Situated at the crossroads between the farmlands of the Midwest and the more arid high steppe of the Rocky Mountain foothills, South Dakota's striking geography varies considerably from the sunflower fields of the eastern Prairie Coteau to the western ragged moonscape of the Black Hills. The Missouri River divides the state geographically, and widens considerably into the snaking Lake Oahe just north of capital Pierre. South Dakota had long been home and bison hunting ground for the Sioux (or Dakota) tribes by the time the first permanent American settlement was established at Fort Pierre in 1817. The number of white settlers increased dramatically when gold was discovered in the Black Hills in 1874. Despite fierce resistance by Sioux tribes in the area, led by Chief Crazy Horse and spiritual leader Sitting Bull, the American Indian population could not resist the flood of European settlers. The conflict culminated in the Wounded Knee Massacre, where some 150 unarmed Sioux - including women and children - were killed. Only a year earlier (November 2nd 1889), South Dakota and North Dakota had been admitted to the Union by President Benjamin Harrison.
Just under half of South Dakota's population is rural according to 2005 estimates, with the majority of the urban population located in the extreme southeast - clustered around the largest city Sioux Falls - and along the Interstate corridors which bisect the state. Over 40% of South Dakotans claim German ancestry, and the Native Indian population, at approximately 8.3%, is the third highest in the U.S. The relatively secluded capital of Pierre on the banks of the Missouri river is the second smallest capital in the U.S. (after Montpelier Vermont) with a population of 13,876 in the 2000 census. Tourism is a major industry in some parts of South Dakota, with Mount Rushmore in the Black Hills leading the way, followed by the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally held yearly, the Wall Drug store in the town of Wall, and the Corn Palace in Mitchell. A demographic phenomenon known as 'rural flight' is currently taking place in South Dakota, which has some of the cheapest real estate in all of the United States. One-time Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle and former Presidential hopeful George McGovern are notable liberal Democrats in an otherwise conservative state. South Dakota sent its 3 electoral votes to George W. Bush in 2004 by an overwhelming margin of 22 percentage points. The state has one seat in the House of Representatives.