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Governor's Column: Grit and Tradition





Grit and Tradition

By Governor Kristi Noem

September 27, 2019

 

Many of my favorite childhood memories took place on the back of a horse. Whether I was in the rodeo, chasing cattle, hunting with my siblings, or riding through the hills, there was always something so special about engaging with nature. In many ways, it was through our experiences outside that we learned resiliency, hard work, and a love for the outdoors. We learned grit and perseverance.

 

This year, South Dakota has needed that grit. Everywhere I go, I hear how families, businesses, and farms have been impacted by the storms. As South Dakotans, we are used to extreme weather. But the persistent wet conditions, starting with the bomb cyclone in March and the heavy rain every few weeks since then, has created a slow-rolling natural disaster of epic proportions. For many, it’s been devastating.

 

In the middle of it all, though, shines that South Dakota grit. Many farmers face the most difficult growing conditions they’ve ever seen, but every morning, they climb into their combines hoping for a better day. Employers are experiencing workforce shortages and a lull in business because of the difficult ag economy. Yet every day, they turn on the lights and continue demonstrating hospitality and kindness. Neighbors help neighbors. People serve people. And in the face of adversity, we look for the good. We lend a helping hand. We celebrate our traditions – the things that bring us together.

 

In late September, we celebrated one of those traditions at the annual buffalo roundup in Custer State Park. I joined cowboys and cowgirls on horseback during a cool fall morning as we corralled 1,300 stampeding buffalo through the valley in Custer. The power and force behind the herd paralleled the beauty displayed all around us. The crisp air marked the continued tradition South Dakotans have enjoyed for generations.

 

See, the roundup is a unique tradition. While it’s a tip of the hat to our historic past when millions of buffalo roamed the Great Plains, it’s also an opportunity to showcase our state’s unique beauty to business leaders and prospects looking to expand their operations to South Dakota. This year, these businesses had a front row seat to our grit. Whether it’s recovering from storm damage or launching a new business venture, South Dakotans are second to none when it comes to helping each other and getting things done. It was truly a special time to put our state on display, celebrate everything we have to offer, and show the potential that lies within our people.

 

South Dakota is the best place to live. It’s the best place to start a business. It’s the best place to raise a family. We’ve gotten through tough times before, and we’ll get through this year, too. To be a South Dakotan is to celebrate tradition in the face of adversity. To have grit.

 

I’m proud of our state. I’m proud of our traditions. I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else. 

 

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