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Spirit of Dakota

South Dakota's Premier Woman's Award

Get Nomination Form

Established October 1987

Huron Event Center
Saturday October 4, 2014
2:00 PM Art Show Opens
3:00 PM Nominee Tea
5:30 PM Social
6:30 PM Award & Celebration Banquet
For Banquet Reservations & Tickets: $20
Crossroads Hotel for Rooms - 1-800-876-5858


Close August 1st


Nomination Forms
Please mail nominations to:
Spirit of Dakota Award Society
PO Box 280
Huron, SD 57350
Spirit of Dakota Event

Statement of Purpose & Criteria

Dakota Award

The Spirit of Dakota Award is an annual honor bestowed each fall by the Spirit of Dakota Award Society at a state-wide event at the Crossroads Hotel & Huron Event Center. The Spirit of Dakota award is given to:

  • An outstanding South Dakota woman who has demonstrated leadership qualities and has been successful and admired in her community and state.
  • A woman with roots deep in Dakota whose courage and strength of character have helped develop her family and community.
  • A woman who has represented social, cultural, and education advancement for others.
  • This award is not Mother of the Year, nor Teacher of the Year, nor categorized but rather a recognition of those outstanding women who have been the symbols of all that we are proud of in our Prairie Women.
  • The nominee does not need to be a native of South Dakota, but must be a current, living resident of the state.

History of Spirit of Dakota Award

The nine foot bronze sculpture "Spirit of Dakota" which stands at the entrance of the Crossroads Hotel & Huron Event Center is the source for the state-wide Spirit of Dakota Award. Dale Claude Lamphere, nationally recogonized sculptor and artist, is the creator. This sculpture of a pioneer woman balanced against the wind was unveiled and dedicated in October 1987 by the citizens of Huron and is the unique possession of this community.

Spirit of Dakota Award

Award Plaque

South Dakota's Premier Woman's Award

This prestigious Spirit of South Dakota award plaque is an outstanding piece of art; each individually created by renowned sculptor, Dale Claude Lamphere, and treasured by each honoree. A one-foot bronze oval is graced with the pioneer woman sculpted upon its facade. To further illuminate the award, the bronze oval is mounted on smoky black lucite which is etched with the award inscription. The final element of the honor is an 18x20 burnished gold wooden frame which securely hold the cherished woman.

2013 Spirit of Dakota Award Winner

Patricia K. Baird - Custer

“I know God will not give me anything I can't handle. I just wish that He didn't trust me so much” – Mother Theresa, social activist.

The example set by Mother Teresa inspires us to act on our best impulses, often not knowing what the outcome will be or if we will reach our intended goal. This year’s Spirit of Dakota Award recipient knows first-hand what it
takes to start with an idea and to watch it grow and take root – not only in her heart but in the hearts of many others inspired by her vision and passion.

Our 2013 honoree has had many roles in her life as a wife, mother, grandmother, businesswoman, youth leader, and community volunteer. At times she has received recognition for her many talents, while at other times the greatest reward has been a simple thank-you from those she has made a lasting
difference in their lives.

In a world filled with every device possible to communicate with others, our Spirit of Dakota winner expresses her warmth and caring by offering the generous gift of hospitality. Those receiving this gift are disabled veterans and their families through the Operation Black Hills Cabin project – a project prompted by one woman’s desire to show gratitude to the men and women who have served our country and have done so with great sacrifice and courage. 

As a result of the project, disabled veterans and their immediate families enjoy a vacation at little or no expense to them. Their week’s stay includes lodging, meals and admission to Black Hills attractions – no simple task but one that this courageous woman, her husband, Jeff, and a corps of community businesses and volunteers are making possible.

One of the most daunting tasks was finding suitable housing to accommodate disabled veterans with various medical needs. Her perseverance paid off with the acquisition of a Governor’s House built by the inmates at Springfield. The city of Custer donated an acre of land for the project. As word spread about Operation Black Hills Cabin, donations began to materialize. Some gave to honor a loved one killed in the line of duty. Others held “house
showers” to help furnish the cabin.

A project of this size soon required far more than she and her husband could ever tackle on their own. The entire project is now under the direction of a non-profit group formed by our Spirit of Dakota honoree.

Her generous nature doesn’t stop there. During her “spare time” she lovingly crafted quilts for each of the beds in the cabin. She enjoys working with the 4-H program serving as a judge. Sharing her love of horses with her grandchildren is one of her greatest joys.

The Spirit of Dakota winner demonstrates a willingness to serve others as evidenced by her active role in Custer’s Search and Rescue Team. This involves being on call 24/7 and responding to situations requiring great skill and endurance. She and her husband are among an elite group of Wilderness First Responders. She is also a member of the Patriot Guard Riders.

Our 2013 Spirit of Dakota Award honoree has made a large difference in so many people’s lives. She possesses the strength of character, courage, involvement, leadership and willingness to serve others so like the pioneer women of long ago. It is with great pride and much honor that the Spirit of Dakota Award Society presents Patricia K. Baird of Custer, SD as the 2013 recipient of the Spirit of Dakota Award. 

2014 Nominees 

  • Julaine Arient-Rollman, Rapid City  
  • Wanda Drake, Lake Norden
  • Shirley Eisnach, Pierre
  • Rozella Glanzer, Huron
  • Melissa Johnson, Aberdeen
  • Linda Rabe, Rapid City
  • Lorraine Rousseau, Sisseton
  • Theresa Stehly, Sioux Falls
  • Renee Sutton, Burke
  • Louann Streff, Clark
  • Gretchen Tweet, Sioux Falls
  • Suzi Vail, Leganon
  • Karen Wagner, Belle Fourche


Distinguished Honorees

  • 1987 - *Mrs. Winifred Lorentson, Miller
  • 1988 - *Dr. Jeanie K. Sherman, Madison
  • 1989 - *Florence Bruhn, Watertown
  • 1990 - *Jeanette Lusk, Huron
  • 1991 - *Dorothy (D.J.) Cline, Brookings
  • 1992 - No Award Presentaion
  • 1993 - *Ruth Ziolkowski, Custer
  • 1994 - Sylvia Henkin., Sioux Falls
  • 1995 - Irene Fisher Coon, Sioux Falls
  • 1996 - Hildreth Twostars Venegas, Sisseton
  • 1997 - Lorraine Huntimer, Oldham
  • 1998 - Mary Lou Tripp, Belle Fourche
  • 1999- Marsha Sumpter, Phillip
  • 2000- *Donna Schipke, Newell
  • 2001 - Phyllis White Eyes DeCory, Rapid City
  • 2002 - Virginia Keil Lardinois, Huron
  • 2003 - Patricia Fawcett, Ree Heights
  • 2004 - *Alice Kundert, Mound City
  • 2005 - No Award Presentation
  • 2006 - Janice Manolis, Huron
  • 2007 - June James - Hazel
  • 2008 - Elaine Doll-Dunn - Spearfish
  • 2009 - Julie Garreau - Eagle Butte
  • 2010 - Dorothy Kellogg - Watertown
  • 2011 - Millie Humphrey - Whitewood
  • 2012 - Mary J. Milroy, MD - Yankton
  • 2013- Patricia Baird, Custer



Selection Commission

  • Bette Poppen, Chair - DeSemt
  • Glenna Fouberg - Aberdeen
  • Jean Hunhoff - Yankton
  • First Lady Linda Daugaard - Pierre
  • Suzette Kirby - Sioux Falls
  • Tona Rozum - Mitchell
  • Julie Garreau - Eagle Buttte
  • Marsha Sumpter - Kadoka
  • Ginger Thomson - Brookings
  • Judy Trzynka - Watertown
  • Bev Wright - Turton

Spirit of Dakota Award Society

Marilyn Hoyt, Chairman

  • Beckie Freeman
  • Deannie LeRoux
  • Rosemary Moeller
  • Shelley Noonan
  • Mary Pearson
  • Bette Poppen
  • Terri Anderson-Schlader
  • Linda Schwartz
  • JoAnne Thurnbeck
  • Mary Walz
  • Cindy Wilk
  • Mary Helen Wipf
  • Darcy Haber
  • Sarah Rubish
  • Erica McNeil
  • Jenny Sorben
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