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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
  • 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.”
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    History 605: S1, Ep 6 "All Guns Fired at One Time - Wounded Knee"
    History 605 host Dr. Ben Jones talks with author Jerome Greene about his book, All Guns Fired at One Time.
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    History 605: S1, Ep7 "The Education of Clarence Three Stars"
    How did Clarence Three Stars, a son of the Lakota warrior Yellow Knife, navigate the profound cultural transition from the 1860s to the 1920s?
  • 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.