49th Annual Dakota Conference

Father Stanislaus Maudlin (1916-2006) inside the Benedictine monastery Blue Cloud Abbey (now Abbey of the Hills Inn and Retreat Center) in Marvin, SD.

Held every April, the Dakota Conference on History, Literature, Art and Archeology examines issues of contemporary significance to the Northern Plains in their historical and cultural contexts. Recent topics of interest have included western highways, regional identity, World Wars I and II, Wounded Knee 1973, and Spanish exploration of and Hispanic/Latino immigration to the region. 

49th Annual Dakota Conference

religion and spirituality in the northern plains: observing the 500th anniversary of the reformation

The conference will be held April 21-22, 2017, in the CWS Fantle Building on the Augustana campus.

Conference Theme: The 49th annual Dakota Conference on Northern Plains History, Literature, Art, and Archaeology will examine the variety of religious expression in the Northern Plains region, both historical and contemporary.

Great Plains historian Douglas Hurt observes that religious preferences in the plains were formed as much by ethnicity as by theology. In The Big Empty, Hurt writes, "Theologically, the Great Plains men and women lived in an Old Testament world where reality was often harsh and unforgiving, but they prayed with hope and expectation to a New Testament God."

Since early contact, Plains Indians have struggled to maintain aspects of their spiritual traditions. Today the pipe ceremony, vision quest, sweat lodge, and peyotism continue to be practiced by Native Americans in the Northern Plains.

Euroamerican settlement of the Northern Plains brought such mainline religions as Protestantism, Catholicism, and Judaism. Varying degrees of spiritual emphasis, such as fundamentalism, evangelicalism, utopianism, pietism, and dispensationalism, are present in the plains. The Mormon Pioneer Trail passed directly through Nebraska, and Mormonism is practiced throughout the plains. Hutterites maintain several colonies. The diversity of religious practices in the plains continues apace, with adherents of such eastern religions as Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism.

Submission Requirements: Online submission forms are available. Presenters can also send a one-page paper or panel proposal with title, brief summary, and biographical sketch, along with presenter name, address, phone number, and email address via email, or mail to:

Dakota Conference
Center for Western Studies
Augustana University
2001 S. Summit Avenue
Sioux Falls, SD 57197

Proposals (not completed papers) are due on or before Friday, February 10, 2017. Please indicate whether you would be willing to serve as a session chair.

Conference Schedule: The conference schedule will be available in March 2017.

Registration Fee:  TBD

Registration: Registration is not open at this time.

Autograph Party: The Northern Plains Autograph Party will be held on Saturday, April 22, in conjunction with the conference. Authors of recent books about the Northern Plains may apply for invitation to the autograph party by contacting Executive Director Harry Thompson by February 10, 2017.

Cash Awards: Awards in academic, non-academic, student, and women’s history categories are available.

National Endowment for the Humanities Logo

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