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South Dakota Cultural Symbols

South Dakota’s roster of 11 official cultural symbols includes a few novel designations mixed in with the usual stinkers.

Cultural Symbols  
Bread fry bread 2005
Dessert Kuchen (Recipes) 2000
Nosh Chislic 2018
Drink milk, lac vacuum Redundant Symbol 1986
Sport rodeo 2003
Fishing Museum The Museum of Wildlife, Science and Industry located in the city of Webster 2004
Mining Museum Black Hills Mining Museum in Lead 2014
Hall of Fame The South Dakota Hall of Fame — Chamberlain 1996
Musical Instrument fiddle 1989
Common Language English Redundant Symbol 1995
Flag Pledge 1987
South Dakota Cultural SymbolsLeft to right: Milk, rodeo, frybread, and a fiddle with Mount Rushmore in the background.

South Dakota’s lamest cultural symbols include milk and English, the official beverage and language.

During the World War I era, laws were passed making it illegal to speak German in public. Ironically, most settlers in the Dakotas were German. Many of them migrated to Russia before coming to the United States.

Another symbol that deserves a pass is South Dakota’s flag pledge. Intelligent people are more likely to question flags than salute them. And who in their right mind would want to salute South Dakota’s bizarre flag, anyway?

South Dakota shares its official sport, rodeo, with neighboring Wyoming as well as Texas. The fiddle is South Dakota’s official musical instrument.

Food ˆ

Sweet cornI’ll take a bowl of fresh-picked sweet corn over all of South Dakota’s official foods any day.

However, the primary theme among South Dakota’s cultural symbols is food.

German immigrants brought kuchen, the official dessert, to South Dakota in the late 19th century. Today, Eureka, South Dakota calls itself the kuchen capital of the world.

South Dakota’s official bread, frybread, is arguably the symbol most closely associated with Native Americans.

In 1864, the U.S. government forced Navajo Indians in Arizona to relocate to an internment camp 300 miles away in New Mexico. The government gave them canned goods, sugar, white flour and lard to prevent starvation. Native Americans created fry bread with these staples.

Not surprisingly, frybread became popular with many plains tribes after the great herds of bison and other game were destroyed. Today, frybread is a reminder of the American Holocaust, but it is also a symbol of native pride and unity. Given that many died during “The Long Walk,” it might also be regarded as a symbol of survival.

Smithsonian Magazine has an interesting article titled “Frybread.”

South Dakota is the only state with an official nosh, chislic.

Chislic is widely known (in South Dakota, at least) as cubes of meat fried in oil. Traditionally, chislic is salted, cubed mutton served on wooden skewers, deep-fat fried or grilled. It is commonly served with a side of saltine crackers and a cold beverage.

Some of the better known chislic restaurants buy lamb meat from a well-known meat locker in the town of Kaylor (population 47). However, beef is a also a popular choice. Venison chislic also has its fans, and Native Americans would probably rejoice at the opening of a restaurant serving bison chislic.

Chislic is believed to have originated in the Middle East. Many credit a German-Russian immigrant named John Hoellwarth (1849-1919) for bringing it to Freeman, South Dakota towards the end of the 19th century.

Hoellwarth allegedly launched a new community tradition: people would celebrate and socialize by butchering a lamb and offering friends and neighbors chislic.

Believe it or not, I don’t recall eating chislic when I was growing up. For me, the most memorable food was fresh-picked sweet corn. It made the corn sold in grocery stores on the West Coast look like crap. Fried pheasant and home-made ice cream were other special treats.

Weird Symbols ˆ

South Dakota has three cultural symbols that are downright weird. Two of them have never been officially adopted.

Noseeum Museum ˆ

South Dakota is the only state with an official fishing museum. Amazingly, the museum didn’t even exist when it was adopted. Apparently, a con man said, “If you adopt a state fishing museum, I’ll build it.” And so it was adopted, and it was later built.

The museum is located in one of several buildings that make up the Museum of Wildlife, Science and Industry in Webster.

Most major South Dakota attractions are located along the Interstate. They include Mitchell’s Corn Palace and Wall Drug, located near the scenic Badlands. However, Webster is a small town (population less than 2,000) located far from the Interstate. The official fishing museum probably gets less visitors than any gas station along the Interstate.

Jackalope ˆ

South Dakota: JackalopeLeft: A tourist rides a jackalope at South Dakota’s Wall Drug. Right: A jackalope graces a whimsical Dakota state seal that appeared in the book (IR)Rational Parks. (Jackalope: By Mbailey – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0link; Note: I modified this image, changing the background.)

Forget invisible fishing museums. The jackalope is one of South Dakota’s most visible icons.

The world famous jackalope is a creature that looks like a cross between a jackrabbit and a deer. Some jackalopes even have tail feathers (and sometimes even wings) that look awfully similar to the feathers of South Dakota’s state bird, the ring-necked pheasant.

The jackalope legend may have been born in neighboring Wyoming. However, the most famous jackalopes in the world are probably the ones on display at Wall Drug, another famous unofficial symbol of South Dakota.

Many tourists have left South Dakota believing the jackalope is real. However, others claim it’s merely a prank created by taxidermists. What do you think?

Heroic Mountains ˆ

Mt. Rushmore ˆ

South Dakota Slogan
State Quarter

In South Dakota, Mt. Rushmore is bigger than God. It is virtually the only South Dakota icon that is familiar worldwide, with the exception of the jackalopes that cower at its feet.

Though never officially adopted outright, Mt. Rushmore is nevertheless quite official. It inspired South Dakota’s official nickname and slogan. It’s advertised on the state seal and flag, license plates, billboards, and mountains of tourist literature. In 2014, USA Today reported that Mt. Rushmore was visited by roughly three million people annually.

Most people view Mt. Rushmore as a patriotic site. There they can see bigger-than-life likenesses of four of America’s greatest heroes—George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt.

The sad truth is that Mt. Rushmore is a monument to arrogance and ignorance.

For starters, Mt. Rushmore is located in the Black Hills, which was promised to the Lakota (Sioux) Indians by treaty. Adding to the insult is the fact that all four people portrayed on Mt. Rushmore were racists.

South Dakota Nickname

George Washington and Thomas Jefferson actually owned slaves. None of the men of Mt. Rushmore were friends of Native Americans. Shortly after the Civil War, Lincoln presided over the biggest mass execution in American history. Thirty-eight Lakota citizens were lynched.

Lincoln’s record book lynching is one of many things children aren’t taught in school. It’s a bitter truth, but it’s truth nonetheless. The other side of the story may be a little embarrassing, but lies and deception are far uglier.

Mt. Crazy Horse? ˆ

Today, an even bigger monument is being carved out of rock in the Black Hills. This monument honors the legendary Crazy Horse, one of the most famous Native American freedom fighters.

Some Indians are happy to see a monument to one of their heroes slowly take shape. However, others ask if Crazy Horse would have approved of the destruction of a mountain in his name. Moreover, Crazy Horse was said to be very humble and was allegedly never photographed. Would he want millions of brainwashed tourists flocking to a tacky monument dedicated to him?

The man who sculpted Mt. Rushmore, Gutzon Borglum, was a member of the Ku Klux Klan. He was also anti-Jew, or at least anti-Jewarchy. (Read “Op-Ed: Could the racist past of Mt. Rushmore’s creator bring down the monument?”)

Ironically, the sculptor behind the Crazy Horse sculptor, Korczak Ziolkowski, was Jewish. The irony is compounded by the fact that Jews are the greatest racists. They are especially known for the contempt they heap on Native Americans. The Jewish phony philosopher Ayn Rand virtually spit in Native Americans’ faces. Former South Dakota governor Bill Janklow was famously racist. He even raped at least one Indian girl.

Janklow’s political career was mercifully terminated after he was convicted of manslaughter. After he died, South Dakotans learned that the bastard was a crypto-Jew.

Jews have been gleefully carrying out a genocidal campaign against Palestinians for three quarters of a century while denying that Native Americans were ever victims of genocide. Ironically, Jews are the original advocates of Holocaust denial.

Many Indians charge that Ziolkowski’s family is making a fortune from their Crazy Horse project while ripping off Indians. Big surprise, huh? They claim the Crazy Horse memorial is just another tacky tourist trap. Of course, the Jewish media have little to say about this scandal and are loathe to even mention the fact that Ziolowski was a Jew.

I should point out that I’m from South Dakota myself. When I was a child, I learned to love the open prairie. I yearned to learn its secrets. I mourned the loss of the great buffalo herds, something I wanted to see far more than Mt. Rushmore.

Of course, everything you’ve read is my opinion. Most South Dakotans will probably disagree. On the other hand, most Dakotans who are also Native American would agree with me.

Unfortunately, we can’t undo Mt. Rushmore. The best we could do is simply blow it up. Believe it or not, there are people who would cheer its destruction. The ultimate irony: Some Native Americans might cheer if the Crazy Horse memorial was blown up, too.

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