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Happy birthday, South Dakota

My home state turned 125 this month. When I was little, you still occasionally met someone who remembered the days when it was Dakota Territory.

Ask me anything. State bird? The ring-necked pheasant, an import from China that was introduced for hunting. My dad often took payment in trade, so we ate pheasant (& buckshot) pretty frequently.

State tree? The telephone pole. That's a joke, at least East River, where I'm from, as most of the trees were planted as windbreaks by the CCC during the Depression. The first time I went to Wisconsin, I couldn't understand why the trees were in such disarray. I had never seen a forest. (The official answer: Black Hills spruce.)

State flower: the pasque, a tiny flower that's first up in the spring. The state Poetry Society's magazine was called Pasque Petals. Motto: Under God the people rule. Capital: Pierre (pronounced "peer").

Shall I go on? There's both a state mineral (pink quartz) & a state gem (agate), a state fish (walleye), sport (rodeo) & animal (coyote). Among its nicknames: The Mount Rushmore State; Great Faces, Great Places; Land of Infinite Variety; and The Sunshine State, which combined with "South" in the name, fooled my poor dad into thinking he was emigrating to somewhere warm and pleasant.
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