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USD Hosts Northern Great Plains History Conference

September 16, 2023

Throughout 2023, scholars and activists have marked the 50th anniversary of the 1973 Wounded Knee Occupation by reflecting on the impact of that event on the movement for Indigenous rights.

This fall, the Northern Great Plains History Conference takes on that topic from a historical perspective. With support from an SDHC grant, the University of South Dakota hosts the conference Sept. 27-30 at the Holiday Inn City Center in Sioux Falls.

The choice for USD to host the 2023 conference is a significant and symbolic one, said conference organizer Molly Rozum.

“The University of South Dakota hosted the Northern Great Plains History Conference (NGPHC), a traveling regional conference, for the first time in 1973. Fifty years later, USD will host the NGPHC for the seventh time,” she said. “For 2023, the NGPHC issued a call for papers that invited scholars to present on the theme of Indigenous rights and the history of the 1973 Wounded Knee Occupation.”

The Northern Great Plains History Conference brings scholars, historians, and other individuals involved in historical inquiry together to explore events and issues affecting South Dakota and its larger region. Presentations cover a variety of historical subjects, with themes changing annually.

The 2023 conference will include significant public programming to honor the anniversary of the Wounded Knee Occupation, including a keynote address and a panel devoted to community remembrance of the event.

Highlighted speakers for the 2023 conference include the following:

  • Kent Blansett, Langston Hughes associate professor in the Department of History at the University of Kansas
  • Elise Boxer, associate professor of history and Native American studies at the University of South Dakota
  • Molly P. Rozum, associate professor of history at the University of South Dakota
  • Sheila McManus, professor of history at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Cananda
  • Steven Schechter, filmmaker (“Mary Silliman’s War” and “The Homefront”) and founder of Ravanna Films

The Northern Great Plains History Conference works to advance public knowledge on events important to the history of the state of South Dakota, the Northern Great Plains region, prairies and plains grasslands cultures, the Middle West, and the United States.

The participation of Indigenous persons and scholars who study Native American activism helps to encourage cross-cultural discussion and mutual understanding of diverse perspectives in history. Discussion helps build avenues for reconciliation and greater understanding of human nature to strengthen the historical awareness of diverse communities of settlers and Indigenous nations among South Dakotans and scholars of the region.

The conference began in 1966 as a binational conference supported by the University of North Dakota and the University of Manitoba. It boasts a welcoming atmosphere for scholars and graduate students studying the history of the region, who attend from across the nation and internationally. It also serves as an intellectual base for many small colleges and universities within the broader region, from Montana and Wyoming to Wisconsin and Iowa, and it continues to serve Canadian scholars in the Prairie Provinces.

To learn more about the 2023 conference, visit

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