Good Earth State Park’s New Visitor Center Educating on Tribal History

Sioux Falls, S.D. – Two years ago, Good Earth State Park in Sioux Falls opened up to the public.  Today marked another milestone; A ribbon-cutting ceremony for its new visitor center. Governor Daugaard and Mayor Huether joined around 300 people to celebrate the opening.  Preservation of the land.  It’s what lot of us strive for, but for many that can mean different things.

Calvin Harlan with the Omaha Tribe of Nebraska said, “For tribes, as an identity, as a culture, we need to have preservation protections of our histories and this is one of our big histories here.”

Organizers said Good Earth State Park and the new Visitor Center is a step toward achieving that goal.  The Regional Supervisor of the South Dakota game, fish, and parks department,  Jeff Van Meeteren said it’s important to educate people of the culture and history of the park.  Without the knowledge and input of local tribal representatives, he said telling their stories wouldn’t be possible.

“To some degree we kind of learned together, but we learned a tremendous amount from them as well as to their history, their culture, why things were the way they were,” said Van Meeteren.

The area was once a key trading center for tribes from 1300 to 1700 AD.  Now, it’s a place to tell their stories, but Harlan said it didn’t come easy.  He said it was the input from all walks of life that helped them come this far.

“These are things that not only the native people, but the non-native people can come, especially in this area, to see what’s actually on a part of their land.”

The new Visitor Center features the tribal history of the area, a cultural exhibit, a classroom for park programs, and a theater to help tell the park’s history.  Van Meeteren said this is just the beginning.

“You know we’re still discovering some of that history today, but this begins to tell that story of what went on here”

The new visitor center is open Monday through Wednesday from 9am-5pm and Thursday to Sunday from 9am to 7pm.


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