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SDHC Awards over $110,000 to Humanities Programs Statewide

June 24, 2023

The South Dakota Humanities Council has awarded $110,530 to nine different organizations to support humanities programs in communities across the state and online.

“The goals of these programs range from providing education about local history and Lakota culture to addressing cultural issues like suicide and intergroup understanding,” said SDHC Executive Director Ann Volin. “They represent the kind of grassroots humanities projects that are truly meaningful to our state’s citizens. SDHC is happy to support them.”

The board of directors of the statewide non-profit, whose sole mission is to deliver humanities programs to South Dakotans, approved the grant proposals at its latest board meeting. Successful applicants submitted projects led by humanities professionals and featuring humanities as a central focus of their program, event, or research project.

The following organizations received awards:

  • Friends of the Brookings Public Library in Brookings received $3,725 for “Brookings Community Intergroup Dialogues.” The Brookings Public Library and Brookings Inclusive Collaborative will host small group discussions over challenging topics from August 26 through October 24. These Intergroup Dialogues enable participants to better understand each other and address difficult issues through civil discourse. Learn more at

  • South Dakota Shakespeare Festival in Vermillion received $12,800 for “2023 South Dakota Shakespeare Festival.” The theme of this festival, June 11-18, was “A Celebration of Shakespeare.” A 5K walk/run race was held, as well as a Shakespeare-inspired Improv night and a performance by “The Sonnet Man.” The festival was held in-person in Vermillion’s Prentis Park, with some events recorded and uploaded online to allow more patrons to “attend.” Learn more at
  • Friends of the Levitt in Sioux Falls received $3,750 for “AnceSTARS.” A collaboration between Levitt at the Falls, Sioux Falls Juneteenth, Augustana University, Promising Futures, and Pierce and Nneena Freelon, AnceSTARS took place June 12-18. The program culminated with middle school students enrolled in Augustana’s Avid Media Creation Camp producing original audio storytelling podcasts based on interviews and audio artifacts that document and celebrate the stories of their own ancestors. Learn more at
  • Dakota Wesleyan University and their Office of Institutional Advancement in Mitchell received $19,977 for “POWER OF POSSIBILITY: From Proposal to Presentation – A Documentary on the Creation of the Public Sculpture in South Dakota and Its Impact on the Community.” The soon-to-be film will focus on the artists Joan Benefiel and Jeremy Leichman and their process of using translucent resin to create the first public artwork in South Dakota for the new School of Business, Leadership, and Innovation at Dakota Wesleyan University. The film will share the story of the artwork’s creation from start to finish, make the public aware of this addition to the artistic landscape in South Dakota, and facilitate community conversation about the impact and importance of public art. Learn more at  
  • Lost&Found in Sioux Falls received $30,000 for “Storytelling is Suicide Prevention: #30Days30Stories.” Lost&Found will share the stories of 30 South Dakotans who have discovered resources, resilience, and hope in the face of mental health challenges and/or suicidal ideation, risks, attempts, and loss. This event will use digital media along with community events throughout the state to highlight the need for suicide prevention statewide – and the hope that can be found in shared stories. Learn more at
  • Friends of the Children – He Sapa in Rapid City received $4,625 for “Monthly Lakota Cultural & Language instruction with Lakota Elder Mr. Richard Two Dogs.” A prestigious Lakota wisdom keeper and fluent speaker, Two Dogs will share his knowledge with Indigenous youth, families, and the public-at-large through meaningful monthly cultural teachings in the Rapid City and Pine Ridge Reservation area from June 2023 to June 2024. Classes will also be shared via Zoom. Learn more at
  • South Dakota Art Museum SDSU in Brookings received $10,750 for “Signe Stuart: Events in Time and Space Retrospective Catalog.” The exhibition, “Signe Stuart: Events in Time and Space” will be on display at the South Dakota Art Museum from October 14, 2023, to March 2, 2024. It will include images of Stuart’s work, a transcribed interview with Stuart conducted by art historian Mary Anne Redding, and two scholarly articles written by notable art historians MaLin Wilson-Powell and Dr. Leda Cempellin. Learn more at
  • Lake County Historical Society in Madison received $20,000 for “The Boyd Family Wagon Exhibit.” The exhibit will incorporate such additional interpretive elements to immerse visitors in the past as interactive activities that answer questions like “What was pioneering like?”, “What happened in a covered wagon?”, and others. The exhibit will also feature somewhat more advanced perspectives, including the experiences and viewpoints of area Native Americans who were affected by the homesteading movement, and those of women homesteaders. These additional perspectives are vital to the presentation of a balanced, comprehensive review of the pioneer/homesteading movement in eastern South Dakota. Learn more at
  • University of South Dakota Department of History in Vermillion received $4,903 for “2023 Northern Great Plains History Conference.” 2023 marks the Fiftieth Anniversary of the occupation of Wounded Knee by young, diverse Indigenous and Lakota community activists, which brought attention to the struggle for sovereignty in Indian Country in South Dakota and across the United States. The event will feature a keynote speaker, a panel devoted to community remembrance of the 1973 Wounded Knee Occupation, and a temporary exhibit related to the 1973 event from the archives and oral history collection at USD. The conference will be held September 27-30. Learn more at

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