Makenzie Huber

Makenzie Huber

Makenzie Huber is a lifelong South Dakotan whose work has won national and regional awards. She's spent five years as a journalist with experience reporting on workforce, development and business issues within the state.

A May 2023 aerial view of the Wharf Mine near Lead. (Courtesy of EcoFlight)

State board gives blessing to Black Hills gold mine expansion

By: - July 20, 2023

The state Board of Minerals and Environment unanimously endorsed the expansion of the Coeur Wharf Resources mine, just north of Terry Peak and west of Lead, during its Thursday meeting in Pierre. The action is contingent on the later submission of surety bonds and conditions that the mining company address and mitigate a surface water […]

Students at the entrance to the University of South Dakota Knudson School of Law. (Photo courtesy of USD)

Regents prioritize tuition freeze, civics & quantum computing in 2025 budget request

By: - July 19, 2023

The South Dakota Board of Regents will ask Gov. Kristi Noem and the Legislature to freeze public university tuition for a fourth year in a row, the organization decided in a special Zoom meeting Wednesday, in addition to requesting funds for other priorities such as a system-wide center for civic engagement. Noem has been a […]

An educator works with students at Cleveland Elementary School. (Courtesy of Sioux Falls School District)

International hires & ‘grow your own’ programs: Schools seek solutions to teacher shortage

By: - July 14, 2023

Oglala Lakota County schools had zero applications for more than 25 open teacher positions earlier this year. Superintendent Connie Kaltenbach said the school district advertised the positions for months locally, across the state and nationally. But there weren’t any bites. So she turned to the international market. Starting this fall, 26 Filipino teachers will likely […]

The busts of U.S. presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln tower over the Black Hills at Mount Rushmore National Memorial on July 2, 2020, near Keystone. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Park Service opposes Johnson’s Mount Rushmore Protection Act, calling it ‘unnecessary’

By: - July 13, 2023

The National Park Service, which manages the preservation and upkeep of Mount Rushmore in the Black Hills, testified in opposition to South Dakota Rep. Dusty Johnson’s “Mount Rushmore Protection Act” on Thursday — not because the agency disagrees with the bill’s intent, but because the agency views the bill as “unnecessary.” NPS Deputy Director for […]

Shirley Murphy joins Native American elders from across South Dakota who traveled to the Prairie Knights Casino on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation to record their memories and the Lakota language for Thunder Valley CDC. (Makenzie Huber/South Dakota Searchlight)

Lakota is critically endangered. Elder retreats preserve, build road maps to revive it.

By: - July 9, 2023

FORT YATES, North Dakota — Dozens of Native American elders from South Dakota tribal nations gathered in the Prairie Knights Casino on the Standing Rock Reservation earlier this month. Sitting at tables armed with pens and composition notebooks, they wrote about memories from their childhoods and shared their stories orally with each other in Lakota […]

(Getty Images)

Statewide high school course trains students to become child care workers

By: - July 7, 2023

There are 12,260 licensed child care slots in Sioux Falls, but 64% of child care centers can’t enroll their licensed capacity because they don’t have enough workers, according to the Sioux Falls Childcare Collaborative. That cuts actual available slots by hundreds — and it’s a familiar situation across the state. The collaborative presented the results […]

Firefighting foam, used at airports and military bases, has been identified as a source of toxic PFAS chemicals. (Photo courtesy of the U.S. Fire Administration)

Federal study detects ‘forever chemicals’ in three SD private wells

By: - July 6, 2023

Rural water systems across the United States are less likely than urban areas to be contaminated with “forever chemicals” that may lead to health problems such as cancer, thyroid disease and high cholesterol, according to a study from the U.S. Geological Survey released Tuesday. But the same study detected those chemicals in rural private wells […]

Participants in a Red Cloud Renewable solar energy training course. (Courtesy of Red Cloud Renewable)

Pine Ridge nonprofit awarded $1.5M grant to train Indigenous women for solar energy jobs

By: - June 28, 2023

Pine Ridge-based solar energy nonprofit Red Cloud Renewable was awarded a $1.5 million federal grant to increase the number of Native American women working in the solar industry. The grant is part of the Biden Administration’s “Investing in America” agenda aimed at achieving a 100% clean electricity grid by 2035 while boosting economic growth across […]

Members of the State-Tribal Relations Committee meet at the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate headquarters in Agency Village on June 26, 2023. (Makenzie Huber/South Dakota Searchlight)

Tribal leaders urge legislators to support reestablishment of Lake Traverse Reservation boundaries

By: - June 26, 2023

AGENCY VILLAGE — The Lake Traverse Reservation, home to the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate, doesn’t appear on official South Dakota state maps. Literally, the oyate (a Dakota word meaning “people” or “nation”) was wiped off the map because of a 1975 U.S. Supreme Court decision. That decision has made tribal members feel erased in the last […]

(Darwin Brandis/iStock Getty Images Plus)

Opioid treatment prescriptions quadruple in SD over 5 years

By: - June 24, 2023

The number of patients prescribed an opioid dependency medication has nearly quadrupled in South Dakota in the last five years, according to data collected by the state’s prescription drug monitoring program. Melissa DeNoon, director of the program, presented the data to the South Dakota Board of Pharmacy at its meeting on Friday. The increase in […]

The South Dakota Board of Regents speaks with legislative leaders during a roundtable discussion June 21, 2023, in Madison. (Courtesy of the SDBOR)

After Noem’s criticism, legislators and regents discuss solutions for higher ed

By: - June 21, 2023

Another tuition freeze is at the top of the South Dakota Board of Regents’ legislative wish list for next year — but that’s at the same time the state expects a return to normal revenue numbers. That emerged Wednesday from a roundtable discussion among the regents and some legislators at Dakota State University in Madison. […]

Dancers fill a powwow space. (South Dakota Department of Tourism)

Native-led tourism alliance launches ‘economic catalyst’ tours on reservations

By: - June 20, 2023

South Dakota has fed off the state’s connection to Native American history and heritage for decades, helping to propel the state’s tourism industry to a reported $7.6 billion economic impact in 2022. The tourism crown jewel of South Dakota, the Black Hills, is a sacred place for the tribes that make up the Great Sioux […]