New book on the Big Sioux River highlights the river's importance - jobs fights tigma
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New book on the Big Sioux River highlights the river’s importance

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New book on the Big Sioux River highlights the river’s importance

Alex Solem, upland game biologist with South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks, and intern Jessica Kading kayak while looking for evidence of river otters on Tuesday, September 28, 2021, on the Big Sioux River just south of Dell Rapids.

The Big Sioux River, the state’s most populated river and the natural boundary that separates southeastern South Dakota from northwestern Iowa, has finally gotten what it so richly deserves: Its own book.

The Center for Western Studies at Augustana University has just released “Heartland River: A Cultural and Environmental History of the Big Sioux River Valley.” The book had its coming out party during the 54th Annual Dakota Conference at Augustana April 28-29.

As historian and editor Jon K. Lauck writes in his introduction, the 420-mile river is longer than other rivers that have been aggrandized. It was snubbed by “The Rivers of America Series” that featured 122 other rivers.

“Robert Burns’ famous 1783 poem ‘The Banks O’Doon’ is about the river Doon in Scotland, which stretches a mere 60 miles. Shakespeare’s River Avon is 95 miles. Italy’s mighty Tiber is just 252 miles. Even in our present age of active ecological imaginations and commonplace environmental writing, the Big Sioux remains elusive. Thus it is past time for this lost river’s moment in the sun, “writes Lauck, who is a senior adviser to Late. John Thune.

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