With over 20,000 items on display, the Heritage Hall Museum and Archives explores the history of German-Russian immigrants and others who settled in southeastern Dakota Territory in the 1870s.

Using a grant from the South Dakota Humanities Council (SDHC), Bates traveled to Freeman throughout the summer to identify artifacts and materials, including stories, personal histories and journals, books in German, maps and audio recordings, that could be used in courses he teaches at USD.

“These items speak not only to our state’s heritage and how that heritage defines who we are today, but it also gives students an opportunity to orient South Dakota’s identity and heritage with the international community of German language speakers,” said Bates.

Bates said he initiated this project because he believes that German immigration in South Dakota has been well documented, but little has been done to apply the heritage to teach language courses.

“Recent calls to decolonize and diversify the German curriculum across the country should also address the legacy and eventual assimilation of Germans in the United States,” said Bates. “With this curricular change, students will be able to connect local German heritage to an international community of language speakers, gain an appreciation for this link and acquire the intercultural competence necessary for success in an increasingly globalized world.”

Bates will present his findings at USD as part of the Humanities Research Forum on Nov. 4 from 3:30-5 p.m. in Old Main.

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