So, What Is ‘Siouxland’ Anyway

What’s in a name?

Plenty, when it comes to geographic marketing names. At least that’s the case with the name, Siouxland.

So just what is Siouxland anyhow?

It depends on who you ask, really. I mean if you ask the advertising manager at one of the local Sioux City television stations like KTIV-TV they would say it equals their station’s coverage area. Or even something more grand sounding. Their website crows that they “. . . are Siouxland’s News Channel. Our mission is to provide you with the latest in news, weather, and sports in Siouxland.”

KCAU-TV, the local ABC affiliate, incorporates the word in their web address announcing they are “Siouxland Proud”. This station somehow expands the territory of Siouxland eastward into central Iowa with a breaking news story tonight regarding the snow we’ve been having today. “The snow that caused a few headaches across Siouxland Monday morning has turned deadly.” They go on to describe a multi-car crash that occurred on I-35 near Ames. Hmmm. The distance from Sioux City to Ames is 180 miles. I’m pretty sure KCAU’s signal doesn’t come close to reaching Ames, making it quite a stretch to include it within the boundaries of Siouxland. I guess though, Siouxland may be wherever you want it to be.

Our local CBS affiliate, KMEG-TV, is a bit more specific saying they “. . . are the news source for Northwest Iowa, Northeast Nebraska, and Southeast South Dakota.” Then the station jumps into the marketing fray by saying their meteorologist is “Siouxland’s Chief Meteorologist Chad Sandwell.” They also use Siouxland in part of their web address, too.

Many people then think that the name Siouxland only refers to Sioux City. And one would be correct in thinking the name Siouxland is a popular name for businesses and organizations in Sioux City and nearby communities. In the January, 2018 edition of the Century Link Sioux City phone book, I counted 92 entities that used Siouxland in their name. This also included versions of the name like Soo Land, Sooland and Sioux Land. But the name also gets used in Sioux Falls as well. Take for instance the Siouxland Public Library, the Siouxland Heritage Museum, Siouxland Oral Maxillofacial Surgery Associates, Siouxland Forklift and the Siouxland Renaissance Festival in that city.

Still, some in Sioux Falls did not care for the fact that so many people in that community thought Siouxland referred to Sioux City. This bothered them so much that they came up with their own moniker for that city and the area near it. They called themselves the Sioux Empire. Nowadays there’s the Sioux Empire Fair, which has been trumpeted as “The Biggest Show in the Sioux Empire”. There’s also the Sioux Empire Farm Show, credit union, Boys and Girls Club, and various other associations and businesses with some version of Sioux Empire or Empire in their name.

But those who think Siouxland refers to only Sioux City would be wrong. In fact, the term wasn’t created to be a marketing tactic or definition of a school athletic region. The term was coined by writer Frederick Manfred in 1946 in his third novel, This Is The Year. Manfred was born and raised in the region near the intersection of Iowa, Minnesota and South Dakota and wanted to incorporate the area into his writing. He defined “this area where state lines are not important,” where the people there are connected by mutual interests, a common identity and a shared history. Manfred created in his books a fictional region which John Calvin Rezmerski noted in the Frederick Manfred Reader (1996) was “a kind of alternate world in which there is a town called Bonnie where our world has a town named Doon, in which Savage has been replaced by Brokenhoe and Luverne is named Whitebone, and in which nevertheless, Sioux Falls is still Sioux Falls and Minneapolis and St. Paul are still the Twin Cities . . .“ (p. xv)


Map of Siouxland from endpapers of This Is The Year (1947). Reprinted with permission.


Siouxland is the region in which most of his work is set. This includes Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska and South Dakota “. . . and especially where those states meet near the confluence of the Big Sioux and Missouri Rivers.” (Rezmerski, p. xvii). Of course, the exact confluence of the Big Sioux and Missouri Rivers is at Sioux City, but Manfred is said to have included the area between and including Sioux City and Sioux Falls. The entry for Siouxland in Wikipedia states the region encompasses the drainage basin of the Big Sioux River. This drainage basin stretches from south of Sioux City, IA through Sioux Falls and up to Watertown, SD. It includes the southeast corner of South Dakota, northeast corner of Nebraska, northwest corner of Iowa and the southwest corner of Minnesota.

So, if we go with Manfred’s description of Siouxland, then we will have to say that the Sioux Empire is a part of Siouxland. So there!

Where does that leave me and my blog, Encountering Siouxland? Well, I generally consider Siouxland the way Frederick Manfred laid it out. Of course, I will likely end up focusing mostly on the lower drainage basin of the Big Sioux River and part of the Missouri River basin from Yankton to Tekamah, Neb. I may include photos and stories from as far west as Norfolk, Neb. and as far east as Storm Lake and Sac City, IA. But mostly you’ll find me concentrating a little bit more on the three-state area near Sioux City. The photos in the slide show at the bottom of the page were taken at various locations in Siouxland.

I’m sorry if this posting confuses you a bit. Sort of. You should at least be happy that you found out where the term Siouxland came from and that a Sioux City television station has Siouxland’s Chief Meteorologist working for them.


What are some of the regional names you’ve come across in your travels or where you’ve lived?

Are they used for marketing by the businesses in those areas?



John Calvin Rezmerski (Ed.). The Frederick Manfred Reader. Duluth, MN: Holy Cow! Press, 1996

Manfred, Frederick [as Feike Feikema]. This Is the Year. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1947

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3 thoughts on “So, What Is ‘Siouxland’ Anyway

    1. Absolutely Judy! The Prairie Coteau of which you speak is the largest remaining tract of native northern tallgrass prairie in the U.S. It covers eastern South Dakota and southwestern Minnesota in a landform in the shape of a giant wedge with the tip hanging just over the North Dakota border a couple of miles. There’s a place called the Coteau des Prairies Lodge about 2 1/2 miles over the North Dakota/South Dakota border, northwest of Veblen that brags that it has the best view of the Coteau anywhere (but I doubt it). Anyway, it’s right on the northern lip of the Coteau where the northern edge drops 200 feet to the North Dakota prairie. The Coteau bends slightly east as it moves south, broadening to a wide base past the confluence of the Big Sioux and Missouri Rivers. Up on this plateau are the pretty pothole lakes of northeastern South Dakota and the pink quartzite granite outcroppings and quarries found around Pipestone, Jasper, Dell Rapids and Sioux Falls. Interestingly, the Prairie Coteau includes most, if not all, of Manfred’s Siouxland.

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