South Dakota

Dividing a territory is no easy matter as Dakotans discovered in the 1880s. Residents of the southern portion of Dakota Territory were eager to become a state. At a convention in 1883, representatives drafted a proposed state constitution. Voters of the forty-two counties approved it and the constitution was submitted to Congress. The Senate approved statehood for the portion of Dakota Territory south of latitude forty-six, but the measure didn’t pass in the House. Those determined to achieve statehood for South Dakota were undeterred. They held another convention in 1885. A new constitution was drafted and submitted to the voters. It passed overwhelmingly.

Division Day Banners

Jul 11, 2018

Creating North Dakota and South Dakota was no easy matter, with years of partisanship and multiple proposals tossed around for dividing Dakota Territory into states. One school of thought saw dividing Dakota into north and south as vital. About 500 delegates from the various counties convened in July of 1888 in Huron to hash out division of the territory.

Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer was busy in the summer of 1874. General Phil Sheridan had selected Custer’s Seventh Cavalry for an expedition to the Black Hills to scout out a possible site for an Army fort. Custer’s men were stationed at Fort Abraham Lincoln, across the Missouri River from Bismarck in Dakota Territory. Sheridan had first considered sending the expedition from Fort Laramie in Wyoming territory, but decided against it based on perceived hostilities from Native Americans.

President Lincoln appointed William A. Jayne, mayor of Springfield, Illinois, as the governor of the newly established Dakota Territory in the spring of 1861. Jayne had been Lincoln’s personal physician and an Illinois state lawmaker, and was only thirty-four years old.


If you’ve travelled around the Midwest, you may have seen signs for Butler Machinery. While you may have known it specializes in heavy equipment, you may not have known that this expanding company has its roots right here in North Dakota.

Joe Donnell

Aug 28, 2015

All text and audio copyright, 2015 by the Native American Development Center ©

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Lorraine Davis:           Perfect. Today we have the stories of resiliency of the Native American people. Tell us a little bit about yourself.