The Amidon Affair of Sioux Falls

Background: My informant was young Caucasian man who was born and raised in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. He currently attends the University of Sioux Falls for Biology and History.

Main Piece: My informant told me about the story behind a historically recognized landmark of Sioux Falls. There is a obelisk that stands just outside of city limits that marks the place where supposedly the origins of the city originate. The story goes that when the first settles came to the area they were not accepted by the local Native Americans. As Judge Amidon and his son were out hunting, the son went one way away from his father. The son was found by the local tribe who killed him. They also hunted down the father and killed him with his own rifle. The local settlers at the time found out when they found their bodies. They buried them under a mound where the obelisk was marked. After this, the local town was evacuated. Soon after, the town was attacked by the same tribe who killed Amidon. They say that everyone would have died on that day if not for them being killed. A few years later, the settles came back and the town of Sioux Falls was formally founded. However, the tricky part is that, the bodies of Amidon and his son were never found again. An archaeologist was hired to examine the mound where they were supposedly buried, but their bones were never found. A couple other locations were also searched, but there was no definite finding for the duo. Thus, the story’s authenticity has been put into question. It is mostly important and memorable for the informant because they think we should see this as a way to see how we should inform our native/white relations today. The history has value to people and he thinks that this can be used to inform rather than showcase tyranny of the past. He has been thinking about writing a histographical paper on this subject for some time.

Performance Context: According to my informant, the informant’s mom was an aficionado of the occult, so she would tell her son (the informant) stories like this. He also knows about it through the historical plaque that is in front of the obelisk. The informant thinks he was taught the story to talk about Sioux/settle relations in the past, specifically to highlight how poor they were.

My Thoughts: I think it is interesting because it shows how we form significance and superstitious regarding our own creation myths for not only the world, but even our towns. The origins of Sioux Falls may go somewhat unrecorded because all we have to go off of is the words of a few would-be settlers at the time. However, the effect is strong enough that whoever is in charge of marking historical landmarks in South Dakota has gone to the trouble to even put up a official plaque that is used on various other landmarks in town. It is even given the name “Amidon Affair” to commemorate the story.