PIERRE, S.D. – Oscar Micheaux, an African American homesteader, filmmaker and novelist, homesteaded near Gregory, S.D., in 1905. He was one of the first African American filmmakers in the United States, and one of the first African American settlers in South Dakota.
Micheaux purchased a 160-acre claim in Gregory County on the Rosebud Indian Reservation, which is where he gained inspiration for his first novel, “The Conquest: The Story of A Pioneer by the Pioneer” (1913). It is also where he shot scenes for his first film, “The Homesteader” (1918).
Micheaux left South Dakota in 1912, only eight years after coming to the state. However, his experiences here inspired him in such a way that South Dakota is present in all of his seven novels and 43 films.
His works have a dedicated following yet today. Each year, residents of Gregory honor him by hosting the Oscar Micheaux Film Festival, held the first week in August.
Additionally, February is Black History Month, a remembrance of the important people and events in the history of African Americans. Oscar Micheaux is an African American man who left his mark on South Dakota, and became one of the state’s “Great Faces.”
South Dakota’s Great Faces weekly press release series is a project of the South Dakota Office of Tourism, designed to highlight those who have had significant impacts on South Dakota, particularly within the visitor industry. Click on the special “South Dakota’s Great Faces” link at www.MediaSD.com to access the complete list of articles.
Information for this release was obtained from the South Dakota Hall of Fame Web site.