dakota digest


SUGGESTED LEAD:  The group, “School Administrators of South Dakota,” reports about 25 percent of the state's school superintdents are entering their first year of service this year.

Those positions are often filled with principals, who suddenly find themselves with a much longer job description, and two or more full-time jobs.  That’s a concern to outgoing superintendents leaving that situation—and to those stepping in to the positions. 

The Chamberlain School Board plans to vote tonight on whether to include a Lakota Honor song at the school’s graduation ceremony. It’s the second year in a row the request has been made. It was turned down last year in a decision at least one member of the community is calling racist. But while many in Chamberlain would like the song to be added, they say racism is not at the heart of the decision.



This is the way we wash our clothes—with a washer, a dryer, tap water, bottled detergent, dryer sheets…  But residents of West Hills Retirement Village tell a different story, historically speaking. They came together for a forum at the Journey Museum in Rapid City, to sit in a room filled with historical laundry implements and storyboards hanging by clothespins on a line strung around the room.
As the exhibit points out, laundry has sociopolitical aspects, but to these sons and daughters of pioneers, wash day was just a lot of work.

Victoria Wicks

Gun control and background checks have garnered national attention lately, but a group of shooters in Rapid City want to stay distanced from all that. They just like to shoot their guns. It’s a sport, and a passion, and these award-winning shooters tell you it takes years of practice to master the mental and physical discipline. SDPB’s Victoria Wicks goes to a shooting range to find out what draws these folks to shoot competitively week after week and year after year.

Carol Sheehan Fields and Peggy Byrne Dixon have been friends and fellow pianists since growing up together in Mobridge back in the 60’s. Since then piano has continued to be a big part of their lives. The ladies have played piano duos together many times over the years, but this occasion is different. Fields and Dixon are both seventy years old now, and this weekend this dazzling duo is using their musical talents to help the Mobridge Library.

Edgar Matuska

South Dakota Pianist Eugene Gienger is closing the Black Hills Symphony Orchestra’s current season with one of the most strenuous piano compositions ever written. More than 50 minutes long, Brahms’ Second Piano Concerto is a powerhouse of emotion, requiring of the pianist years of practice and great physical strength. For today’s Dakota Digest, SDPB’s Victoria Wicks travels to Gienger’s Custer home to hear him play excerpts and to talk with him about his music.

Victoria Wicks

Three Native mothers, joined by the Rosebud and Oglala Sioux Tribes, filed suit in South Dakota federal court in Rapid City Thursday for violations of the Indian Child Welfare Act. The plaintiffs claim that Pennington County routinely violates parents'  constitutional due process rights in abuse and neglect cases by not allowing evidence to be presented quickly after children are removed from their homes.

The western South Dakota town of Belle Fourche is the center of the action in the Trails to Tales interactive art adventure. Trails to Tales is a multi-media presentation featuring original and reworked illustrations and photographs by Black Hills State University Professor and artist Dr. Mary Caton-Rosser.

Common Core Standards Inspire Debate

Mar 7, 2013

Educational standards used in South Dakota since 2010 are causing alarm for a state representative and other opponents. Jim Bolin has attacked the Common Core State Standards Initiative in the legislature for a couple of years and says he plans to do so again next year. But educators say the standards prepare South Dakota students for college and for careers in a global economy.

By Victoria Wicks
As South Dakota’s lawyers gravitate toward larger cities, rural towns and counties are left with few, or no, legal services. Experts in the field say having lawyers in town helps the area to stay alive, keeping residents from having to travel to find legal assistance.
A bill currently coursing through the state legislature seeks to replace existing rural attorneys as they retire by encouraging law students to practice in small towns.

Eugene Gienger Performs Original Wieland Composition

Feb 6, 2013
Edgar Matuska

By Victoria Wicks

Guns In Schools: House Debates Before Passing Bill

Jan 30, 2013

By Victoria Wicks
A law allowing school personnel to carry firearms has moved one step forward. Tuesday the South Dakota House of Representatives passed House Bill 1087, which proposes giving school boards the option of working with local law enforcement officers to put guns in the possession of teachers, administrators, and volunteers.
“If a gunman walks through the door of my kids’ school…”
On the floor of the South Dakota House, Representative Jon Hansen expresses a fear parents have these days, and he echoes a controversial solution.

Legislation Addresses Rare Occurrences

Jan 23, 2013

The Attorney General’s package of legislation this year includes two proposals to address rare occurrences: when juveniles are tried and convicted as adults for murder, and when judges set aside a jury’s guilty verdict. These bills have some opposition from defense attorneys who say one bill goes too far and the other, not far enough. Proponents and opponents testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee of the South Dakota legislature.

South Dakota’s courts will see an initial surge in cases if the legislature approves a packet of bills to revamp handling of nonviolent felons. In his State of the Judiciary address before the state legislature on Wednesday, Chief Justice David Gilbertson urged support of the proposed laws, saying ultimately the plan will save the state money while improving lives. After the address, SDPB’s Victoria Wicks spoke with the Chief Justice for today’s Dakota Digest.

Felons' Societal Issues Challenge Reform

Jan 3, 2013
Victoria Wicks

The State of South Dakota is launching a Criminal Justice Initiative to lower the prison population and the costs associated with it. This effort is inspired by studies that indicate the state will need another 224 million dollars in the next ten years if the system continues to grow at its current rate.
In this third segment of a four-part series of Dakota Digests, SDPB’s Victoria Wicks talks to experts about the challenges to finding community based services for possibly addicted, possibly mentally challenged nonviolent offenders who just can’t seem to stop committing crimes.

In the days following the 2012 election, a majority of states filed petitions with the White House asking to secede from the Union. One of those states was South Dakota. Although the petitions don’t do much more than earn a response from the White House, the symbolic acts have opened up a national dialogue.

Kathe Schaaf Speaks To Gather The Women

Nov 20, 2012
Photo by Jesi Silveria

About sixty women from the Black Hills area came together recently for Gather the Women, a worldwide movement to give women greater power through collaboration. One of the movement’s founders was present by Skype. She tells the women that the world is undergoing a major shift and that women are part of that change.

By Victoria Wicks

Voters in a number of states have to produce some form of identification when they go to the polls, a requirement opposed by those who say the law disenfranchises specific groups. South Dakota requires a government-issued photo ID but allows people without the document to vote after signing an affidavit. For today’s Dakota Digest, SDPB’s Victoria Wicks explores these issues and other state laws that affect voters.

For more information on voting or registering to vote in South Dakota, click on the following sites:

Patients in Sioux Falls in need of a heart valve replacement may no longer face mandatory open heart surgery.    Sanford Health in North and South Dakota has been approved as one of a hundred other sites around the country in performing a new non-invasive heart valve replacement procedure.  On today’s Dakota Digest SDPB’s Cara Hetland has the story of how the surgery is different but necessary for the sickest of patients.

Marjorie Walberg was told in February she would need her aortic valve replaced.  For her it was bound to happen sometime.

Victoria Wicks

By Victoria Wicks
Bruce Raisch, who calls himself the Ghost Town Hunter, says he comes to South Dakota once or twice a year because the state is rich with abandoned towns and landmarks. On his constant travels, he gathers material for his books, which include Ghost Towns and Other Historical Sites of the Black Hills. During a recent trip, he stopped to visit with SDPB’s Victoria Wicks about his exploits and what he’s learned over the years.


submitted photo

To observe Constitution and Citizenship Week, South Dakota School of Mines and Technology invited Rapid City lawyer Patrick Duffy to speak to students. Duffy says Americans are woefully uninformed about their own rights, and that ignorance threatens democracy. For today’s Dakota Digest, SDPB’s Victoria Wicks brings us part of that speech and talks with Duffy in his office.


Kyle Mork

Summer Camp is a fond memory for many of us in South Dakota.  Nature trails, lakes and bonfires still take us back in time.  But for many with disabilities it’s an experience they cannot relate to--until now. 

Joy Nelson has two passions – 1880’s history and horses
 “I was horse crazy since the time I could talk. …  My parents have the old movies they dressed me up like the little girl I’m supposed to be but I’m dressed up in my cowboy hat and boots and belt on riding my rocking horse with my dress on – it was always there,” says Nelson.