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After the West Was Won: Homesteaders and Town-Builders in by Paula M. Nelson

By Paula M. Nelson

Western South Dakota 1900-1917

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Between 1909 and 1915 the land office opened three more tracts in western South Dakota using the registration system. In October 1909, 81,456 people registered for 10,000 claims on the Cheyenne River and Standing Rock reservations in north central South Dakota. In October 1911, a million and a half acres of the Rosebud and Pine Ridge reserves were thrown open. The counties included Mellette, Washabaugh, and Bennett. Proportionately fewer people took part in these lotteries; only 53,728 people applied.

To help reduce congestion at the registration points, land office officials established registration centers in six townsChamberlain, Dallas, Gregory, and Presho in South Dakota, and O'Neill and Valentine in Nebraska. The winners in the October drawing could not make entry until March 1, 1909, and did not have to establish residence until September. Federal officials hoped Page 19 that this flexibility would allow settlers enough time to raise the money for their first payments and give farmers the choice of raising a crop at home and then moving to the claim or moving in the spring to begin farming at once.

Other areas included the country around Page 11 the Slim Buttes and Cave Hills in Harding County and the Grand and Moreau river valleys. The most famous area of Badlands was that along the White River. The subtly colored, castlelike spires of rock stretched for more than a hundred miles and created a formidable barrier to communication and transportation. The Great Wall, a sixty-mile-long line of cliffs and pinnacles, marked the northern bluff of the White River. Before highway engineers arrived to reshape the passes, travel across the Wall was limited to one steep wagon trail through Cedar Pass and two or three trails that could be negotiated only on foot or horseback.

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