Donald F. Montileaux’s Lakota Creation Stories Selected for SD Summer Reading Program

2014 Inductee Donald F. Montileaux
2014 Inductee Donald F. Montileaux

The South Dakota Humanities Council has selected its first tribal author for this year’s reading program. 2014 Inductee Donald F. Montileaux’s collection of three Lakota creation stories written and voiced in both Lakota and English are being distributed to Second Graders across the state for the Summer reading book selection.

Tatanka is the first of three books in the collection, ‘Tatanka and Other Legends of the Lakota People’. It was written by eight Lakota people in South Dakota. Donald Montileaux illustrated the children’s book, then wrote and illustrated two accompanying books ‘Tasunka’ and ‘Muskrat and Skunk’. Montileaux is the author selected for the Young Readers One Book in South Dakota.

Listen to the full South Dakota Public Broadcasting interview here.

Learn more about Donald’s Legacy of Achievement here.

Happy 90th Birthday Frank Farrar

IMG_6923Yesterday was Frank Farrar’s 90th Birthday!

We were able to celebrate with Frank today during our Acts of Excellence Celebration | Aberdeen!

Frank Farrar is a former judge, state’s attorney general, and the 24th Governor of South Dakota. After his public career, Frank entered into various business opportunities including real estate, insurance, farming, banking, and investments. He is also an avid athlete, having participated in the Senior Olympics and numerous Ironman competitions throughout the U.S. and the world. Frank was inducted in 2006.




Learn more about Frank’s Legacy of Achievement at

More Sioux Falls garbage to gas to Poet

Image of Jeff Broin
2017 Inductee Jeff Broin

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. ( — Ethanol giant Poet and the City of Sioux Falls have signed a ten-year contract extension to buy methane gas generated by landfill garbage.

The gas comes off the garbage at the Sioux Falls Regional Landfill. Poet uses the gas in its ethanol-making process at the big plant in Chancellor.

Poet’s Jeff Broin says extending the deal is a win-win situation.

“We pay the city of Sioux Falls which lowers tipping and lowers garbage rates for everyone in Sioux Falls, but also it eliminates the greenhouse gases that would come off…” Broin tells Kelo Radio’s It’s Your Business Show with Bill Zortman.

Broin estimates Poet has paid the city over $17 million over the past ten years and this extension represents another $13 million or so.

The contract was signed by Broin and Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken on Monday as Congressman Dusty Johnson looked on.

There is an 11-mile-long pipe from the landfill to the Chancellor plant.

Read more of 2017 Inductee Jeff Broin’s Legacy of Achievement here.

David Emery, Great-Great-Grandson of 2014 Inductee James Emery, Reflects on Growing up in North Rapid


David Emery

David Emery, the chairman, and CEO of Black Hills Corporation, and great-great-grandson of 2014 inductee James Emery, was recently the featured guest of the Morning Fill Up speaker series, hosted by the Numad Group and sponsored by the Bush Foundation, at The Garage, a co-working space in downtown Rapid City.

The Rapid City Journal’s Seth Tupper captured the conversation in a recent newspaper article.

Below is an excerpt from the article. To read the full article, visit here.

“…Emery referenced lessons he learned from his grandparents and parents while fielding questions about the best advice he has received, what characteristics he sees in good leaders, and how he rose from a junior employee to the leader of a large company.

While attributing his outlook on life and his personal success partially to his grandparents who lived in North Rapid, Emery acknowledged the racially influenced problems that existed there during his childhood and continue to exist today. Their area has the city’s highest concentration of Native American residents, along with a higher poverty rate and lower school achievement.

Emery, himself a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, said there is greater awareness of the racial divide in Rapid City today and a broader willingness to discuss it, and he views those as encouraging signs.

“I think we’ve made a lot of progress in small steps,” he said, “but a lot of the same issues that you saw back in the ’60s and ’70s when I grew up, you still see a lot of those today.””

Read more of 2014 Inductee James Emery’s Legacy of Achievement here.


Lynn’s Dakotamart Turns 50


2004 Inductee Lynn Feist

2004 Inductee Lynn Feist

The legacy of 2004 Inductee Lynn Feist continues today with his network of grocery stores celebrating their 50th anniversary this year!

Read a great history about Lynn and the growth of his businesses dedicated to community with this Black Hills Pioneer article here.

Learn more about Lynn’s legacy of achievements on our website here.

Joy Nelson Earns National Recognition

2016 Inductee Joy Nelson was recently named a 2018 Good Neighbor Awardee by the National Association of REALTORS®.

The video showcases Joy’s love of the outdoors and community and why it led her to donate 126 acres and lend her vision to creating the completely accessible Joy Ranch, with ramps and special saddles to accommodate children with many types of disabilities.



Read more about Joy’s legacy of achievements here.

Native Art Donation to City of Rapid City Inductee Tom Shortbull

Read Tom’s Legacy here

RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) – Tribal members on the Pine Ridge Reservation will bring more historical art to downtown Rapid City, after the city council declared that traditional Lakota designs will now adorn the chamber walls.

Thomas Shortbull presented a pair of pieces by his late father during a ceremony in the council chambers Monday.

Both pieces were created during the 1950s. One focuses on a Lakota woman and child and the other on a buffalo.

Shortbull hopes his father’s craft will help diversify the city.

“Anything we can do to bring people together is a great thing, and I hope the recognition by the city of rapid city of my fathers artwork will be an indication to the Indian community that they appreciate us,” Shortbull said.

Mayor Steve Allender said the city’s relationship with the Native community was tough over the years, but this is a symbol that the city has made progress.

“I’m surprised and very pleased. I don’t know if I was in Doctor Shortbull’s position that I would do the same thing, I think I would want to keep the family art in the family,” Allender explained.

Former Rapid City Mayor Don Barnett and Dr. Richard Gowen of the South Dakota Hall of Fame also helped present the honor along with Shortbull and his family.

Jim Abbott’s last day at USD: ‘I’m grateful beyond belief’

Argus Leader

By Mick Garry, June 21, 2018

Image of James W. Abbott

2017 Inductee James W. Abbott

VERMILLION – Getting down to the last hours of his tenure, University of South Dakota president Jim Abbott sorted through one final pile of assorted certificates, papers and documents in his office, an office now so barren his chief of staff Laura McNaughton had to move a chair in from the other room when a visitor arrived.

This was it after 21 years. The man who came to be known as “G.O.A.T” by students – greatest of all time – was going to leave the headquarters from which he’d spearheaded a dramatic rebuilding of USD’s campus over two decades. For the first time in those 21 years this 1970 USD grad would be leaving that office with no plans to come back.

“I’m grateful beyond belief that I had this job for 21 years,” he said from behind his desk. “I don’t think from an emotional standpoint there is much better than being the president of your alma mater. But there’s a time for everything to end, and at 70 years old after 21 years, it’s clearly time for me to be done. I won’t say I won’t miss things. I’m going to miss the people and particularly the kids but it’s time for my next chapter, whatever that is. I hope it’s not a very complicated chapter.”

Abbott and the visitor laughed at that, understanding on his last day it was OK to admit he was looking forward to a break.

In those 21 years, there was always an old building that needed a gutting and renovation. There was almost always a hole in the ground somewhere on campus where a new building was going up. The dreams and drawings of that next project, be it a business school or a med school or a fitness center or a 6,000-seat basketball arena, were always waiting on deck.

“It didn’t take a genius to understand the campus had become somewhat rundown,” he said, going back to the days when he first took the job in 1997. In the midst of a successful business career that included regular dalliances in politics, he didn’t have a road map that would guide him over the next two decades, nor did he have a traditional academic background for a college president. What he did have was the knowledge was that whatever direction he went, he’d end up at a place on campus that needed some scrubbing up.

The school’s endowment has gone from less than $50 million to nearly $250 million in those 21 years. This is in addition to funding Division I sports. And then all those buildings. The campus only vaguely resembles the one people would see on a drive down Cherry Street in 1997.

“I thought I could raise money,” he said. “And I knew that’s what needed to happen. Anyone could look at kindergarten enrollment and see what it was going to be like in 12 years. It wasn’t a pretty picture. Recruitment was going to be important. I was shocked when I started out that the office of admissions was in the basement of Slagle Hall between the bathrooms and the pop machine. That didn’t seem to me like a particularly great strategy for recruiting new students.”

He and the visitor laugh again at that. It’s a day for this kind of thing. Earlier that morning he was clearing out the last of his belongings in the dorm room where he’d been staying since February. This was after the heart attack that sent him to the sidelines for about a week.

The president’s home was going to be remodeled for his successor, and he had a choice of an apartment or a spot over at Coyote Village for his last months at USD. He chose the dorm and brought his dog “McGovern” with him. Nobody called him out on having a pet in the dorm, and nobody woke him up in the middle of the night.

Thursday morning, he was out of the dorm. He’d gathered McGovern’s bowls and bed, gave the place one more looking over, then returned the key to Michele Crawford, who was running the front desk in the Coyote Village lobby.

Crawford and Abbott exchanged a warm good-bye with Crawford telling him, much like she might a departing senior, that it was a pleasure having him stay there. A few students watched with curiosity as their president checked out of the same place they were living.

The ease of the exchanges between the president and the students is brought up again during those last minutes in the office. It was not an accident or a matter of convenience that Abbott and McGovern always went for a walk on campus rather than down some street where nobody was going to bother them.

“Students will always approach a dog,” he said. “You have to have something to talk to them about. I liked hearing their opinions. I didn’t always think they thought things through, but that’s the purpose of college. The goal of a liberal arts education is to teach you how to think. I always enjoyed talking with the students. They were always fun, and I always had their support, and I appreciated that.”

He’s proud of the school’s transition to Division I athletics and marvels still that he’d be as smitten by the sports programs as he was. He did not grow up much of an athlete or even follow sports. He still doesn’t, he said, beyond whatever is going on with the Coyotes.

The decision to move to Division I or stay at Division II became a more pressing issue in the years after rival South Dakota State made the jump in 2004. Understanding the potential benefits and challenges — as well as the long-term ramifications of doing nothing at all — became a part of the job to an extent it never had before.

As those at USD discovered, the school didn’t need a president who knows the difference between a zone and a man-to-man defense to be the man for the job.

“It was a significant challenge,” he said. “Our students, our faculty and our alums rose to the occasion. I think everybody agrees that was a good thing. We had a little bit of a saying around here when a question came up that needed to be answered. We’d always ask ‘Is it student-centered? And, is it what a really good Division I school would do?’”

His wife, Collette, died in 2016 at age 59. The seats at the Sanford Coyote Sports Center are a vivid red because she suggested it back when the facility was under construction. A framed picture of his late wife’s father sitting on a horse with other members of the Pierre polo team from the 1940s is one of the last remaining personal items in the office.

A group of men who had been moving Abbott’s things stopped by in those last few minutes and asked if there was anything else they could do. Specifically they wondered about what to do about a navy blue coat they found.

“I never really liked that jacket,” Abbott tells them. “But I guess I’ll put it in the car. I left it in the closet for 40 years.”

Chances are it doesn’t make it to Nantucket, where Abbott will spend much of the summer, or the Jersey Shore or any of the other places he plans to travel over the next eight to 10 months. He will move to Sioux Falls at some point, and he’s going to give Gestring, the former vice president of finance and chief financial officer at USD who is replacing him, plenty of room in carving out her own path.

Just before the moving men left, one of them paused and, recognizing the moment, expressed his gratitude.

“Well, thank you for everything,” he told Abbott. “We appreciate all of it.”

There have been more formal thank yous thrown his way over the last six months and there will be more yet, but this was a good one to go out on. Earnest, heart-felt and unprovoked.

Read more about Jame’s legacy of achievements here.

After a century, unmarked graves of infants dedicated at Woodlawn Cemetery

Argus Leader

By Garrett Ammesmaki, June 22, 2018

2011 Inductee Gary Conradi

2011 Inductee Gary Conradi

A bagpipe bleated out “The Bells of Dublane” as almost 50 people walked through Woodlawn Cemetery.

They were there to remember the departed, all of whom were infants and most that died over a century ago.

The Tuesday afternoon service of remembrance was the culmination of a project started two years ago to mark the graves of 30 orphaned babies who passed between 1906 and 1930, but were unable to afford a marker.

“These babies, infants, were alive and they existed, but there’s no visible record of them being here. Our feeling was, we should correct that,” said Gary Conradi, a member of the board of directors for Woodlawn Cemetery.

Conradi spearheaded a fundraiser for the $10,000 needed for the markers. It was a success, receiving $16,000 in donations. Some primary contributors were the Daughters of the American Revolution and the Sheldon F. Reese Foundation. There are 30 or more spots yet to be marked, but Conradi said the remaining funds will be used toward rectifying that.

The event comes during the 125th anniversary of the South Dakota Children’s Home Society, where most of the babies lived during their short lives.

“It’s just so special to be a part of this, to learn about this, and really reconnect with a part of our history that we didn’t even know about,” said Rick Weber, Children’s Home Society Development Director.

The Children Home’s Society was South Dakota’s primary orphanage for decades, meaning many of the babies came from cities across the state — spanning from Chamberlain to Watertown.

“Life is precious,” Conradi said, “and I think it needs to be recognized reverently and respectfully.”

The Roosevelt High School chorus performed for the event, which included a mediation and dedication from Reverend Heidi Binstock of Westside Lutheran Church.

For Conradi, the project hits close to home. He had two brothers who died during infancy, both were buried not far from the new markers.

“My parents felt the need for a marker, and as I was growing up we would come here and plant flowers on memorial day,” he said. “My parents are now deceased, so I’ve continued that.”

Read more about Gary’s legacy of achievements here.

The only family-owned telephone company in SD 2018 Inductee Rod Bowar

Rod Bowar has acquired, built and expanded seven businesses and given back to the area in immeasurable ways. His flagship business, Kennebec Telephone Co. – the last South Dakota resident family-owned telephone company – sits as prominently and meaningfully on a Kennebec corner as does our chamber of commerce at Eighth and Phillips.