Black Hills History | Black Hills & Badlands - South Dakota
  • Black Hills History
    Black Hills History

    The history of the Black Hills is short and turbulent.

  • Black Hills History
    Black Hills History

    The history of the Black Hills is short and turbulent.

  • Black Hills History
    Black Hills History

    The history of the Black Hills is short and turbulent.

  • Black Hills History
    Black Hills History

    The history of the Black Hills is short and turbulent.

The history of the Black Hills is short and turbulent. In fact, dinosaur bones and some ancient archaeological sites from prehistory are the only hard evidence of happenings prior to 1700. The first trace of modern civilization dates from 1743 when New World explorers claimed the region for France. Sioux Indian tribes achieved dominance of Dakota in the 1780s and there was a brief but legendary Fur Trade Era that flourished between 1817 and 1857.

Homesteading, settlement and railroading were well underway in eastern South Dakota in 1857, but the Black Hills remained an unknown wilderness of Indian Country. The first maps of the Hills were drawn from military reconnaissance in 1856, and Lt. Col. George A. Custer touched off a gold rush to the Black Hills when his expedition discovered gold in 1874. Within 15 years, the Hills were “civilized” with settlements, railroads, institutions, industry and agriculture. In the process, the native peoples of Dakota were relegated to “reservations.”