, Mohawk Bear Clan Mother Louise Herne (both featured in the film), and filmmaker Katsitsionni Fox discuss the film and its societal implications.


Replay, Feb. 18, 2021: Women' Rights Advocates Steinem, Wagner Explore Suffrage

"An Evening with Gloria Steinem" | Gloria Steinem and Sally Roesch Wagner discuss ideas that inspired the early suffragists and the various women's movements that followed.


Replay, March 9, 2021: Political Scientists Patterson, Burns Examine Voter Trends

"The Reappearing Voter" | Harvard professor and 2018 One Book South Dakota Author (Informing the News: The Need for Knowledge-Based Journalism) Thomas E. Patterson and South Dakota State University professor emeritus Robert V. Burns parse voter participation trends and recurring problems in American democracy.


Replay, March 25, 2021: SDPB Host Lori Walsh Interviews Louise Erdrich

"An Evening with Louise Erdrich" | SDPB radio host Lori Walsh interviews National Book Award winner Louise Erdrich about Native American electoral involvement and its inclusion in her fiction.


Replay, April 6, 2021: Experts Examine Native American Voter Access

"Who Votes in South Dakota?" | Experts Frank Pommersheim, Amy Scott-Stolz, and Rep. Tamara St. John examine voter access among the state's population, particularly Native Americans.

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.

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