One of the most significant places of beauty and history in our state is located along the Big Sioux River in the northwest corner of Iowa. The nearly 3,000 acre site straddles the river in both Iowa and South Dakota. Its significance comes, not simply from its pastoral beauty, but because it is the ancestral home of the Ioway, Omaha, Oto and the Ponca Indian tribes.
Specifically the area is located about five miles east of the intersection of the three States of South Dakota, Minnesota and Iowa near the newly constructed Grand Falls Casino and Resort. It is about half way between Sioux Falls, S.D. and Larchwood, IA just to the south of Highway 9. In fact, it is adjacent to the little community of Granite.
Although a majority of the site remains privately owned it is recognized not only by its national landmark designation but has been evaluated by the National Park Service as an area qualified for inclusion in the National Park System.
For the descendants of the Ioway, Omaha, Oto and Ponca tribes, this is a place of reverence, spiritual value, memories to celebrate the heritage of these great nations and a place where their ancestors have been laid to rest
Over the years the area has had and continues to experience a number of land use changes and intrusions such as: housing development along the bluff lines, on-going farm operations and gravel quarrying. However, during the past three decades interest in the site has grown. South Dakota has begun acquiring land for what is known as Good Earth State Park. Plans are being completed for the initial development of that area west of the Big Sioux River and are proceeding swiftly.
Because of Governor Branstad’s insight into this area and his friendship with Governor Dugaard of South Dakota, the project may result in being the first joint state park in the nation. With the Governor’s leadership, a $2 million dollar appropriation to the DNR for the project was made during the 2014 legislative session.
Through the Iowa DNR State Parks Bureau, Iowa has initiated a master planning contract for the project on the Iowa side of the river to be completed within a year.
Additionally, and with the generosity of the Grand Falls Casino and Resort, an interpretive center will be developed in the facility in the space formerly used as a gift shop. The Iowa State Parks agency has approved a contract for the design and fabrication of the exhibit to Split Rock Studios. That project is underway and is scheduled for completion in July, 2015.
Yours truly and retired (but active) archaeologist Dale Henning have produced a summary of the history and significance of the site – as a newly published booklet – “Blood Run the Silent City”. With the support of Jim Slife with Pioneer Communications, Inc. (publisher of the Iowan magazine) it has turned into a high quality publication. It can be obtained through the KIB Web page (www.keepiowabeautiful.com) or by visiting
There is a great deal of “noise’ going on with this “Silent City” – a place of significant national heritage.
Gerald F. Schnepf, Executive Director
Keep Iowa Beautiful
300 East Locust – Suite 100
Des Moines, IA 50309
Web Page: www.keepiowabeautiful.com