Almost time for a community birthday celebration

A Prairie Notebook

Time gets a lot of attention.
We’ve watched or will watch the big clock in Times Square count down the minutes to a new year – happy 2019!
Many of us spent precious time with family over the holidays, creating memories that can’t be easily forgotten or replaced.
Winter arrived in time to derail some travel plans or at least make getting places more nerve-wracking between Christmas and New Year’s.
Some of us watched on social media as four South Dakotans from the local racing circuit found rescuers in Wyoming working against time to rescue them when they became stranded over Christmas while snowmobiling near Laramie. The search and rescue teams reached them in time to find them alive and strong enough to snowshoe their way partially out of the area where they were stranded. The time in the wilderness and the days their families spent without knowing their whereabouts must have felt like time stood still.
There are countless other ways that time matters to each of us.
As a community, Flandreau gets to reflect this year on what 150 years as a town has meant. It’s 2019, time to mark a milestone birthday of 150 years with a July 3-6 celebration.
The area has a rich history of being inhabited by Indians for thousands of years. It was first settled in 1857 by Charles E. Flandrau, an Indian agent and territorial judge from Minnesota, but was abandoned in a year. In 1869, the colony of Christian Santee Sioux settled along the Big Sioux River and white settlers came to join them along the Big Sioux, and Flandreau was born.
The town of Flandreau was officially organized in 1879 and is the oldest town in Moody County. The county was established in 1873. The Moody County Enterprise is old, too, starting in June 1878. According to historical accounts, the town’s spelling – different than the founder’s name – is the result of the newspaper changing it back to “Flandreau” after people voted to change it in 1880 from “Flandreau,” the name given when it was platted, to “Flandrau.”
In trying to guess why the newspaper went with the original spelling, maybe it was because by that time, Flandreau had been this town’s official name for years.
Think back to what it must have been like at that time. South Dakota wasn’t a state yet, not until 1889, but Sioux people had lived here for generations. Think of the rich land, the wildlife and fishing, the bend in the Big Sioux River, the harsh winters, the opening in 1892 of the Flandreau Indian School (known first as the Riggs Institute.)
In those 150 years since one person decided to start a trading post, a community has built itself with thriving businesses, churches, homes and schools. Did founders dream of today’s Flandreau? Do we have visions of what the community will be like in 50, 100 and 150 years from now?
In just over six months, all the time spent planning and preparing for the Sesquicentennial will be over. It will be time to simply enjoy all of the labor to make for a great community celebration.


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