Which came first: South Dakota or North Dakota?

South Dakota and North Dakota have the same state name: Dakota, which I’m guessing is a Native American word that means something. Which state had that name first? Did one Dakota steal the name from the other Dakota? Or were they the same state named Dakota that chose to split into two? These are questions that we may never find a true answer to and must wildly speculate on, which I will proceed to do. From what I can reason, there can only be four possibilities:

  1. South Dakota existed first and people north of the state copied the name.
  2. North Dakota existed first and people south of the state copied the name.
  3. Dakota existed and split into North and South Dakota.
  4. Both North and South Dakota spontaneously sprung into existence at the same time.

I figure that we can find out which came first by looking for the years in which each state joined the Union. I set out on this quest by going around and looking for quarters, some of which may have the name of a state and it’s foundation year on the back but I found none that were relevant to my question. However, I noticed that the new quarters were quite nice; they featured a large image in the middle, usually of some natural landscape, and along the rim the state’s name, the year it joined the union, and a short motto were inscribed; an understated presentation that highlighted the beauty of our great nation. Half an hour later I had not gotten any closer to answering my question.

Racking my brain, I remember Google, the world’s most used search engine, but that would also mean that it would be the most susceptible to false internet facts, so to preserve my journalistic integrity, I must use a lesser known search engine.

Into Yahoo.com, I type “south dakota fou” and it recognizes the nature of my query and suggests “south dakota founding date” which I click. The first link is from Wikipedia.com, a wildly unreliable website full of false information. I move on to the next one. It has a weird URL and leads to a post titled South dakota founding date on a website called “Top dating coaches 2018”. To my disappointment, I realize it’s full of random keywords that must be trying to improve its search engine visibility, which is clearly working for Yahoo! (click the link it’s quite a read). I move on to the next hit, but that one only lists South Dakotan private schools by their date of founding.

After the third link, I am defeated and decide to use the first link, which directs me to the dreaded Wikipedia page on South Dakota. I find the date for admission to the Union: the 2nd of November in 1889. Still wary of internet lies, I decide to dig into the revision history for the page. It’s a mess of words and numbers and dates that I don’t understand at all, so I give up and decide to accept the page as gospel:

South Dakota became a state on November 2, 1889, simultaneously with North Dakota.

South Dakota, wikipedia.org

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