Agency RSS

New Good Earth Visitor Center Highlights Tribal History, Nature

            Office of Gov. Dennis Daugaard

500 E. Capitol Ave.

Pierre, S.D. 57501

(605) 773-3212






FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  Friday, May 19, 2017

CONTACT:  Tony Venhuizen or Kelsey Pritchard at 605-773-3212


EDITORS/NEWS DIRECTORS:  For audio from the Governor on the Good Earth State Park Visitor Center, visit news.sd.gov/media.aspx and click on “Audio” under “Governor Dennis Daugaard.”


New Good Earth Visitor Center Highlights Tribal History, Nature


SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – Gov. Dennis Daugaard joined 300 guests today to celebrate the completion of the visitor center at Good Earth State Park, located five miles southeast of downtown Sioux Falls. The new visitor center, built to highlight the opportunities in the park as well as the tribal history of the area, includes a culture exhibit, a classroom for park programs and a theater where a 20-minute film on the park’s history is shown.


“Tribal involvement has been essential in the process of accurately telling the story of Good Earth,” said Gov. Daugaard. “I want to thank the tribal officials and elders from several tribes, whose ancestors occupied this site, for contributing their expertise to the project.”


Individuals representing the Omaha, Ponca, Ioway and Otoe tribes were in attendance today to celebrate the completion of the visitor center. Members of those tribes advised the Department of Game, Fish and Parks on the displays and the film.


The history of the park dates back more than 8,000 years. In the 1500s, a group of Native American tribes, now known as the Oneota Culture, established the area as a place of trade. The river, wildlife abundance and availability of pipestone made the area a central hub.


Game, Fish and Parks Secretary Kelly Hepler says the site is dotted with artifacts and lands of archaeological importance, and is the largest, most significant repository of Oneota culture and history in the world.


“It is a place of great beauty and fascinating history,” Secretary Hepler said.


In 2013, the state Legislature appropriated $2 million for the creation of Good Earth State Park. Partnering with GFP, the South Dakota Parks and Wildlife Foundation raised more than $8.5 million for the park development efforts.


“I thank all of the donors who stepped forward with their own resources to help complete the project. We couldn’t have done this without their help,” Gov. Daugaard said.


Future plans for the park include an outdoor amphitheater and the development of programs on nature and the park’s history. 



* A photo of the ribbon cutting is attached. From left to right: Dick Brown (SD Parks and Wildlife Foundation), Jeff Scherschligt (former chair of SDPWF), First Lady Linda Daugaard, Karen Olson (president of SDPWF Board), Larry Wright Jr. (chairman of the Ponca Tribe), Calvin Harlan (Omaha Tribe council member), Dr. Dave Kapaska (chair of SF Chamber), Cathy Petersen (GFP Commission chairwoman), Doug Hofer (former SDGFP director of parks and recreation), Katie Ceroll (current SDGFP director of parks and recreation) and Kelly Hepler (Secretary of SDGFP)