Roberts County Folklife Survey and Cultural Tours (2008-2010)

With the state showing a growing interest in cultural tourism, the SDAC decided to pursue a pilot project to develop tourism products based on the traditional cultures and communities of a region. We chose to focus on the northeast corner of the state, in Roberts County and the town of Sisseton, because there was an active local arts council and tourism board, and because of the interesting mix of Native American and European immigrant culture in the area. The two year project began with a year of fieldwork to interview artists and culture bearers, document community events such as pow wows and music jamborees, and hold a series of planning meetings on how best to promote the region’s culture. Partners in the project were the Sisseton Arts Council, the Heritage Museums of the Coteau des Prairies, the Sisseton Promotion Board, the Sisseton Chamber of Commerce, the Dakota Nation Art & Gift Store, and Sisseton-Wahpeton Community College.

The planning committee decided that a series of audio driving tours would be the best way for the public to access the rich culture and history of the area, so they contracted with MediaOne in Sioux Falls to produce the tours. The four loop tours all start in Sisseton, and each covers a different quadrant of the surrounding country, pointing out historical and geological sites, elements of the local economy such as farm fields, grain elevators, dairies, and quarries, local businesses and eateries, and providing first-person narration of community events and artistic traditions. The audio tours are available through the Chamber of Commerce and the Museums Board.

Claire City Café
Both the café and the grocery store in Claire City are cooperatively owned by community members.

Enemy Swim Powwow
The Enemy Swim community of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate holds a powwow every Labor Day weekend; here we see the grand entry.

Grace Lutheran Quilters
The women of Grace Lutheran Church in Sisseton meet every week to make quilts for charity.

Making Norwegian lefse at the Wilmot Fall Festival.

Peever Jamboree
The monthly Peever Music Jamboree was open to anyone who wants to perform; the Jamboree has since moved to Wilmot.