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Unit 9


Changing Times

Lesson 4
A New Age

     A blue-gray light now cast its glow in South Dakota living rooms. The light came from a new invention. It was television, or TV. It brought black-and-white moving pictures of the world onto a small screen. Americans soon owned millions of television sets. TV stations sprang up all over the country. There was one in Sioux Falls. Mitchell and Rapid City soon had one, too.

TV 50s
Photo courtesy of South Dakota State Historical Society


Captain 11, 1962
Photo courtesy of South Dakota State Historical Society

     TV was mesmerizing. Families came together to watch it. They saw "The Ed Sullivan Show" or "I Love Lucy." Local stations set up their own programs. In South Dakota, "Captain 11" was a hit. Families did not want to miss their favorite shows. Companies began to make frozen TV dinners and TV trays. People could eat in front of their TV sets. Before long, TV programs could be seen "in living color."



     At the same time, the United States sent troops into South Vietnam. They hoped to stop the Communists from taking over that country. The Cold War had heated up once again. This was called the Vietnam War. It was the longest war in United States history. Thousands of soldiers died. Two hundred were from South Dakota. Many people began to think the war was wrong. This became a big issue in the elections.

     One United States senator from South Dakota was for the war in Vietnam. His name was Karl Mundt. The other senator was against the war. His name was George McGovern. The Democratic party picked McGovern to run for president of the United States. The year was 1972. He lost the election, but his point of view won support.


     The war was only one of the things that troubled people at this time. Many Americans thought there were problems with the Constitution. Did it guarantee the rights of women and minorities, they asked? Did these groups have equal access to schools and jobs? Could African Americans and American Indians get good housing? Could they get good health care? If not, what could be done? It was an era of social change.

McGovern Card
Photo courtesy of South Dakota State Historical Society

ERA Button
Photo courtesy of South Dakota State Historical Society

     Feminists came to the state capitol to support the Equal Rights Amendment. Others met there to oppose it. Some American Indians started a new group. They called it the American Indian Movement (AIM). Members wanted better laws for American Indians. They took over the town of Wounded Knee. Gunfire broke out between them and federal marshals. Several people died. This was known as Wounded Knee II. (You read about the first Wounded Knee in Unit 5). The issues of civil rights are still with us today, but some changes were made. New laws gave more chances to women and minorities. Soon the Cold War was over, too. The Soviet Union was no more.

     During this time, South Dakota colleges began to teach a new subject. It was called computer science. Not many people owned computers. Computers were big and they cost a great deal of money. They also held much promise for the state. Senator Mundt and Congressman Benjamin Reifel worked to bring a huge computer center here. It was called the Eros Data Center. It is still near Sioux Falls today.

EROS Processing
Photo from United States Department of Interior brochure (1978)


     Computers became smaller. They were easier to use. Businesses and governments bought them. So did schools and families. Computers were soon linked to each other. This is called the Internet. At first, only a few were linked. People could send e-mail messages, but it took hours to get from one computer to another. Today, this has changed. The Internet is now a Worldwide Web. It connects people all over the world. A classroom like yours can talk instantly with classrooms in other countries. Our history is suddenly their history—and theirs is ours.



     At the dawn of a new millennium, South Dakota is still changing. The Homestake Mining Company has closed. A Mexican company now runs what was once the state cement plant. South Dakotans still move from small towns to bigger ones.

     The population is growing again. There are more people than ever before. Now 882,235 people live in our state. Every one of us makes history every day.

     Who can say what is ahead?

     By knowing our past and sharing our common heritage, we can make history together. 

     Right here in South Dakota.

     You and me.

Chalkboard to Computer Graphic

access (n.), chance or ability to use something

feminists (n.), people who believe in equal rights for women and men

guarantee (v.), to promise or assure something

mesmerizing (adj.), capturing all your attention

millennium (n.), a period of one thousand years

minorities (n.), smaller groups differing in race, religion, or background from a larger group

social (adj.), relating to how people live and work in society