Religion and Spirituality in the Northern Plains: Observing the 500th Anniversary of The Reformation

Harry Thompson's picture
Call for Papers
February 10, 2017
South Dakota, United States
Subject Fields: 
American History / Studies, Literature, Native American History / Studies, Religious Studies and Theology, Social History / Studies

The 49th annual Dakota Conference on Northern Plains History, Literature, Art, and Archaeology, April 21-22, 2017, will examine the variety of religious expression in the Northern Plains region, both historical and contemporary. The conference is presented by the Center for Western Studies at Augustana University with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Great Plains historian Douglas Hurt observes that religious preferences in the plains were formed as much by ethnicity as by theology. In The Big Empty, Hurt writes, “Theologically, the Great Plains men and women lived in an Old Testament world where reality was often harsh and unforgiving, but they prayed with hope and expectation to a New Testament God.” Since early contact, Plains Indians have struggled to maintain aspects of their spiritual traditions. Today the pipe ceremony, vision quest, sweat lodge, and peyotism continue to be practiced by Native Americans in the Northern Plains.

Euroamerican settlement of the Northern Plains brought such mainline religions as Protestantism, Catholicism, and Judaism. Varying degrees of spiritual emphasis, such as fundamentalism, evangelicalism, utopianism, pietism, and dispensationalism, are present in the plains. The Mormon Pioneer Trail passed directly through Nebraska, and Mormonism is practiced throughout the plains.  Hutterites maintain several colonies. The diversity of religious practices in the plains continues apace, with adherents of such eastern religions as Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism.

Submission requirements:  Send a one-page paper or panel proposal with title, brief summary, and biographical sketch, along with full contact information, to  or, by mail, to “Dakota Conference,” The Center for Western Studies, Augustana University, 2001 S Summit Ave, Sioux Falls, SD 57197. Proposals are due on or before February 10, 2017. Additional information may be found at

Contact Info:  or, by mail, to “Dakota Conference,” The Center for Western Studies, Augustana University, 2001 S Summit Ave, Sioux Falls, SD 57197. Additional information may be found at