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West River (South Dakota): Wikis

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The Missouri River divides South Dakota into the regions of West River (yellow) and East River (blue).

West River is the portion of the state of South Dakota located west of the Missouri River with well over one-half of the land area and between one-quarter and one-third of the population of the state. Usually pronounced "Wes-triver" by locals, it contrasts with "East River."

The contrast between the two regions is stark. While East River is predominantly a corn- and wheat-growing region with large numbers of pigs and poultry, West River is predominantly ranching with some dryland farming. Other than aggregates, all mining in South Dakota (including gold and other precious metals, industrial minerals, iron ore, and coal) is located in West River, which includes the Black Hills. While East River was settled largely by homesteaders moving west from Iowa and Minnesota, or immigrants directly by train from eastern US seaports, West River was settled first by gold-seekers and miners; many from older gold rush locations such as Montana and Colorado, then followed by ranchers from Texas, Kansas, and Colorado. As a result, while East River has a high Scandinavian and German-descended population and a culture quite similar to Minnesota; West River has a more general population and a culture similar to the Mountain states.

Although approximately 10% of South Dakota's population is Native American[1] and Indian Reservations exist in both sides of the state, more than 20% of the population of West River consists of Native Americans; this includes residents of the five West River reservations as well as populations in urban centers such as Rapid City. West River also has a larger military influence, with both Ellsworth Air Force Base and most installations of the South Dakota Army National Guard there; only the South Dakota Air National Guard is located in East River (at Joe Foss Field in Sioux Falls). West River is politically more conservative and Republican than East River,[2] but the state Republican Party is normally dominated by East River interests, and Walter Dale Miller, the only West River governor in the state's recent history, came to office due to the death of Governor George S. Mickelson, in 1993.[3]

References

  1. ^ South Dakota QuickFacts from the US Census Bureau
  2. ^ Johnson, Dirk. Gold Divides Dakotans as River Did The New York Times. 9 October 1988. (accessed 14 February, 2008)
  3. ^ The Political Graveyard: Index to Politicians: Micheau to Middleswarth

Coordinates: 44°30′N 102°00′W / 44.5°N 102°W / 44.5; -102

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