Blood Run site could be open by appointment this summerSIOUX FALLS — State Parks and Recreation Director Doug Hofer has a spring in his step as he hikes the potential trails meandering through Blood Run, a national historic landmark set to become South Dakota’s first new state park in more than 50 years.
By: DIRK LAMMERS, The Associated Press
SIOUX FALLS — State Parks and Recreation Director Doug Hofer has a spring in his step as he hikes the potential trails meandering through Blood Run, a national historic landmark set to become South Dakota’s first new state park in more than 50 years.
The picturesque acreage along the Big Sioux River was used by thousands of Oneota Indians into the early 1700s, and its diverse landscape boasts a large oak forest, rolling hills, flood plains and riverside bluffs. The site also has a story to tell, holding historically rich burial mounds, refuse pits and artifacts.
“The topography and the natural resources working together just give you some fantastic panoramic views, and you have both natural resources and historic resources in one site,” Hofer said. “That is going to make it a great story, a great place to preserve and a great place to visit.”
Although the entire Blood Run site could eventually encompass some 1,400 acres in South Dakota and Iowa, the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Department recently partnered with two nonprofits to buy a 324-acre parcel from a private landowner that Hofer calls “the key” to creating a state park.
Officials won’t seek state park status until the Legislature convenes in January, but Hofer tells the Associated Press that people should be able to visit the land this summer through guided tours by appointment.
“The first step in that is going to be having a veteran interpreter-historian living on site this summer to help tell that story,” he said.
The Oneota culture wasn’t a single tribe but conglomerate of groups with similar characteristics taking back to 1200 or earlier, said Rich Fishel, cultural resource archaeologist with the Illinois State Archaeological Survey at the University of Illinois.
The Oneota grew corn and other staples, hunted bison, built circular lodges and stored perishable food underground in bell-shaped storage pits lined with grass and covered with logs or bison hides.
Another common trait among the Oneota is their pottery, which features specific decorative patterns and often depict raptors such as eagles and hawks.
Much of the Oneota’s history, such as where they originated, remains a mystery.
“We have to rely on what archaeology teaches us and also what the Native Americans have passed down in their stories,” Fishel said.
At Blood Run, the prime riverfront location allowed the area to blossom into a trade hub.
Many Oneota groups settled on flood plains along rivers, and the Blood Run site eight miles southeast of Sioux Falls is “probably the largest of the Oneota sites,” Fishel said.