A Brief History Of Sioux Falls (Historical Timeline)

Jamie Jacobs
Jamie Jacobs joined APX Construction Group in June of 2020 specializing in interior design, marketing, event planning, and business development.
  • From museums to music festivals to picturesque state parks, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, is one of the most prominent cities in the Midwest.

    With a growing population of just under 200,000 people in 2021, Sioux Falls boasts fantastic food, education, and culture. But how did Sioux Falls become the bustling city it is today? Keep reading to learn about Sioux Falls’ history.

    Sioux Falls: What’s in a Name?

    Sioux Falls, South Dakota, takes its name from two entities:

    1. The indigenous Sioux tribe that originally populated the area, and
    2. The stunning waterfalls of the Big Sioux River
    drone shot of park in Sioux City

    The Sioux Native Americans are one of the largest indigenous tribes in North America, consisting of Dakota, Lakota, and Nakota subcultures. The Sioux originally occupied the Great Lakes region before expanding westward into the Great Plains region. Ultimately, the Sioux tribe claimed a large territory of the following modern-day states:

    • North Dakota
    • South Dakota
    • Montana
    • Wyoming
    • Colorado
    • Nebraska

    The Big Sioux River, a tributary of the Missouri River, flows through former Sioux territory in eastern South Dakota and northwestern Iowa. The river features a beautiful waterfall that locals and tourists can view at Falls Park in present-day downtown Sioux Falls.

    Source: Blackhillsvisitor.com

    Sioux Falls History From Settlement to Today


    While the Sioux Native Americans occupied the area, French fur trappers, land speculators, and other settlers expanded west into Dakota territory. Settlers in a group called the Western Town Company first staked claims in Sioux Falls in 1856 along the Big Sioux River prior to the Civil War. Shortly after, another settlement group called the Dakota Land Company also arrived in the area.


    Due to conflict between the Sioux Nation and settlers in 1862, the area was burned, and settlers fled. Three years later, the military reservation Fort Dakota was built, and settlers returned. Because of the area’s natural beauty and resources, Sioux Falls was considered a promising townsite and officially became a city in Minnehaha County in March of 1889.

    1900-Present Day

    Sioux Falls’ population grew quickly. By the start of the 1900s, the city’s population grew to over 10,000 people. Every decade since then, the population of Sioux Falls grew by an additional 10,000 residents. In 2021, the population reached almost 200,000 people, making it the largest city in South Dakota.

    The ample agricultural and water power resources in the Sioux Falls area continue to support residents in the same way they supported the Sioux Nation and settlers alike. Hundreds of years ago, people utilized the land for hunting bison and trading fur and maize. Today, agriculture remains a major industry in Sioux Falls.

    Aerial View of Sioux Falls, South Dakota at Sunset

    Unique Facts About Sioux Falls, South Dakota

    Sioux Falls’ history continues to develop, and the city is known for more than just agriculture. With a vibrant culture, Sioux Falls boasts international cuisine, fine art, and renowned educational institutions. Unique facts about Sioux Falls include:

    • Sioux Falls has over 80 parks and three state parks within a 45-minute drive.
    • The Sioux Falls Army Air Base housed thousands of soldiers from across the country during World War II.
    • Award-winning actor January Jones was born and raised in Sioux Falls.
    • There are seven colleges in Sioux Falls, including Augustana University and the University of Sioux Falls.
    Augustana University, a private Lutheran college in the upper Midwest a part of Sioux falls history
    • Sioux Falls is the home of the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra.
    • Sanford Health and Avera Health are the city’s largest employers, both in the biomedical space.
    • Falls Park is free for visitors all year round.
    • The city hosts over 40 marching bands from across the Midwest each year in the regional competition “Festival of Bands.”
    • The Sioux Falls SculptureWalk features over 60 impressive sculptures in downtown Sioux Falls. The sculptures are swapped out each May, and it is the largest year-round exhibit of public sculptures in the world.

    Explore All Sioux Falls Has to Offer

    Sioux Falls has a rich history, from the Sioux Nation cultivating the land for thousands of years, to new settlers expanding the city into a popular trade post, to modern residents excelling in medicine, education, and art.

    If you want to take advantage of the flourishing Sioux Falls area and build or remodel a business of your own, reach out to APX Construction Group today. We can turn your dreams into a reality!

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