Sunday, November 2, 2014

Celebrate: South Dakota, Bison, Picture Books!

Today is South Dakota's 125th Birthday. (North Dakota's, too, for that matter, but that's not what this post is about.) Yesterday was National Bison Day, and November is National Picture Book Month. That's a lot to celebrate!

South Dakota's best-known icon is probably Mount Rushmore, pictured above, in western South Dakota. South Dakota author Jean Patrick has written several books for the Mount Rushmore Society, including the picture books
Four Famous Faces (brand new) and Who Carved the Mountain? , both illustrated by Renee Graef.


Nearby, another mountain turned memorial stands as tribute to the first people who lived here. The work on Crazy Horse Memorial continues (pictured above), though carver Korczak Ziolkowski died in 1982. The grounds themselves provide The Indian Museum of North America,  the Native American Educational and Cultural Center,the carver's studio and home, a gift shop, and more.

The picture book Crazy Horse's Vision by Joseph Bruchac, illustrated by South Dakota-born S.D. Nelson, tells the story of how Crazy Horse becomes a brave warrior.

Though South Dakota's official state animal is the coyote, the mighty bison has long played a part in state history. Once nearly extinct because of over-hunting, bison herds now thrive across the state, including at ranches that raise them to sell for meat. 

One large herd that attracts tourists lives in Custer State Park in the Black Hills. We once found ourselves amid a herd of buffalo trying to cross the road we were on. Believe me, there's nothing to do but wait, and you do not want to get between a mother and baby!

South Dakota artist Donald F. Montileaux's picture book, Tatanka and the Lakota Peopletells part of a traditional creation story with the buffalo (tatanka) as hero. The story is told in illustrations, English, and Lakota.

This post is just a brushstroke of everything that is South Dakota. South Dakota is proud of its history and its resources and is ready to meet the next 125 years. Come and visit! In the meantime, find out more facts about South Dakota here.

(photographs copyright Jane Heitman Healy, 2012, all rights reserved)


  1. I know I'll share this with my son-in-law who is from South Dakota, Jane. Thanks for the picture books. I don't know of any of them. There was a piece about the Dakotas on The Writer's Almanac, today. Did you see it? Happy Birthday to your state!

    1. I did not see it and will look it up. Thanks for commenting and for sharing!

  2. The last time I saw Crazy Horse was in the mid 70's. Thanks for sharing more recent pictures of it!

    1. It has "grown up" quite a bit, Juliana! A dream is being realized. Thanks for stopping by.

  3. A fun post, Jane! Yay for statehood, memorials, bison, & picture books! Yay for Jean Patrick and her new book!

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