South Dakota

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General information

The lands of present day South Dakota were once part of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. Lewis and Clark explored the region in 1804–1806. Fort Pierre, the first permanent settlement, was established in 1817. South Dakota became the 40th state on Nov. 2, 1889. South Dakota's capital is Pierre, its most populous city is Sioux Falls.

Ranked 46th in population size among the states according to the 2000 U.S. census, South Dakota's estimated 2004 population was 770,883.

Mt. Rushmore, in the Black Hills of South Dakota, is famous for the likenesses of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt, which were carved in granite by Gutzon Borglum. A memorial to Crazy Horse is also being carved in granite near Custer.

Party Politics

South Dakota politics is dominated by the Republican Party and the state has not supported a Democratic presidential candidate since 1964 or elected a Democratic majority in the Legislature since 1936. In 2004, George W. Bush won the state's 3 electoral votes by the overwhelming margin of 22 percentage points with 59.9% of the vote. There are only five reliably Democratic counties in the state, most of them with primarily American Indian populations. Republicans have won the last seven gubernatorial elections and have controlled the legislature, with one brief interruption, for over thirty years. However, Democrats have been successful in winning election to Congress from South Dakota.

Several South Dakota Democrats have been notable national figures asl well. South Dakota Sen. George McGovern was Richard Nixon's Democratic opponent in the 1972 presidential election. Sen. Tom Daschle served in Congress for more than 25 years, and served as Senate Majority Leader. Daschle lost his seat in a historic political upset by former U.S. Representative John Thune at the end of a particularly nasty Republican smear campaign aginst Daschle. The 2004 election defeat marks the first time since 1952 a sitting Senate leader lost a bid for re-election.

Abortion

In February 2006, South Dakota became the first state since the Roe v Wade decision to pass a state law banning abortion outright (HB1215). However, the local group Focus South Dakota gathered 38,000 signatures, more than twice the minimum requirement, to suspend implementation of the bill, and refer it to the November ballot.

Native American issues

South Dakota has been a focus of Native American politics. There are many reservations and Indian people in the state. The events surrounding the massacre at Wounded Knee (wikipedia), often referred to as the last battle of the Indian Wars, occurred here in 1890. The Black Hills of South Dakota were promised to the Lakota Sioux in the Fort Laramie treaty, then illegally taken back at the time of the Black Hills gold rush in the 1870's. A 1980 Supreme Court case was decided in favor of Indian ownership of the Black Hills, but the Lakota have not accepted the offered settlement. The state has been the home of many prominent Indian leaders, including Crazy Horse, Black Elk, and Russell Means.

Congressional Delegation

State Government

Cities & Counties

  • South Dakota County Selection Map (U.S. Census)

Elections

South Dakota Democratic Party

South Dakota progressive resources

News, Etc

Political Blogs

See also

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