South Dakota State Names (Etymology of Names)

South Dakota Name Origin and State Nicknames

South Dakota is a state located in the Midwestern region of the United States. It is named after the Lakota and Dakota Sioux Native American tribes. South Dakota is the 17th most extensive, but the 5th least populous and the 5th least densely populated of the 50 United States. South Dakota is bordered to the north by North Dakota; to the south by Nebraska; to the east by Iowa and Minnesota; and to the west by Wyoming and Montana. The geographical center of the U.S. is 17 miles (27 km) west of Castle Rock in Butte County.

Dakota was what the Sioux Indians called themselves.

South Dakota Nicknames

  • The Mount Rushmore State (Official)
  • Sunshine State
  • Coyote State
  • Blizzard State
  • Artesian State
  • Land of Infinite Variety
  • Land of Plenty

Origin of South Dakota State Name

Dakota taken from the Sioux tribe, meaning "allies."

North and South Dakota were one territory until 1889. Dakota was named for the Dakota, Sioux tribe which lived in the region. Dakota is the Sioux word for "friends" or "allies."

South Dakota Nicknames

The Mount Rushmore State (Official)

In 1980, the motto, flag, and nickname was changed to "The Mount Rushmore State" because it was felt South Dakota couldn't compete with the other Sunshine State, Florida, which enhanced its reputation for sunshine with the nickname Orange State.

This epic sculpture features the faces of four exalted American presidents: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln. South Dakota's Black Hills provide the backdrop for Mount Rushmore, the world's greatest mountain carving. These 60-foot high faces, 500 feet up, look out over a setting of pine, spruce, birch, and aspen in the clear western air.

Sculptor Gutzon Borglum began drilling into the 5,725-foot mountain in 1927. Creation of the Shrine of Democracy took 14 years and cost a mere $1 million, though it's now deemed priceless.

South Dakota Statute
1-6-16.5. State nickname. The Mount Rushmore State" is hereby designated as the official nickname of the State of South Dakota.

Sunshine State

State motto, Sunshine State a name, which unlike the others, was retained and which was depicted on the state flag until 1980. In that year, South Dakota deferred to Florida's claim on the nickname and relaunched the state officially as the Mount Rushmore State, which appears in words on the state flag.

Coyote State

Inspired by a swift horse. The Coyote State, which comes from the prairie wolf, named by the Nahuatl Indians as the "coyotl", from which we get "Coyote" (and which is also a nickname for the residents of the state).

Land of Infinite Variety

The official pledge of the South Dakota flag is "I pledge loyalty and support to the flag and state of South Dakota, land of sunshine, land of infinite variety."

Artesian State

Artesian State (for the many artesian wells in the state.)

Land of Plenty

With an average of over four hundred acres of land for every family in the state having ability to support in comfort several times the present population South Dakota certainly deserves the title Land of Plenty. South Dakota has also been referred to as "The Land of Plenty" and "The Land of Infinite Variety." When both North and South Dakota are the subject, they are sometimes referred to as The Twin Sisters.

Blizzard State

The severe winter weather of South Dakota led to another nickname; The Blizzard State. We don't suppose those who promoted South Dakota as The Sunshine State were too fond of this particular nickname. Texas is also known as "The Blizzard State."

South Dakota Slogans

  • Great Faces. Great Places.

South Dakota Postal Code

  • SD

South Dakota Resident's Name

  • South Dakotan - Official (recommended by US GPO)
State Names
State Names & Nicknames

The Etymologies of US State Names