November 2 – New States! Two States! Two More Red States!

Posted on November 2, 2016

Have you ever wondered why there are TWO Dakotas? Why not just one state called “Dakota”?

Of course, the Dakotas are not the only split states – the U.S. also has a North and South Carolina and a West Virginia as well as Virginia.

North and South Carolina's evolution from the Carolana colony to two separate colonies and then states occurred back in the 1700s – and, from what I can tell, it was caused partly by messy beginnings of governance and poor leadership, and partly by the fact that the original land grant was too large.

West Virginia split from the eastern portion of Virginia in 1861, because the latter voted to secede from the United States in the lead-up to the Civil War.

North and South Dakota experienced at least two reasons for the split:

  1. From the creation of the Dakota Territory in 1861 until 1883, Yankton was the capital, even though it was way down in the southeastern corner of the territory, really far away from the northern reaches. Yankton had a great benefit in the “location, location, location” rule, since it was a steamboat landing along the Missouri River. However, the landing was crushed by the breaking of an ice dam, in 1881, and the entire riverfront and downtown area were flooded with water, ice, and rocks. So...not such a good “location, location, location,” at that point.
    Two years later, the northern region of the Dakota Territory declared a railroad center named Bismarck as the capital of the territory. The people living in the southern region resented the “capital grab,” and there were a LOT more people in the south. They made a move to become a state, separate from the northern territory, partly so that they could have their own capital.

    The U.S. government pretty much answered these attempts for separate-South -Dakotan statehood with, “Nope. Come in as one large state, Dakota, or wait until the North has enough people to come in as their own state.”

    The latter is what happened. And when North Dakota was finally populated enough to become a state, in 1889, there was a rivalry about which state would be admitted first. President Benjamin Harrison signed the papers to formally admit the two separate states on this date in 1889, and he shuffled the papers together and signed blindly, so that even he didn't know which state was first. (But, since “North” comes before “South” in an alphabetical sorting, North Dakota is traditionally called the 39th state, and South Dakota is the 40th.)

    By the way, South Dakota did not choose its old capital, Yankton, as the capital. Instead, they went with a city that was centrally located according to the state's boundaries: Pierre.

  2. Another, perhaps more important, reason for two separate states instead of one large state: two separate states means four senators, not two, and more representatives as well. And since Dakotans from the north and the south routinely voted Republican, the admission of two Dakotas gave the Republicans a majority in Congress.

It goes without saying that none of these reasons take into consideration the lives and wishes of the original inhabitants of the land. Here are the Dakotan peoples that lost their lands and, in too many cases, their lives:
  • the Mandan people
  • the Lakota and Dakota peoples, including:

  • the Santee people
  • the Dakota people
  • the Yanktonai people
  • the Sichangu people
  • the Oglala people
  • the Itazipcho people
  • the Hunkpapha people
  • the Sihasapa people
  • the Oohenunpa people

Another umbrella name for the native peoples are the Sioux.

I have to admit that I have only been to one of the Dakotas. I made a list of the things I most wanted to see and do in the Dakotas, and almost all of them were in the southwestern corner of the state – which is perfect, since we were driving from Southern California. So we went to the southwestern corner of South Dakota and that was it. We saw lots of fun things. Here are just a few of the stand-outs:

Badlands National Park (above and below) was really, really beautiful lands.

Custer State Park (above and the next two below)
We had bison walking RIGHT BY OUR CAR, just inches away!
I loved loved loved the rocky pinnacles or spires along the road,
and I loved loved loved the rocky mounds around Sylvan Lake.
The far-from-finished Crazy Horse Memorial (above)...

(Above and below) We enjoyed a presidential scavenger
hunt in Rapid City!

Of course, the iconic Mount Rushmore!
(above and below)

Mammoth Site in Hot Springs (above) -
a place with a LOT of active excavation
of mammoth skeletons - fascinating!

Also on this date:

Pushkar Camel Fair 11/2 to 11/14, 2016

Plan ahead:

Check out my Pinterest boards for:

And here are my Pinterest boards for:

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