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Ben Jones

History 605 Host and South Dakota's State Historian
  • Much of history is an attempt to understand culture, and language is a window to culture like nothing else. So how can we understand the immigrants on the Northern Plains if we don’t speak their language? In the late 19th century, Germans left Europe in massive numbers and thousands settled in what is now South Dakota. What kind of culture did they bring with them? What kind of culture was created by them mixing with other cultures on the Northern Plains? German newspapers provide a great deal of insight on that and Istvan Gambocz has the rare talent to understand this aspect of South Dakota’s history. His article in the Fall 2021 South Dakota History won the Herbert S. Schell Prize for the best essay of the year.
  • The breaking of the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty and the creation of several smaller reservations in western South Dakota is often thought to have been President Ulysses Grant’s intent. However, historian Mary Stockwell argues in her book that Grant attempted to pursue a different policy, which included citizenship for American Indians. But despite his wishes, he was unable to make that happen. Understanding his circumstances is key to understanding a great deal of South Dakota’s history. I hope you enjoy my conversation with Mary Stockwell, the author of “Interrupted Odyssey: Ulysses S. Grant and the American Indians.”
  • The guest this time is you and me. We thought we’d wrap up the first season of History 605 with a review of how far we’ve come since we launched the podcast last July.
  • Where did the first Americans come from? Language similarities has pointed toward a link between the Dakota and certain Asian people groups for over a century. But a new book by paleogeneticist Jennifer Raff shares the state of knowledge known and debated by current archeologists and anthropologists. Specifically that the peopling of the Americas happened earlier than previously thought and in a more complicated way than what we've been taught in school. I hope you enjoy my conversation with Jennifer Raff, of the University of Kansas, about her new book, "Origin: A Genetic History of the Americas." See Twelvebooks.com
  • In this episode of History 605, historian Kurt Kemper shares with us that today's "March Madness" is a product of the arguments between schools on the purpose of athletics, cheating scandals, racial tensions, and even fights over the dribble rule. Kemper's curiosity about how the University of South Dakota won the 1958 national championship started him down the path resulting in this book. Kemper's book can be found here: www.press.uillinois.edu/books/?id=p085185
  • In this episode of History 605, Dr. Jones has a conversation with the accomplished historian of the Dakota Indian tribe, Gary Clayton Anderson. His most recent book is "Massacre in Minnesota: The Dakota War of 1862, The Most Violent Ethnic Conflict in American History." Guided by over twenty years of research about the era and the people involved, Anderson seeks to overcome the bias of so many other versions of this tragic event so that we can understand why it happened. A copy of the book can be found here: oupress.com/9780806164342/massacre-in-minnesota/
  • As we hear much about voting rights in the news, it's worth looking back at how women got the vote in the northern Plains. In this episode of History 605, we talk to historians Molly P. Rozum and Lori Ann Lahlum about their book, Equality at the Ballot Box. The book discusses how women's voting rights came about in North and South Dakota, Montana and Wyoming. The fascinating people and complicated politics of the era provide some wisdom for us today. The book is published by the South Dakota Historical Society Press and can be found at: sdhspress.com/books
  • How did George S. Mickelson come from behind to become Governor of South Dakota? In this episode of History 605 we speak to Paul Wilson who worked on Mickelson's campaign staff for both the 1986 and 1990 campaigns for Governor. His use of short but effective commercials speaking to voters and focused campaigning in selected parts of the state won the election for Mickelson. Wilson also crafted the 1990 State of the State address Mickelson introduced the Year of Reconciliation. The episode is based on Wilson's essay in the coming Plains Political Traditions, Vol 4, edited by Jon Lauck and Paula Nelson.
  • How did South Dakota's state Constitution come together? What is the state's basic law? How did South Dakota become the first state in the nation to enshrine the popular referendum and how often have the people used this power? In this episode of History 605, Dr. Jones discusses the state's constitution with the former South Dakota Supreme Court Chief Justice David Gilbertson. His expertise in the state and tribal law make for a great conversation. To read the hand written original constitution, see this link at the State Archives: https://sddigitalarchives.contentdm.oclc.org/digital/collection/government/id/751/rec/1
  • In this episode, we speak with Historian Sean Flynn from Dakota Wesleyan University about his biography on Ben Reifel. How does a boy born into poverty on the Rosebud Reservation become a man who advocates for Indian education and an Indian policy that is, "Without Reservation"? I hope you'll join us for this discussion on how one South Dakota leader sought to manage the challenges of two different cultures. Sean Flynn's book is available here: https://sdhspress.com/books/without-reservation