Proposals Sought for New Book on Big Sioux River Valley

Good Earth State Park

A scene from Good Earth State Park, courtesy South Dakota Department of Tourism.

The Center for Western Studies at Augustana University seeks proposals for chapters to be included in "Heartland River: Essays on the Big Sioux River Valley," an edited collection focused on exploring the culture, history, geography, and politics of the region surrounding the Big Sioux River valley.

This interior American river valley has yet to be studied and understood in the manner other river valleys have been explored by way of such books as Ryan Schnurr’s "In the Watershed: A Journey Down the Maumee River" (2017), David Faldet’s "Oneota Flow: The Upper Iowa River and Its People" (2009), or Kim Gruenwald’s treatment of the Ohio River, "River of Enterprise" (2002). Following these books and other studies, the organizers of this volume seek a “deep mapping” of the Big Sioux River valley and watershed.

Proposals should explain the author’s general approach to the topic and include the sources to be consulted as well as the author’s curriculum vitae.

Topics to be explored include, but are by no means limited to:

  • Historical understandings of the valley
  • Geographical and topographical approaches to delineating the valley
  • Literary or other cultural activities in the valley (such as Harvey Dunn’s training in Brookings or Terry Redlin’s work in Watertown)
  • Agricultural practices which help explain the economics of the valley
  • Environmental factors such as rainfall, glaciation, river development, and grasses which help to explain how the valley was formed
  • Environmental history of the valley (through, for example, such figures as Paul Errington)
  • Major figures from the valley (Karl Mundt or Gore Vidal’s father, for example)
  • Major cities of the valley (Sioux City, Sioux Falls, Brookings, Watertown, etc)
  • Glacial Lakes region
  • Understandings of Native Americans, American settlers, immigrants, political leaders, environmentalists, geographers, political scientists, and others which help explain the basic elements of the valley

The editor and publisher are open to various approaches to the topic.

All proposals should be sent to editor Jon K. Lauck ( by November 1, 2019.

If a proposal is accepted for inclusion in this volume, the author’s chapter will be due November 1, 2020. Final chapters should be approximately 5,000 words, including notes, and in Chicago style.

The edited collection is under publication consideration by the Center for Western Studies at Augustana University in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.