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How to Piss Off a South Dakotan

South Dakota
by Laura Ackerwold Nov 10, 2015

Ask us what it’s like to live like a “pioneer.”

We get that you read Little House on the Prairie as a child, but that doesn’t mean our state has failed to progress with the rest of the country. We didn’t hitch up the wagon to draw water from the Big Sioux today, nor do we churn our butter by hand. And—believe it or not— we, too, enjoy the luxuries of indoor plumbing. When you ask us questions of this nature, you leave us to decipher whether you have a stale sense of humor or are just completely ignorant.

Pronounce Pierre with a French accent.

The only downside to our small population is that we don’t have enough people to broadcast the correct pronunciation of our state capital to the rest of the country. The capital is named after Pierre Chouteau, Jr., an American fur trader. Regardless of it’s French origin, South Dakotans pronounce it “Peer”. We can hardly bear to hear you revive your 9th grade French skills and pronounce it “pee-AIR” as if you are Monsieur Chouteau himself. Give us a break.

Lead a PETA protest outside of The Cattleman’s Club Steakhouse.

We don’t agree with animal cruelty. We do, however, agree with a large, tender filet mignon sizzling on our plate. Hundreds of family operated farms and ranches extend across South Dakota to raise cattle, swine, and poultry, and industries like Morrell Meats have been processing meat products for the nation for more than a hundred years. The animal industry is an important part of our economy, and we are always hungry to reap the benefits. So please, take your pickets and tears to another state. We’re trying to enjoy our dinner.

Mock our state for having a high concentration of farmland.

“Your state has more cows than people!” scoffs the guy drinking a glass of milk with his pinky in the air. Yeah, we can agree that the idea of “drive your tractor to school” day is a bit corny, but we will not tolerate you looking down on our state for all of its farmers and ranchers—hard working men and women who invest an incredible amount of time, intelligence and sweat to put food onto your table. Valley Queen Cheese processes nearly a billion and a half gallons of milk annually, and one South Dakota farmer raises enough food to feed 155 people for an entire year. It’s an important industry that deserves a lot more respect than it gets.

Make us have to suddenly have to wait for something.

We South Dakotans tend to think of ourselves as patient, but the truth is we just don’t have to exhibit this virtue often. The quickest way to upset us is to make us wait for something. We get hot under the collar standing in line at Hy-Vee for longer than five minutes, and road rage ensues if we have to sit through two rounds of red lights at the intersection of 41st Street and Louise. We aren’t used to waiting—it’s a perk of having less than a million people in the state.

Mistake us for being from North Dakota.

“Excuse me…No. I actually said south. I am from SOUTH Dakota.” To you it may seem like a simple mix-up, but to us it feels catastrophic. Whether it’s Sioux Falls or Fargo, Jackrabbits or Bison, Badlands National Park or Theodore Roosevelt National Park—we’ll always want to be associated with the South.

Take it one step further and categorize us as “The Dakotas.”

Let’s be clear—we haven’t been “The Dakotas” since Benjamin Harris signed South Dakota into the union in 1889. There is a distinct, legal separation and we would like it to remain that way.

Encroach on our coveted hunting “hot spots.”

South Dakota is teaming with prey and predators, and it’s best you don’t over step your boundaries. We are constantly searching for the property lines that hide the largest bucks and the counties that yield the most roosters. We spend hours investigating what shorelines along the Missouri River hold hungry walleyes, and this research becomes highly confidential. If you are lucky enough to be invited to hunt or fish in these coveted spots, this is by no means an open invitation to show up again whenever you would like.

Assume life on the prairie is bland and boring.

If your idea of excitement is a bustling metropolis and stimulating crowds, then yes, you will find South Dakota terribly boring. But the reason we love our state is because we are able to look past the endless fields of prairie grass and see all that it has to offer. We know about the secret serenity of the quartzite gorges in the Palisades and the best pine ridges to hike for breathtaking views of The Hills. We aren’t interested in littering our starlit sky with glittering skyscrapers. We prefer the vacancy of Interstate 90 to a congested traffic jam. We’ll gladly trade you a martini with an olive for a Budlight with a pickle. You can keep your swanky night clubs, we would rather have sawdust bar floors. And we aren’t looking for five-star restaurants either—we’d rather invite you over for a cheeseburger and potato salad on our back deck. If you set aside your superficial judgments, we’ll show you what life is really like on the prairie.

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