Symbols of Local Culture
Left to right: Milk, rodeo, frybread, kuchen, the fiddle and South Dakota’s invisible fishing museum combined are dwarfed by Mount Rushmore, the source of the state’s official nickname and motto.

South Dakota has around thirty official state symbols. They include some of America’s strangest symbols. (Continued below)

Nicknames & Slogans
Nicknames The Mount Rushmore State, Sunshine State, Coyote State, Blizzard State, Artesian State 1980
Slogan Great Faces, Great Places, 1990
Symbols of State
Motto Under God the People Rule 1885
Song Hail, South Dakota 1943
Flower American pasqueflower (Pulsatilla patens) 1903
Tree Black Hills spruce (Picea glauca) 1947
Grass western wheatgrass (Pascopyrum smithii) 1970
Bird ring-necked pheasant (Phasianus colchichus) 1943
Animal coyote (Canis latrans) 1949
Fish walleye (Sander vitreus) 1982
Insect honeybee (Apis mellifera) Redundant Symbol 1978
Mineral Stone rose quartz 1966
Gemstone Fairburn agate 1966
Jewelry Black Hills gold 1988
Fossil † Triceratops (Triceratops) 1988
Soil Houdek 1990
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

The nickname Coyote State was inspired by a horse, and the state bird was introduced from China. While various states have official minerals and/or stones, South Dakota has an official “mineral stone.” The state fishing museum didn’t even exist when it was adopted. Worst of all is Mt. Rushmore, a monument to four of America’s greatest racists blasted out of rock on Indian land.

South Dakota: Jackalope
Left: 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 (left): By Mbailey – Own work, CC BY-SA
Note: I modified this image, changing the background.)
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The introduction above is excerpted from My State Symbols Book. The symbols listed in the table above are linked to pages on my master symbols site, Geobop’s Symbols.

You can learn still more about the symbols of the 50 states in the books Flag Quest, Grading the States, and—if you’re really hard core—Geobop’s State Symbols.

After you spend some time exploring South Dakota’s symbols, you can come back here and tell us what you think about the symbols of the Coyote State.

I was born and raised in West Dakota, so I have some strong opinions. I loved the prairie, and I deeply miss a way of life that has largely vanished.

That’s precisely why I hate South Dakota’s grotesquely ugly flag, which says nothing about South Dakota. Below is my vision of a new South Dakota flag.

South Dakota Flag