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Center for Western Studies hosts 56th annual Dakota Conference

The Center for Western Studies at Augustana University is hosting the 56th annual Dakota Conference this Thursday and Friday.

Organizers say the conference aims to explore topics specific to the state in its historical and cultural context. This year’s focus is “political history.”

Jon Schaff is a professor of Government and Director of the Center for Public History and Civic Engagement at Northern State University. He is one of seven panelists at this year’s conference.

“What we’re doing here is of value. And I’m not gonna say it’s as important as the large themes of U.S. history but it’s still important, it’s our story and the best story to learn is the story of your neighbor," said Schaff. "At least the first story I should say, is the story of who am I, who are my neighbors, who are my people. I hope it doesn’t end there, but you’d hope that it would at least start there.”

The conference schedule includes sessions on great plains history, politics in the plains, and multiple break-out sessions on various political historical topics.

Jon Lauck is the moderator for this year’s conference.

“If you have any interests in South Dakota politics, history, political culture, sociology, whatever, this is the conference to be at,” said Lauck.

The conference takes place in the CWS Fantle Building at Augustana University in Sioux Falls.

Evan Walton is an SDPB reporter based in Sioux Falls. Evan holds a Master’s in English Literature from Southern New Hampshire University and was honorably discharged from the United States Army in 2015, where he served for five years as an infantryman.