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Jedediah Smith, Missionary Explorer


PIERRE, S.D. - Jedediah Smith first ventured into Dakota Territory in the early 1800s. He gained fame as a frontiersman and explorer, and may be acknowledged with mapping out and discovering much of western Dakota Territory. 

Jedediah is widely regarded as the first white man to venture through the Black Hills and further westward. His explorations were significant in opening the American West to expansion by white settlers.

Smith considered the missionary his primary objective and his explorations were only of secondary importance to him. Those who knew him referred to him as a man whose integrity and faith surpassed his experience and skill as a mountain man and explorer. He was an example of piety for the rough men with whom he dealt and dwelt.

There is a historical marker, off of US Hwy 12 by the Missouri River bridge near Mobridge that pays tribute to Smiths’ accomplishments, spirit and contribution to the exploration of South Dakota’s wilderness.

The Marks of History series is a project of the South Dakota Office of Tourism designed to highlight historical markers all across South Dakota. Click on the special “Marks of History” link at to access the complete list of articles.

The Marks of History series is part of Goal 1 of the 2010 Initiative to double visitor spending in South Dakota from 2003-2010 and Goal 4 to enhance history and arts as a tool for economic development and cultural tourism in South Dakota. The Office of Tourism serves under the direction of Richard Benda, Secretary of the Department of Tourism and State Development.


Media Notes: 
Information for this release was obtained from “Brevet’s South Dakota Historical Markers”.
The South Dakota Office of Tourism is not responsible for the text included on these markers. Some of the language used at the time of production may not be appropriate by today’s standards. Please view the markers at your own discretion.