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History 605

History 605 explores the history of South Dakota, the northern Great Plains, and the Midwest. South Dakota’s State Historian Ben Jones will visit with guests about their books, museum exhibits and artifacts, and historic sites in the state and region. Along the way, you’ll learn how to think, not what to think, about history and the people of the past.

The host is Dr. Ben Jones, State Historian and Director of the South Dakota State Historical Society. Ben grew up in Sioux Falls and De Smet, served in various locations around the world while in the USAF. He returned to South Dakota to become Dean of Arts and Sciences at Dakota State University, then served as South Dakota’s 15th Secretary of Education. Along the way, he earned his PhD in history and enjoys sharing history’s insights with all of you.

Latest Episodes
  • Who were the Lakota Code Talkers? What kind of language is Lakota? What can go wrong when two very conceptually different languages such as English and Lakota try to communicate in treaties?
  • How can we know what happened in the past? Historians use a wide variety of sources in order to answer that question. But how do we know what happened when there was no written language?
  • What prompts revolution and calamity? A sudden and sharp rise in grain prices, claims historian Scott Nelson, the UGA Athletics Association Professor of the Humanities at the University of Georgia. Nelson chatted with us about his book, Oceans of Grain: How American Wheat Remade the World.
  • Today we talk to Joseph Daniels about how history and heritage will be used to commemorate and celebrate the nation's Semiquincentennial, or the 250th year since the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Daniels is the CEO of the America 250 Foundation charged with supporting the nation's celebration.
  • In this episode of History 605, I spoke with Roger Grant, a historian of the American railroad. Roger has had a long career teaching at Clemson University and has written several books. I spoke with him about his book, "Railroads and the American People," and his forthcoming essay on South Dakota's railroads with the Center for Western Studies. As Roger reminds us, "An idea is what an idea does," and the railroads were a practical idea that met a need — but also a source of great fascination with a profound influence on America. In this episode, you'll hear how the railroads shaped so much of South Dakota.
  • In this episode we ask, "how can we represent and best commemorate the Rapid City Flood?" Troy Kilpatrick and Corey Christianson of Rapid City's Journey Museum and Learning Center talk with us about how they answered that question with their current exhibit.
  • 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