Dakota Conference

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Date: 4/25/2014 to 4/26/2014
The Center for Western Studies

Eighty presenters from 15 states will gather to present papers and participate in panel discussions for the 46th annual Dakota Conference on Northern Plains History, Literature, Art and Archaeology, set for April 25-6 at the Center for Western Studies. With the international centennial of World War I approaching in August 2014, the Center for Western Studies will observe this momentous event by dedicating the 2014 Dakota Conference to the theme of The Great War and the Northern Plains.

Although the United States did not officially enter the war until 1917, Americans across the country felt the impact of the war long before engagement, none more so than those of German descent, especially the Mennonites and Hutterites living in the Plains, who were often viewed as sympathizers with the Kaiser’s Germany.  As noted in A New South Dakota History (2nd ed.), referring to the Hutterites, or communal Mennonites, “Their religious doctrine of nonresistance and nonviolence forbade Hutterites to serve in the military or take part in any activity that contributed to the war effort.  In the hysteria of wartime, state and federal authorities did not tolerate these religious convictions, and several young Hutterite men were sentenced to long prison terms for refusing to support the war effort” (p. 135).

Schedule: View the Schedule for the 46th annual Dakota Conference.

For other farmers, the Great War brought affluence as the price of crops and agricultural land soared.  The federal government urged intensive planting using such slogans as “Plow to the fence for national defense,” “If you can’t fight, farm,” and “Wheat will win the war.”  The advent of the tractor at this time, replacing draft animals, contributed to an economic boom during and after the war.  Plowing up the plains and over-mortgaging by many farmers, combined with extended drought years and the Great Depression, resulted in the Dust Bowl of the 1930s.  World War I and its immediate aftermath changed the people of the Plains and their values in many ways.

Full event registration is $90 and includes the Registration ($45 for Friday-Saturday) and Meal Package ($45 for Friday lunch and dinner and Saturday lunch). After Friday, April 18, the Registration and Meal Package will be $50 each. Registration is free for full-time undergraduate students of any college or university and faculty and staff of Augustana College. For lodging information, visit www.augie.edu/lodging.

The Dakota Conference is supported in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.