New Republic: South Dakota is in the news because a consortium of journalists exposed shady doings there that take advantage of the state’s status as a notorious tax haven, and because the state’s governor, Kristi Noem, is caught up in an outrageous nepotism scandal and in general has been working overtime to wrestle the mantle of nation’s worst governor away from Ron DeSantis.
Say what you will about DeSantis, though, you won’t hear many people argue that Florida shouldn’t exist. South Dakota is another story.
The great state of South Dakota was stolen in 1743 by the French in the person of Louis-Joseph Gaultier de La Vérendrye. La Vérendrye—who very grandly called himself Le Chevalier—was a fur trapper and explorer acting on behalf of his father, Pierre, commandant of New France. (Nepotism is a South Dakota tradition.) The precise Native American tribe from whom South Dakota was stolen is not certain, but Le Chevalier called them the Gens de la Petite-Cerise or “People of the Little Cherry,” and probably they were the Arikara, a Plains Indians tribe that had broken off from the Pawnee.
This is the rare instance in human history in which the theft of somebody’s little cherry was commemorated on a chiseled plaque. That was a hunk of lead dug up in 1913 and known today as the Verendrye Plate. Bearing the inscription of King Louis XV, the plate had been engraved in Latin by Le Chevalier’s père (who, incidentally, is not the same Pierre after whom South Dakota’s capital city is named). Le Chevalier scattered similar lead plates along his journey, chortling in his journal about one of these that “the savages … did not know of the tablet of lead that I had placed in the earth.” Read more..