South Dakota

South Dakota
a state in the N central United States: a part of the Midwest. 690,178; 77,047 sq. mi. (199,550 sq. km). Cap.: Pierre. Abbr.: SD (for use with zip code), S. Dak.

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State (pop., 2000: 754,844), north-central U.S. It covers 77,116 sq mi (199,730 sq km); its capital is Pierre.

South Dakota is bordered on the north by North Dakota, on the east by Minnesota and Iowa, on the south by Nebraska, and on the west by Wyoming and Montana. The state has three main regions
the eastern prairie; the central Great Plains, which contain the Badlands; and the Black Hills to the west. The Missouri River bisects it from north to south. The French explored the area in the 18th century and sold it to the U.S. as part of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. The Lewis and Clark Expedition spent about seven weeks there in 1804. The Dakota Territory was created in 1861, but settlement was sparse until the Black Hills gold rush of 1875–76 swelled the population. Intermittent wars between the Indians and immigrant whites occurred until the massacre at Wounded Knee in 1890. South Dakota became the 40th U.S. state in 1889. Farming and related industries form the state's economic base. It is a leader in cattle and hog production, and its main crops are grains. Tourism is a major industry; attractions include Mount Rushmore, Wind Cave National Park, Badlands National Park, and Jewel Cave National Monument.

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South Dakota, flag of  constituent state of the United States of America. It is a Great Plains state bordered on the north by North Dakota, on the east by Minnesota and Iowa, on the south by Nebraska, and on the west by Wyoming and Montana. Its boundaries contain 77,116 square miles (199,730 square kilometres), which are split by the upper Missouri River valley into “east-river” and “west-river” regions. The state is named for the Dakota division of the Sioux Indians. Pierre, near the centre of South Dakota, is one of the smallest state capital cities; it is named for the 19th-century St. Louis, Mo., magnate Pierre Chouteau, Jr. South Dakota was admitted to the Union as the 40th state on Nov. 2, 1889.

      South Dakota remains a predominantly rural state. Slightly less than one-tenth of the population is American Indian, representing 13 tribes of the Sioux. The non-Indian populace contains more than 20 ethnic and religious groups that retain some Old Country ways—Norwegians, Swedes, Danes, Dutch, Irish, German-Russians, Mennonites, Hutterites, “Plain Germans,” several subdivisions of Czechs, English, Welsh, and others. In a society of such diverse heritage there is no typical South Dakotan.

Physical and human geography

The land
  Eastern South Dakota lies within the glaciated physiographic province known as the Prairie Plains. West-river, except for the Black Hills in the southwestern corner, has the rolling topography of the unglaciated Great Plains, characterized by high buttes, rough canyons, and wide expanses of nearly level tablelands. It includes the Badlands, which extend along the White and Cheyenne rivers for more than 100 miles (160 kilometres). The eroded landscape of the Badlands has been a rich repository of fossilized prehistoric animals and the primary source of the siltation that has given the Missouri its nickname, Big Muddy.

      The Black Hills—two-thirds of which lie in South Dakota, with the remainder in Wyoming—constitute a dome-shaped uplift rising 3,500 feet (1,100 metres) above the surrounding terrain. Harney Peak, near the centre of the formation, at 7,242 feet (2,207 metres) above sea level, is the highest point in North America east of the Rocky Mountains.

      The Missouri River drains all of the state except the northeastern counties, from which runoff flows through Big Stone Lake and Lake Traverse, near the Hudson Bay–Gulf of Mexico divide, into the Minnesota River and the Red River of the North. In eastern South Dakota the principal tributaries of the Missouri are the Big Sioux, Vermillion, and James rivers, which flow southward. In the west-river region the Grand, Moreau, Cheyenne, Bad, and White flow eastward to drain the Black Hills and the Great Plains.

      The chernozem, or black, soils, formed mostly from glacial drift and well adapted for wheat and corn (maize), cover the east-river area. Within the Great Plains province are the chestnut and Pierre, or gumbo, soils, distinguished by their heavy, sticky texture. They are well suited for grassland industries.

      The climate is characterized by extremes in temperature, low precipitation, and relatively low humidity. The skies are generally clear. Cyclonic storms occur frequently in the east-river section during the spring and summer. A weather station at east central Huron reports average lows of 2° F (−17° C) and highs of 23° F (−5° C) in January, as well as average lows of 61° F (16° C) and highs of 87° F (31° C) in July. Extreme temperatures recorded are −39° F (−39° C) and 112° F (44° C). The average number of frost-free days ranges from 160 in the southeast to 110 in the Black Hills.

      The average annual precipitation for the state is 19 inches (480 millimetres), but it ranges from about 24 inches along the eastern border to 14 inches or less in the northwestern corner. In the centre of the state, the transitional zone between the Prairie Plains and the Great Plains, precipitation drops from 20 inches to 18 inches. About three-fourths of the rain falls during the growing season, and snowfall ranges from about 22 to 60 inches. The Black Hills region receives more moisture, especially in winter, than the surrounding plains.

Plant and animal life
      At the time of settlement by non-Indians the east-river region was a prairie covered by a thick matte of tall grasses growing to a height of three feet or more. These tall grasses have a deep root system adapted to subhumid conditions. The shortgrass species, chiefly the grama, buffalo, and western wheat grasses, are endemic to the Great Plains. Drought-resistant with a shallow root system, they mature quickly.

      The wooded areas lie mainly in the Black Hills and along the buttes that rise in the northwestern part of the state. Most wooded acreage is incorporated into the Black Hills National Forest and the Custer National Forest. The western yellow, or ponderosa, pine is the chief commercial tree.

      Custer State Park in the Black Hills has a large herd of bison. Other Black Hills species include antelope, deer, elk, beaver, bobcat, and porcupine. Coyotes, jackrabbits, and prairie dogs are plentiful elsewhere. The state has nearly 300 species of birds. Bald and golden eagles are found along the Missouri valley and in the Badlands. The Missouri is an important flyway for the north–south migration of waterfowl, mostly ducks and geese. South Dakota has long been a hunter's paradise because of its plentiful supply of ring-necked pheasants, a game bird introduced into the state from Asia early in the 20th century.

Settlement patterns
      During the second quarter of the 18th century, most of the Sioux, in a federation of 13 tribes, abandoned east central Minnesota and spread westward to settle their former hunting areas on the prairie and the Great Plains. The Yankton division claimed most of east-river, while the Teton tribes, together with Yanktonai, occupied west-river. Present-day South Dakota lies near the centre of some 80,000,000 acres (32,380,000 hectares) that once comprised Sioux country.

      Between the American Revolution and the middle of the 19th century, some non-Indians settled along the Missouri valley. More immigrants, of northern and western European heritage, spread out across the east-river farmland from the mid-1850s to the late 1880s. Others, mainly of eastern European origin, joined migrants from settled U.S. communities to the east and took over the best arable and grazing areas west of the Missouri River by 1920.

      Except for the Black Hills region, the west-river area has only about two persons per square mile, in contrast with the northeastern and southeastern regions, where the density is generally four times greater. Only about one-fifth of the rural residents in the state live west of the Missouri River.

      The east-river section comprises two demographic areas, approximately north and south of a line running eastward from Pierre. Cash-crop farming prevails to the north, with reliance on wheat and other small-grain crops. To the south a more diversified farming economy exists, with feed grains and livestock production as its specialties.

The people
Ethnic distribution
      The Indians of South Dakota maintain a way of life established by forebears as their reservations were founded to make room for white settlement during the 19th century. Some three-fourths of the Indians claim reservation residence. Most urban Indians in the state either live on the reservations part-time or make frequent visits to them to maintain cultural ties, while they take advantage of the job and educational opportunities offered in urban areas.

      The earliest white settlers who followed British and French fur traders into what is now South Dakota came mainly from the upper Mississippi valley, many with a New England background. Immigrants arriving directly from northern and central Europe also played an important part in the colonizing process. In 1890 one-third of the white residents were foreign-born. Although today only a small percentage of the residents are foreign-born, nearly half the population are only two or three generations removed from Europe. The Americanization of the general population, white and Indian alike, is apparent. Yet ethnicity is featured in rural enclaves through the preservation of languages, religious affiliations, food preparations, festive celebrations, and ethnic educational efforts.

      Those of Scandinavian descent make up about a third of the foreign stock. The Norwegians are located mostly in the east-river region, and Swedish and Danish communities are found in the southeastern part of the state. Persons of German descent make up about a sixth of the population, with a substantial number reportedly using German as a first or second language. They include German-Russians, who are heavily concentrated near Yankton in the southeast and in three north central counties. The Czechs, largely Bohemians, generally live in the south central counties. The Dutch, the Finns, and the Welsh are scattered across the eastern part of the state.

      Immigrant groups established about half of the state's churches. Their religious institutions not only promoted social solidarity but also played an important part in the acculturation process. In 1890, Roman Catholics were the most numerous, with Lutherans a close second; today, however, Lutherans outnumber Roman Catholics. Other leading churches are the Methodist, United Church of Christ, Presbyterian, Episcopal, and Baptist.

      German groups include Mennonites and Hutterian Brethren. The Hutterites (Hutterite) live in isolated colonies, most of them in the James River basin, where they practice communal agriculture. For their refusal to support American involvement in World War I, the Hutterites were driven into temporary exile in Canada. In 1955 they were subjected to a state law prohibiting the expansion of their colonies or the formation of additional communities. They have circumvented this law by changing their legal status from that of church to corporation, but they remain under social pressure as anomalies in the general population.

      Roman Catholics have stood out, too, as an important and somewhat persecuted minority. To preserve their faith and avoid harassment, those of Irish, German, and Czech descent formed rural enclaves and supported ecclesiastical schools and hospitals, some of which have survived as institutions vital to the entire population. During the 1920s Catholics were the primary victims of attack by Ku Klux Klan groups in the state. Shunned by the Protestant majority in organized sports, Catholics formed a separate high-school athletic conference early in the 1920s that was not allowed to merge with the public system until forced by the legislature to do so in 1966.

      The most maligned of all groups for religious behaviour have been the Indians. Only their Sun Dance was ever declared illegal by federal officials, but Indian worship involving the Sacred Pipe and peyote had been driven underground through social pressure and economic discrimination by the 1920s. Tribal members fashioned a “Reservation Christianity,” blending Indian traditions with the teachings of Roman Catholic, Presbyterian, Congregational, and Episcopal missionaries. The cross, the pipe, and peyote are focal points of a spiritual environment that is distinctively Indian and remote from the majority of white South Dakotans. In this isolated ecumenical environment, the sun dance has resurfaced.

The economy
      Since the fur trade era, the economy of South Dakota has relied mainly on livestock production, farming, tourism, and forest and mineral industries. In addition, the state has benefited from federal installations—notably from operations of U.S. Indian agencies, facilities built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers along the Missouri basin, national parks and monuments, and Ellsworth Air Force Base, a part of the Strategic Air Command.

      Cash income from livestock and livestock products is generally several times that from crops. South Dakotans are among the leading cattle producers in the United States, and they also rank among the top wool producers in the nation. The state ranks high in the production of rye and flaxseed as well as spring wheat. It is usually among the top 10 states in corn and alfalfa-seed production. Normally, some 300,000 acres are under irrigation, mostly in the west-river region.

      Tourism is second to livestock production and farming in the state's economy. Major industrial goods are food products, light machinery, and lumber and wood materials. Meat processing is important, and there are increasing numbers of “clean” industries, such as a major bank credit-card centre in Sioux Falls.

      Principal mining products are gold, cement, stone, and sand and gravel. Gold is extracted from the Homestake Mine at Deadwood-Lead, and cement is produced by the state government in Rapid City. Large lignite beds containing low-grade uranium deposits await development.

      The multipurpose Oahe, Big Bend, Fort Randall, and Gavins Point dams on the Missouri River have made South Dakota a major producer of hydroelectric power, most of which is transmitted to consumers outside the state. South Dakotans rely heavily on coal- or oil-fired electrical plants, which are considerably more expensive to operate than hydroelectric plants. Nevertheless, nearly all South Dakota farms are electrified through rural cooperatives.

      The transformation of 19th-century surface trails into modern roads began early in the 20th century. In the 1920s concrete highways were built, and all routes to centres of population in excess of 750 were graveled. During the 1930s hinterland roads were improved through the use of work-relief and conservation funds. Federal allocations initiated in 1956 led to the completion of two interstate highways (north–south and east–west) across the state. Reliable crossings over the Missouri River were restricted mainly to ferries and periods of ice cover until the 1920s, when modern bridge construction began. The number of crossings also increased with the construction of dams on the Missouri River in 1954–66. Since then, the Missouri has not been navigable for commercial purposes upstream from Sioux City, Iowa. The last ferry in South Dakota, at Running Water near Yankton, closed in the mid-1980s.

      Passenger rail traffic has disappeared, but freight train transportation revived in the 1980s through the use of state funds for track improvement. South Dakotans have had air service since World War II, when federal funds were used to build airports. Airlines offer regular service to the largest cities, while private planes operate out of more than 150 public and private airstrips.

Administration and social conditions
      The state constitution was adopted in 1889 and has been amended many times. The governor, lieutenant governor, and most other high-ranking administrative officials are chosen by the electorate, for four-year terms. The legislature comprises the Senate of 35 members and the House of Representatives of 70 members. In 1951 the Legislative Research Council was created to provide continuity between the annual sessions. The congressional delegation includes one U.S. representative and two U.S. senators.

      The judicial system comprises the Supreme Court, consisting of five judges, and the Circuit Court, consisting of 36 judges operating within eight judicial circuits. Supreme Court judges are appointed by the governor; Circuit Court justices are chosen by nonpartisan ballot. In January 1975 the Supreme Court consolidated the system of county and local judicial officers into a unified system of magistrates. Law-trained magistrates are appointed by Circuit and approved by Supreme Court judges; lay magistrates are installed by presiding judges in their respective districts. The machinery for law enforcement includes the state's attorney and sheriff at the county level and the office of attorney general at the state capitol. Special enforcement agencies include a state highway patrol, a force of game wardens, and the tribal police cross-deputized with county sheriffs' departments.

      South Dakota has more than 3,500 units of government below the state level. These units include 66 counties, more than 300 incorporated towns and cities, and more than 1,000 organized township governments. There are also more than 100 special districts, most of them concerned with soil conservation, drainage, and irrigation.

      The state constitution forbids deficit spending. The major sources of income for the state government are a sales tax, revenue from licenses and other fees, and federal aid. Most of the state's expenditures support highways, education, and welfare.

      A primary election is held in June during even-numbered years, followed by general elections in November. Special elections often decide local issues. The Republican has been the dominant party since territorial times.

      Each of the nine Sioux reservation groups lives under an elected tribal government, six of which are authorized by the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934. The Yankton Sioux tribe sustains a constitution adopted in 1932.

      The public school system is administered by local and county boards subject to policies formulated by the Department of Education. Since 1943, legislative appropriations that support public schools have supplemented the general property tax and revenues from the common school lands. School district reorganization was voluntary until 1968, when all districts were compelled to offer a 12-year curriculum. Since then, the number of country schools has diminished considerably, while the number of consolidated high school districts has grown.

      Among the state-supported institutions of higher learning are the University of South Dakota in Vermillion (opened in 1882); South Dakota State University in Brookings (1884); South Dakota School of Mines and Technology in Rapid City (1885); and regional colleges at Spearfish, Aberdeen, and Madison. A system of private liberal-arts colleges has been reduced by funding shortages. Private institutions are Augustana College and Sioux Falls College in Sioux Falls, Dakota Wesleyan University in Mitchell, Mount Marty College at Yankton, and Presentation Junior College at Aberdeen. In addition, there are several vocational schools and Indian community colleges.

Health and welfare services
      The Department of Health is responsible for programs dealing with communicable diseases and sanitation, as well as with the inspection and licensing of hospitals and nursing homes and the collection of vital statistics. South Dakota's health care training and facilities are unusually strong for a rural state because of a tradition in hospital service and nurses' training by the Benedictine and Presentation orders of the Roman Catholic church. In addition, Sioux Valley Hospital in Sioux Falls has evolved into a sophisticated medical complex, while the University of South Dakota Medical School, originally founded as a two-year institution, has been elevated to four-year, degree-granting status. The addition of federal facilities on Indian reservations since 1917 has kept tribal members apace with rural health care standards. Small county, municipal, and private hospitals increasingly have closed as health care has become concentrated in larger, centrally located facilities.

      The welfare needs of the state are the responsibility of the Department of Social Services. More than two-thirds of funds for public assistance are received from federal grants. Institutions maintained by the state include a school for the deaf at Sioux Falls, a centre for the mentally handicapped at Redfield, and a mental hospital at Yankton.

Cultural life
      The early settlers attended musical and dramatic performances by traveling artists in local opera houses and heard national lectures sponsored by lyceum bureaus. Schoolhouses were centres of community social life, and local reading circles and library associations developed into modern libraries. Libraries are maintained by numerous state and private institutions, including the library of the South Dakota State Historical Society in Pierre. A traveling library system, operated under the Free Library Commission, was established in 1913.

      Many native writers have dealt with the South Dakota scene, including Hamlin Garland and Norwegian-born Ole Edvart Rölvaag, who spent his early immigrant life near Sioux Falls, the locale portrayed in his Giants in the Earth (1927). Charles Eastman and Elaine Goodale Eastman preserved 19th-century Indian ways in several volumes. The South Dakota Review, a literary quarterly published by the University of South Dakota since 1963, affords an outlet for regional as well as local talent.

      In the graphic arts two native-born artists, Harvey Dunn and Oscar Howe, gained wide recognition. Harvey Dunn, reared on a pioneer Dakota homestead and one of the nation's leading illustrators, became well known for his paintings of pioneer life. Oscar Howe, a Yanktonai Sioux, has made use of the motifs and symbolism of his Indian heritage. Gutzon Borglum's stone carvings of four U.S. presidents on Mount Rushmore in the Black Hills are a major tourist attraction. Traditional Indian crafts such as beadwork have undergone a revival.

      Among the numerous museums in South Dakota, several stand out for their extraordinary collections and exhibits. The State Historical Society controls the Robinson Museum (Pierre), W.H. Over Museum (Vermillion), Agricultural Heritage Museum (Brookings), and Smith-Zimmerman State Museum (Madison). The University of South Dakota supports the Shrine to Music Museum at Vermillion, and South Dakota State University has the South Dakota Memorial Art Center in Brookings. The large South Dakota State Archaeological Research Center is located in Rapid City, and the Prehistoric Indian Village with its Boehnen Memorial Museum, is under management by the city of Mitchell.

      The dramatic arts manifest their appeal at community and summer theatres and the departments of dramatic art on college and university campuses. Notable among the summer theatres is the Black Hills Playhouse, which has operated in Custer State Park since 1946. More spectacular is the Black Hills Passion Play, which has been presented during the summer at Spearfish since 1939. The musical arts are represented by a number of symphony orchestras. Ethnic festivals include Nordland Fest, Czech Days, and numerous Indian powwows.

      Among recreational areas are Custer and Bear Butte state parks, Black Hills National Forest, and Wind Cave National Park.


Settlement and gold rush
      A lead plate, discovered at Fort Pierre in 1913, records the presence of French explorers during 1742–43. Twenty years later Spain acquired sovereignty over the region, and in 1800 it reverted to France. The territory's inclusion in the Louisiana Purchase led to U.S. ownership in 1803. Trappers and fur traders were the principal European residents of the area until the mid-1850s, when land speculators appeared and the U.S. Army built Fort Randall on the Missouri River. Permanent settlements at Vermillion and Yankton sprang up in 1859. The Dakota Territory was created in 1861, but for several years settlement was confined to the southeast between the Big Sioux and Missouri rivers.

      Wars between the Indians and white immigrants went on intermittently from the Grattan Affair in Nebraska in 1854 to the massacre at Wounded Knee, near Pine Ridge, in 1890. Fairly peaceful relations during the fur trade era thus had changed to cultural separation, out of fear if not hatred, from which Indian and white South Dakotans have never fully recovered.

      The search for gold (gold rush) in the Black Hills in the early 1870s attracted non-Indians to the western part of Dakota Territory, despite the recognition of Indian ownership by federal treaties. In 1877 the Indians were forced by Congress to accept a reduction of their reservation and to cede the Black Hills. Rapid City emerged as the main gateway city to the region. Freight and stage lines connected the mining population with the East until railroads entered west-river provinces early in the 20th century.

Statehood and homesteading
      The gold rush was followed by a flood of settlers into the east-river region, swelling its population from about 80,000 to 325,000 between 1878 and 1887. This rapid expansion led to calls for division of the territory at the 46th parallel and separate statehood for the southern half. In the north and in Congress a single state was favoured. The southern section held constitutional conventions in 1883 and 1885; at the latter the state of Dakota was established. Dual statehood based on a division below the 46th parallel received congressional approval in 1889, and both North and South Dakota were admitted to the Union simultaneously.

      The Great Sioux Agreement of 1889 established six reservations for Teton and Yanktonai Sioux and opened more than 9,000,000 acres to white entry. The general complexion of life in South Dakota has not changed appreciably since 1920, when the majority of residents were positioned in enclaves on farms, ranches, small urban centres, and Indian reservations. Adverse climatic and economic conditions have caused some rural-to-urban migration among non-Indians, while limited reservation resources have forced some Indians to leave the reservations. Education, health care, social services, transportation, and tourist industries all have improved. Yet population size has remained fairly static and ethnic diversity has survived.

Conservatism and progressivism
      South Dakota's political history is similar to that of its neighbouring states. During the 1890s the appeal of the Populist movement led it temporarily and briefly away from the Republican Party. A four-year fusion administration, however, produced only the nation's first initiative and referendum law. At the turn of the 20th century the state was influenced by the wave of progressivism. An insurgent, progressive wing dominated the Republican Party in 1906 and enacted legislation that called for direct primary elections and railroad regulation. From 1917 to 1919 the state adopted a still more radical program, which established a rural credits plan, a system of state hail insurance, a state coal mine, and a cement plant. Of these state-operated enterprises, only the cement plant at Rapid City remains in operation. Since the 1920s the voters have shown a more conservative bent. A major exception to this conservatism has been the state's support of liberal to moderate candidates for Congress, who have been successful in competing for federal benefits. A noteworthy example was liberal Democrat George McGovern (McGovern, George S), who was the only Democrat elected to Congress from South Dakota between 1936 and 1970. McGovern, however, failed to carry South Dakota in his bid for the presidency in 1972.

      The occupation of the village of Wounded Knee by members of the American Indian Movement in 1973 was an expression of the desire for attention to the needs of Indian peoples. It also proclaimed the survival of tribalism, with emphasis on Indian self-determination. The subsequent siege by federal marshals lasted for more than two months, until the Indians were promised that their grievances would be negotiated.

      In general, white South Dakotans have been scarcely less dependent on federal support than have the Indians, whose lives have been governed by national policies for reservation Indians. Adversities of climate and economy have shaped a way of life in South Dakota that shows few signs of losing its diverse character.

Herbert S. Schell Herbert T. Hoover

Additional Reading
Overviews of the land and people include Federal Writers' Project, A South Dakota Guide (1938), also available in an updated version, South Dakota: A Guide to the State, 2nd ed., rev. by M. Lisle Reese (1952, reprinted 1976), still useful; J. Leonard Jannewein and Jane Boorman (eds.), Dakota Panorama, 3rd ed. (1973); and Francie M. Berg, South Dakota: Land of Shining Gold (1982). DeLorme Mapping Company, South Dakota Atlas & Gazetteer (1997), focuses on the state's topography. Virginia Driving Hawk Sneve (ed.), South Dakota Geographic Names (1973), is the standard handbook on place-names.Mary Keepers Helgevold, A History of South Dakota Archaeology (1981), summarizes prehistoric features. South Dakota's modern history is recounted in Herbert T. Hoover and Larry Zimmerman (eds.), South Dakota Leaders: From Pierre Chouteau, Jr., to Oscar Howe (1989), the best interpretative historical volume, covering the lives of 51 state leaders; John Milton, South Dakota: A Bicentennial History (1977, reissued 1988); Herbert S. Schell, History of South Dakota, 3rd ed., rev. (1975); Howard Robert Lamar, Dakota Territory, 1861–1889: A Study of Frontier Politics (1956, reissued 1966); and Watson Parker, Gold in the Black Hills (1966, reprinted 1982). Annotated lists of sources on state history include Jack W. Marken and Herbert T. Hoover, Bibliography of the Sioux (1980), which treats the non-Indian history of the state as well; and Sue Laubersheimer (ed.), South Dakota: Changing, Changeless, 1889–1989 (1985).Herbert T. Hoover Ed.

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Universalium. 2010.

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