about us

Events & Educational Opportunities

History Conference

Registration (online only) is now available for the 2021 History Conference of the South Dakota State Historical Society. The conference will be a virtual Zoom event held Friday and Saturday, April 23-24. The theme, organized by Society Museum staff, is "South Dakota Icons" featuring well-known people, places and things in our state.

The cost of the conference is $10 for State Historical Society members and $25 for nonmembers. Educators can pick up 12 contact hours toward a certificate renewal credit at no extra charge.

For more information about the conference, please contact Jay Smith, Museum Director, at 605-773-3798. For information on becoming a State Historical Society member, please contact Jeff Mammenga, Membership Coordinator, at 605-773-6000.


To register, please click here: History Conference Registration

Mark your calendars now to attend this exciting event to be held Apr. 23-24, 2021



Friday, April 23:

Registration 8:00-5:00

Opening Remarks, Dr. Benjamin Jones, 8:30 - 8:40

Conference Overview, Dr. Brad Tennant, 8:45 - 8:55

Session 1, 9:00 - 9:50: Lydia Austin, "Custer State Park: An Iconic State Park"

Session 2, 10:00 - 10:50: Andrew Dunehoo, "Crazy Horse Memorial: Three Facets, One Mission"

Session 3, 11:00 - 11:50: Troy Magnuson, "Celebrating 100 Years of Corn Palace History"

Session 4, 12:30 - 1:20: Blaine Kortemeyer "Expectations of an Icon"

Session 5, 1:30 - 2:20: Taylor McKeown, "Ada B. Caldwell: An Enduring Legacy in the Arts"

Session 6, 2:30 - 3:20: Kevin Kuchenbecher, "Preserving Deadwood: An Old West Icon"

Session 7, 3:30 - 4:20: Emma Garvin, "The History of the Rally and The Sturgis Motorcycle Museum"


Saturday, April 24

Registration, 8:00 - 2:00

Moderator Announcements, Jay Smith, 8:50 - 8:55

Session 8, 9:00 - 9:50: Dr. Craig Howe, "Two Things You Do Not Know about Wounded Knee"

Session 9, 10:00 - 10:50: Janet Gritzner, "Our Towns: Changing Form and Function of Agricultural Small Towns and Villages"

Session 10, 11:00 - 11:50: Claire Scarborough, "The Women Behind the Movement: Suffragists in South Dakota"

Awards Ceremony Video 12:15 - 12:45

Session 11, 1:00 - 1:50: Dr. Benjamin Jones, "South Dakota's Icon: Joe Foss"

Session 12, 2:00 - 2:50: Pamela Smith Hill, "Becoming an Icon: Laura Ingalls Wilder in South Dakota"

Concluding Remarks, Dr. Ben Jones, 3:00 - 3:10


Friday, April 23:

Session 1, 9:00 - 9:50   Lydia Austin, Custer State Park, "Custer State Park: An Iconic State Park"

Bio:  Lydia Austin works as the Interpretive Programs Manager for Custer State Park, a position she has held for over six years. During that time she has been an integral part of a number of modifications in the park, including the construction of the new Bison Center, the main Visitor Center, and the revamping of the Peter Norbeck Outdoor Education Center. Along with her team she organizes programming the park offers, as well as a number of the large events. She has also restored and manages the Park's historic archives. Lydia has worked in the interpretive field since 2005; she started out as a seasonal employee at Custer State Park and went on to working at a number of national parks before returning to the Black Hills with her husband and two boys. She is passionate about sharing the rich history of this area. You will often find Lydia exploring the great outdoors she calls home with her family.


Session 2, 10:00 - 10:50   Andrew Dunehoo, Crazy Horse, "Crazy Horse Memorial: Three Facets, One Mission"

Bio:  Andrew L. Dunehoo has been working in the museum field for nearly 17 years, starting as a Historical Interpreter with the Johnson County Museum in Shawnee Kansas in 2004, then moving to Colorado where he served for ten years as an educator and eventual Director, for the City of Fort Morgan, followed by becoming a Cultural Division director for the Town of Windsor. For the last three and a half years Andrew has been the Museum Curator & Director of Cultural Affairs for The Indian Museum of North America at Crazy Horse Memorial, where he directs the staff of the Museum and operates all onsite Cultural Programs working with Native and Non Native performers, speakers, and artists. Andrew has worked with Native American history, art, and culture most of his career, and loves to share his passion for education and historical preservation with the nearly 1.2 million visitors to the Memorial each year. He is proud to call the Black Hills of South Dakota home for him and his family of six.


Session 3, 11:00 - 11:50   Troy Magnuson, Corn Palace, "Celebrating 100 Years of Corn Palace History"

Bio:  I have been employed by the Mitchell Area Chamber of Commerce Tourism Division for the last 35 years, during that time I've given over 8000 tours of the Corn Palace to people from all over the world. In my personal life I am active in the community by belonging to the Mitchell Lions Club (two terms as President), Mitchell Masonic Lodge (Past Master), Corn Palace Shrine Club (two terms as President), Mitchell Masonic Building Association (President for life), El Riad Clown Unit (PoPcOrN's the name...clowning's the game), and The Mitchell Area Historical Society.


Session 4, 12:30 - 1:20   Blaine Kortemeyer, Mount Rushmore, "Expectations of an Icon"

Bio:  Blaine Kortemeyer is the Assistant Chief of Interpretation and Education at Mount Rushmore National Memorial, and one of the founding members of the Sculpture Preservation Team. Blaine grew up in Corsica, South Dakota. He is married to Joey, his bride of 24 years. They have 3 children, Alex, AJ and Kellyn. Blaine has been a Park Ranger for 30 years, the last 20 at Mount Rushmore National Memorial.


Session 5, 1:30 - 2:20   Taylor McKeown, SD Artists, "Ada B. Caldwell: An Enduring Legacy in the Arts"

Bio:  Taylor McKeown is the Collections Curator at the South Dakota Art Museum in Brookings. He received his Bachelor's degree in History from South Dakota State University and recently completed graduate studies in Museum Studies at Johns Hopkins University. He is currently researching the life of South Dakota artist, professor, and arts advocate Ada B. Caldwell.


Session 6, 2:30 - 3:20   Kevin Kuchenbecher, Deadwood, "Preserving Deadwood: An Old West Icon"

Bio:  Kevin Kuchenbecker has served as the Historic Preservation Officer for the City of Deadwood since May 2006. He has been actively involved in downtown revitalization, economic development, heritage tourism and historic preservation for the past thirty years. He is a certified Economic Development Finance Professional, Main Street Management Professional and completed Preservation Leadership Training. Preceding his position in Deadwood, Kevin was Executive Director for Heritage Ohio and Downtown Ohio, Inc. from 1997 to 2005, the Vice-President of the Hancock County Convention and Visitors Bureau in Findlay, Ohio from 1992 to 1997 where he was also a part-time faculty member at Owens Community College. From 1989 to 1992 he was the Community Development Coordinator for Belle Fourche, South Dakota. Kevin also served on the Board of Directors for statewide organizations such as the Governor's Advisory Board for the State Main Street Program in South Dakota, Downtown Ohio, Inc., Leadership Ohio, Greater Ohio, and Preserve South Dakota as well as numerous local boards including the Chamber of Commerce, Deadwood History, Inc., Adams Museum & House, Days of 76 Museum and the Lead Rifle & Pistol Club. Kevin is a South Dakota native being born and raised in Philip and went to South Dakota State University majoring in History with an emphasis in Architecture.


Session 7, 3:30 - 4:20   Emma Garvin, Stugis, "The History of the Rally & The Sturgis Motocycle Museum"

Bio:  Emma Garvin has acted as the Executive Director of the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum & Hall of Fame since 2018. After attending college in Iowa, Emma ran non-profit programs in the Midwest for many years, working with a few of the largest nonprofit organizations; Girl Scouts, United Way and Habitat for Humanity. While the bulk of Emma's career was spent focused on corporate fundraising and programs for seniors and veterans, she was personally involved in the motorcycle industry. Emma spent many years in Anamosa, Iowa and watched the National Motorcycle Museum transform from a small Main Street theater to a massive commercial space. Her role at the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum has married her love for the motorcycle industry with her knowledge of nonprofits. Since joining the Museum Emma completed a 3500 sq. ft. expansion, streamlined expenses, and improved educational opportunities within the Museum. In 2020, Emma was the Sturgis Area Chamber of Commerce Board President and continues to play an active role in the success of the downtown businesses in Sturgis. 

Saturday, April 24:

Session 8, 9:00 - 9:50   Dr. Craig Howe, Wounded Knee, "Two Things You Do Not Know about Wounded Knee"

Bio:  Craig Howe, founder and Director of the Center for American Indian Research and Native Studies (CAIRNS), earned a Ph.D. in architecture and anthropology from the University of Michigan. He served as Deputy Assistant Director for Cultural Resources at the National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC, and Director of the D'Arcy McNickle Center for American Indian History at the Newberry Library in Chicago. Howe has authored articles and book chapters on numerous topics, including tribal histories, Native studies, museum exhibitions, and community collaborations. He has developed innovative tribal histories projects and creative museum exhibitions, lectures on American Indian topics across the U.S., and provides professional development and cultural awareness training to schools and organizations. Howe was raised and lives on his family's cattle ranch in the Lacreek District of the Pine Ridge Reservation where he is designing and building Wingsprings, an architecturally unique retreat and conference center that is featured in New Architecture on Indigenous Lands. He is a citizen of the Oglala Sioux Tribe.


Session 9, 10:00 - 10:50   Janet Gritzner, Small Town South Dakota, "Our Towns:  Changing Form and Function of Agricultural Small Towns and Villages"

Bio:  Janet H. Gritzner is Professor Emerita of Geography at South Dakota State University. She earned a BA and MA in Geography from University of Maryland, College Park and PhD in Geography from Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge. Trained as a cultural geographer, she has a long- standing interest in landscape evolution. Moving to Brookings in 1980, she became fascinated with the small-town life in South Dakota. In recent years, she has visited some 70 towns in the eastern part of the State, observing, recording, and mingling with town and village people. She has looked at patterns of town development through time and space. Her major responsibility at South Dakota State University has been as an instructor in the Geographic Information Science program. Dr. Gritzner's research interests are broad-based and include small town development, historic preservation, hydrologic modeling in Geographic Information Systems, LIDAR applications, prairie wetlands, place name generics, and Caribbean food systems. She is currently a member of the City of Brookings Historic Preservation Commission and a board member of the Brookings County Historical Society.


Session 10, 11:00 - 11:50   Claire Scarborough, Suffragists, "The Women Behind the Movement: Suffragists in South Dakota"

Bio:  Since falling in love with the American Girl stories found at the local library, Claire had a passion for women and history. She had the opportunity to spend her senior year of researching suffrage in South Dakota with mentor, Kelly Kirk, which gave her the unique opportunity to look through the microfilm of the South Dakota Messenger--South Dakota's only suffrage newspaper. She currently works as the Public Relations Coordinator for The Mammoth Site of Hot Springs and will soon be pursue an advanced degree in history.


Session 11, 1:00 - 1:50   Dr. Benjamin Jones, "South Dakota's Icon: Joe Foss"

Bio:  Benjamin Jones was born and raised in Sioux Falls and De Smet, SD.  After earning his History degree and his Air Force commission at SDSU, he served a variety of positions in the Pacific, Europe, Afghanistan, and in the United States.  The Air Force supported his graduate work in history and after earning his Masters degree at Nebraska in 1999 and his PhD at Kansas in 2008 he joined the Air Force Academy Department of History immediately upon completing each degree.  After 23 years on active duty, Ben, his wife Suzy, and their three children returned to South Dakota where he became Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Dakota State University in 2013.  In January of 2019, Governor Noem appointed him as Secretary of Education and he served in that position until assuming the roll as State Historian and Director of the SD State Historical Society last December.  He's the author of Eisenhower's Guerrillas: The Jedburghs, the Maquis, and the Liberation of France published by Oxford University Press and various other essays or chapters on Afghanistan or WWII Europe


Session 12, 2:00 - 2:50   Pamela Smith Hill, Laura Ingalls Wilder, "Becoming an Icon: Laura Ingalls Wilder in South Dakota"

Bio:  At 18, Pamela Smith Hill sold her first story to her hometown newspaper and has been writing professionally ever since.  She is the editor of Laura Ingalls Wilder's Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography, a New York Times bestseller, and the author of the award-winning biography, Laura Ingalls Wilder: A Writer's Life. She has published three young adult novels and has taught creative and professional writing classes at universities in Oregon, Washington, and Colorado. Her Missouri State University massive open online classes on Laura Ingalls Wilder reached over 10,000 students worldwide.  Her books have been recognized by the Junior Library Guild, the United States Civil War Center, Oregon Book Awards, Western Writers of America, Women Writing the West, the New York Public Library, the National Indie Excellence Committee, and the Mark Twain Award Committee. She lives in Portland, Oregon. Visit her website at

Future History Conferences
  • April 22-23, 2022 - Ramkota Hotel and Conference Center in Pierre
  • 2023 - Rapid City
  • April 26-27, 2024 - Ramkota Hotel and Conference Center in Pierre


History Awards

The South Dakota State Historical Society presented its annual Governor's Awards for History on April 28 at its annual history conference in Rapid City.

Recipients included, seated from left:
Jennifer McIntyre, accepting for Margaret Preston of Sioux Falls, Schell Award for best article in "South Dakota History;"

Kenneth Wetz of Newell and Pierce McDowell of Sioux Falls, Individual;

Melvin Fathke of Avon, History Teacher of the Year;

Ross Lamphere of Sturgis, Nolin Monument Restoration Committee, Organizational Award;

and Paula Adam-Burchill and Karl Adam, accepting the Robinson Award for Lifetime Achievement on behalf of their mother, the late Patricia Adam of Pierre.

Presenting the awards were Jay D. Vogt, standing left, Director of the State Historical Society at the Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre; Don Kirkegaard, Secretary of the state Department of Education; and Brad Tennant, President of the Society's Board of Trustees.

Award Descriptions


Robinson Memorial Award

A. Description: The highest and most prestigious award given for history in South Dakota, this award is named for Doane Robinson and his son Will G. Robinson, who began collecting the priceless artifacts and relics which led to the development of the Robinson Museum (Cultural Heritage Museum) as it is known today. The award is given only periodically to the most deserving individuals.
B. Qualifications: The qualification for this award is a lifetime of dedicated and distinguished service to the preservation of the history of South Dakota.
C. Procedure: Persons may be nominated by either the Board of Trustees or the Historical Society staff. Nominations are introduced during the regular State Historical Society Board meetings, and are recorded on the Robinson Memorial Award nomination form.
D. Selection: Nominees are evaluated and recommended by the Awards committee, whereupon a final candidate is chosen by the Board of Trustees.
E. Award Description: A unique, personalized award will be given to each recipient. In addition, the person's name will be listed on the Governor's Awards for History display in the Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre.



Herbert S. Schell Award

A. Description: Formerly the Robinson Award, this award was first awarded in 1974 and renamed in 1989 to honor Dr. Herbert S. Schell, the first person to receive the Will G. Robinson Award. Dr. Schell is the leading published authority on South Dakota history. The award was created to honor the author of the most outstanding article published in South Dakota History in each volume.
B. Qualifications: The recipient must have had an article published in the given volume of South Dakota History
C. Procedure: All published articles in South Dakota History are considered for this award both before publication by outside readers and afterward by the Publications Awards Committee.
D. Selection: The five member Publications Awards Committee judges the year's major articles according to the following criteria: (1) The depth of scholarly research; (2) the readability of the article; and (3) the contributions the article makes to the historical knowledge of South Dakota and the surrounding region. The Schell Award winner is then submitted to the Western History Association to compete for the prestigious Billington Award.
E. Award Description: The winner of the Schell Award will receive a personalized award and a $250 cash award. In addition, the winner will also have his/her name listed on the Governor's Awards for History display in the Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre.



Individual Award: Both Professional and Non-Professional

A. Description: Introduced in 1989, this annual award was created to honor an individual whose efforts demonstrate outstanding dedication and commitment to excellence in the sharing and preservation of South Dakota history. These efforts can be in such forms as written, audiovisual, oral works, etc., and in such fields as archaeology, museology, fund-raising, etc.
B. Qualifications: To receive this award, the recipient must be shown to have been a supportive and dedicated advocate for South Dakota history.
C. Procedure: Nominations may be made by anyone on the Individual Award for History nomination form.
D. Selection: The nominees will be screened and one candidate recommended to the State Historical Society Board of Trustees by the Awards Committee (made up of three Board of Trustee members appointed by the Board President). The Society Board of Trustees will make the final approval.
E. Award Description: The Individual Award recipient will receive a personalized award and will also have his/her name listed on the Governor's Awards for History display in the Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre.



Organizational Award: Both Professional and Non-Professional

A. Description: Begun in 1989, this award is given annually to one organization whose efforts demonstrate outstanding dedication and commitment to excellence in the sharing and preservation of South Dakota history.
B. Qualifications: The organization must be shown to have been a staunch supporter of South Dakota history, and it must show exemplary service to this cause.
C. Procedure: Nominations may be made by anyone on the Organizational Award for History nomination form.
D. Selection: The nominees will be screened and one candidate recommended to the State Historical Society Board of Trustees by the Awards Committee (made up of three Board of Trustee members appointed by the Board President). The Society Board of Trustees will make the final approval.
E. Award Description: The Organizational Award winner will receive a personalized award and will also have their name listed on the Governor's Awards for History display in the Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre.



History Teacher of the Year Award

A. Description: Established in 1989, the History Teacher of the Year Award was created to recognize and honor those persons exhibiting excellence in teaching history to elementary through high school students.
B. Qualifications: The nominees may be either elementary teachers or secondary teachers of history or social studies in public or private schools. They must be teaching at least half-time during a school year and have a minimum of three years teaching experience in their field or the history field.
C. Procedure: Teachers may be nominated by students, parents of students, colleagues, administrators, or any person who is familiar with the teacher's work. After all nominations have been received, the nominees are sent an application packet which is filled out and returned for the judging committee to review.
D. Selection: The Awards Committee sets up a separate judging committee each year consisting of four individuals knowledgeable in the field of education to review the nominees. Qualifying nominees are then recommended to the Awards Committee, which reviews the nominees and recommends one to the Board of Trustees. If approved by the Board, this nominee is named the award recipient.
E. Award Description: The recipient of this award will be presented with a personalized award and will have his/her name listed on the Governor's Awards for History display in the Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre.



Nomination Form

Forms may be obtained from:
State Historical Society
900 Governors Drive, Pierre, South Dakota
or download a PDF copy below

Individual Nomination form

Organization Nomination form

Teacher Application Form

Teacher Nomination Form

Nomination forms are due to the State Historical Society in early March. Award winners will be chosen before the State Historical Society annual meeting in the spring and will be invited to attend the meeting to receive their awards.


South Dakota Treasure Chest for 4th-Grade History


605-123-4567 | Contact us! | Twitter | Facebook