Welcome To

Conversation SD

Stories from the Prairies to the Badlands
About Us

Our project seeks to gather and share the stories of the residents of South Dakota and the native nations that share the same geography in order to generate a more expansive, compassionate, and inclusive definition of what it means to be a South Dakotan.

We reason that if membership and belonging are dependent on citizenship, the definition of citizen urgently needs to be interrogated. We must ask: Who is included? Who is excluded? How and why? By collecting and analyzing oral history narratives, primary sources, and artifacts, and by developing and hosting discussion events and digital platforms, we seek to equip the inhabitants of South Dakota with the necessary tools to ask and answer such difficult and pressing questions. As humanities scholars, we harness the power of narrative to help people examine their ideas about identity, feel more connected to others, and become more informed and effective members of their community, state, and nation. 

We are interviewing people from across our communities in order to document their experiences, beliefs, struggles and successes. Currently, our state population is estimated to be 858,469 spread out over 75,000 square miles —an average 10.7 people per square mile. The distance between our residents is more than metaphoric and the efforts to build connections between them is physical, as well as emotional, psychological, and ideological. We make these stories available on this website in order to cultivate a deeper familiarity with the places, traditions, events, and individuals who collectively shape our state. These diverse voices refute the single-stream narratives we hear in the news, on social media, and in the echo-chambers of our circle of acquaintances. We include photos, artifacts, and other primary documents to contextualize their experiences and history.

Locations Map

Where our stories come from



Thank You

We gratefully acknowledge the support of the South Dakota Humanities Council, the SDSU PHI | Public Humanities Institute, and the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences at South Dakota State University.

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Dissemination Event 2: The Thanksgiving Play

November 18, 2021

The Thanksgiving Play, performed November 18-21, 2021 In Fall 2021, we worked with the SDSU Theater department on a production of The Thanksgiving Play by Larissa FastHorse. We developed a pre-show experience that would provide context for the play and help the audience members build connections between the issues on stage and in their own […]

Dissemination Event 1: Community Conversation

April 28, 2021

In association with students enrolled in an advanced Oral History seminar led by Dr. Bassett, we hosted a community roundtable over Zoom in Spring 2021. At this event, we shared some preliminary analysis of the themes emerging from our interviews including the role of the Arts, the language of treaties, and the limits of ‘Midwest […]

We encourage you to explore this site and hear the voices of your neighbors. If you would like to contribute your voice to the conversation, please contact us.

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