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.

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 […]

An equal justice statue sits outside the doors of the Minnehaha County Courthouse in Sioux Falls. (John Hult/South Dakota Searchlight)

Rising caseloads lead to first new magistrate position for Sioux Falls area in 20 years

By: - June 19, 2023

The Second Circuit, serving Minnehaha and Lincoln counties, handles over one-third of the state’s court cases, according to Second Circuit Presiding Judge Robin Houwman. The growth of the Sioux Falls metro area, adding nearly 50,000 residents to Minnehaha and over 40,000 to Lincoln since 2000, has led to a rising caseload — with Houwman expecting […]

The U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. (Seth Tupper/South Dakota Searchlight)

Native Americans cheer Supreme Court’s upholding of Indian Child Welfare Act, push for more action

By: - June 15, 2023

After the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Indian Child Welfare Act in a 7-2 vote released Thursday, Native American advocates in South Dakota applauded the decision and said the state should go further to protect Native children. ICWA is a 1978 federal law giving preference to Native tribes in the case of foster care placement […]

Photo of the Brown County office building, which is connected to the Brown County courthouse and jail.

How SD counties are spending $250 million in COVID relief money

By: - June 14, 2023

The majority of $250 million in COVID relief money South Dakota counties received from the state and federal government during the pandemic has been spent or obligated to replace payroll for county employees or stashed into county general funds, according to tracking documents from the state and federal government. Members of the South Dakota Legislature […]

(Daria Nipot/Getty Images)

Legislative committee approves changes to child care licensing rules

By: - June 13, 2023

The Legislative Rules Review Committee approved new rules Tuesday for child care licensing from the Department of Social Services meant to address a severe child care shortage in the state. The new rules cut training hours for child care center providers in half and allow providers to care for more children at once than laid […]

A summer night in Deadwood. (Photo by Travel South Dakota)

Sioux Falls man loses insurance and gaming licenses after alleged $1.5 million fraud

By: - June 13, 2023

A Sioux Falls man who lost his insurance license for an alleged $1.5 million fraud that affected more than 600 South Dakota student athletes has also lost his gaming license.  At its Tuesday meeting in Deadwood, the South Dakota Commission on Gaming revoked Gary Aaron King’s personal gaming license. King was a member of multiple […]

A farmhand preps dairy cow udders for milking inside the parlor building at Boadwine Farms in Baltic. (Makenzie Huber/South Dakota Searchlight)

Lack of action on immigration is ‘holding SD back,’ dairy farmers say

By: - June 9, 2023

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story on dairy farmers is the second of two examining the challenges some South Dakota businesses face as they attempt to hire international workers. The first story examined problems in the tourism industry. — The Department of Homeland Security wanted to do a routine work authorization audit of the Turner County Dairy […]

H2-B worker Francisco (whose last name has been withheld by request) and Janet Boyer pull a couple of tap beers at Mt. Rushmore Brewing Company ahead of the tourist season in Custer. (Paul Horsted/for South Dakota Searchlight)

Volatile, costly international visa program strains SD’s tourism industry

By: - June 8, 2023

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the first of two stories examining the challenges some South Dakota businesses face as they attempt to hire international workers. The second story examines challenges in the agricultural industry. — Janet Boyer estimates she spent over $40,000 arranging housing for international workers and transporting them to the Black Hills before she […]

A voter fills out a ballot on Nov. 8, 2022, at a polling place in Sioux Falls. (Joshua Haiar/SD Searchlight)

SD election roundup: Rapid City’s new mayor, Mitchell’s new athletic facilities, wastewater nuisance vote

By: - June 7, 2023

South Dakotans across the state cast ballots in local government elections Tuesday, making decisions that will decide the trajectory of their cities and schools in years to come. Elections included Rapid City’s mayoral race — where South Dakota’s second largest city will be led by a new mayor for the first time in eight years […]

The Palmer Gulch Fire burns in October 2022 in the Black Hills. (Courtesy of Black Hills National Forest)

How climate change threatens South Dakota’s protected landscapes

By: - May 30, 2023

Swaths of South Dakota water, grasslands and forests are under federal protection, but climate change recognizes no boundaries.  Scientists say South Dakota’s protected lands are vulnerable to pest infestation, wildfire, drought, flooding and more extreme weather in the decades to come. That ranges from a wild stretch of the Missouri River to grasslands in central […]

Gov. Kristi Noem speaks at the Calvin Coolidge Foundation conference at the Library of Congress on Feb. 17, 2023, in Washington, D.C. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

Noem criticizes universities, issues series of ‘challenges’

By: - May 25, 2023

Gov. Kristi Noem challenged the South Dakota Board of Regents in a letter Thursday to “improve higher education” in the state through a range of suggestions. Noem said she wants to bolster free speech, ban drag shows and the use of preferred pronouns on campuses, root out Chinese influence, require U.S. history and government classes, […]

A portion of the Wharf Mine near Lead in 2019. (Seth Tupper/South Dakota Searchlight)

State board considering expansion of Black Hills gold mine

By: - May 19, 2023

A state board won’t make a final decision on the proposed expansion of South Dakota’s lone large-scale gold mine for another two months, after the board listened to two days of testimony during a hearing this week in Pierre. The expansion of the Coeur Wharf Resources mine, just north of Terry Peak and west of […]