52nd Annual Dakota Conference

Passengers and Ford sedan, ca. 1920s. Courtesy Library of Congress.

Stepping out on the town in a new Ford sedan. Courtesy Library of Congress.

Held every April, the Dakota Conference examines issues of contemporary significance to the Northern Plains region in their historical and cultural contexts. Religion and spirituality, geography and identity, the impact of global conflict, Hispanic/Latino influence, and the 1973 Wounded Knee Occupation have been examined in recent years.

52nd Annual Dakota Conference

the roaring twenties... again? (1920-2020)

The conference will be held April 24-25, 2020, in the CWS Fantle Building on the Augustana University campus.

Conference Theme: This year's Dakota Conference commemorates the centennial of the start of the 1920s, drawing connections between that decade and the one starting in 2020.

Although beginning with an economic downturn, the Twenties ushered in a period of technological innovation (autos, electric lights, cinema, phonographs, telephones), Women's Suffrage, popularization of sports, Prohibition, political corruption, social scandal, organized crime, nativism, reemergence of the KKK, urban/rural divide, science vs. fundamentalism, exploitation of the West by mining companies, and stock market highs and lows—ending in the Crash of 1929, followed by the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression.

The 2020s are shaping up to be a time of tweets, cyber-warfare, artificial intelligence, gun terrorism, middle-class financial squeeze, lawlessness, incivility, racism, pollution—and hope?

The year 2020 is also the 400th anniversary of the landing of the Mayflower at Plymouth, Massachusetts, marking the start of the Great Migration. Concerns about immigration during the 1920s mirror those of today. The passage of the Johnson-Reed Act and other laws in the 1920s reduced immigration by 90%. Will America finally have a comprehensive immigration policy in the 2020s?

Paper and session proposals on these and other topics related to the Dakotas, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming, and Montana are welcome.

Submission Requirements: Presenters are encouraged to submit their proposals using our online submission form.

Alternatively, presenters may send a one-page paper, session, or panel proposal with title, brief summary, and biographical sketch, along with presenter name, address, phone number, and email address to dakotaconference@augie.edu, or mail to:

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

Proposals (not completed papers) are due on or before Friday, February 14, 2020. Please indicate whether you would be willing to serve as a session chair.

Registration: Speakers must register and pay for two-day conference attendance to participate as presenters. Registration will open in spring of 2020.

  • Through April 17, registration is $60 (CWS members receive a 10% discount). 
  • After April 17, registration is $70 (CWS members receive a 10% discount).
  • Registration is free for full-time undergraduate students of any college or university and for Augustana University faculty and staff, courtesy Mellon Fund Committee.

Autograph Party: The Northern Plains Autograph Party will be held on Saturday, April 25, in conjunction with the conference. Authors of new books about the Northern Plains may apply to be invited to participate by contacting CWS Executive Director Dr. Harry Thompson at harry.thompson@augie.edu by February 14. Limit of one title per invited author.

Awards: Presenters may submit their papers for cash award consideration in academic, non-academic, student, and women’s history categories.

The Dakota Conference on the Northern Plains is a humanities-based public affairs program of the Center for Western Studies that explores topics specific to the region in their historical and cultural contexts. The Center’s Boe Forum on Public Affairs considers national and global issues of concern to the people of the Northern Plains. The CWS Public Affairs Series publishes books examining regional issues.

National Endowment for the Humanities Logo

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