OUR VOICE: Lots of positives from our friends in the tribal communities

Farm Forum

Calling it a historical site with cultural and archaeological significance for American Indians, South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard and Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad recently dedicated South Dakota’s first state park in 40 years.

They were joined by tribal dignitaries, state legislators and officials from South Dakota’s Game, Fish and Parks at Good Earth State Park at Blood Run. South Dakota’s 13th state park runs along 2 miles of the Big Sioux River about 12 miles southeast of downtown Sioux Falls.

South Dakota owns about 600 acres of land there, where the park now exists, while Iowa owns several hundred acres. The ultimate goal is to join the land and create the first joint state park in the country. Funding for the park came from both public and private entities. In the future, officials hope to build a visitors’ center and add additional hiking trails.

‘‘This really wouldn’t come together without the support of so many people. It’s very fitting today that we’ve all come together — again different people from different walks of life — just as our Native American ancestors came together from different walks of life, different parts of this country to trade, for commerce, for social, for religious gatherings,’’ Daugaard said.

It is exciting news that so many entities came together to create something so wonderful in our home state. It is a shining example of what powerful steps forward people can take when they work together.

Branstad said he is excited about possibly creating the joint state park. Calvin Harlan, a member of the Omaha tribe, was instrumental in developing the name Good Earth for the park. “This is good earth here,” he said. “Our ancestors are here. Our ancestors made many tracks through here.’’

This was one of many recent good news involving our friends and neighbors from the tribes:

Badlands featured culture: The fifth annual Badlands Heritage Celebration was last weekend at the South Unit of Badlands National Park, located on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

The Oglala Sioux Parks and Recreation Authority operates the White River Visitor Center at the South Unit. They hosted the free event, which featured American Indian songs, exhibits, dances, crafts and a film about Lakota history.

Pine Ridge featured: South Dakota Public Broadcasting aired a one-hour PBS documentary on Pine Ridge last weekend.

The Vision Maker Media TV special, “Bridge the Gap to Pine Ridge” with Chris Bashinelli, featured the host with the Oglala Lakota College women’s basketball team, coached by former Pine Ridge standout Mary Tobacco. Bashinelli also took part in a sacred buffalo harvest and helped an area rancher.

Bashinelli travels the world to experience life outside his hometown of Brooklyn, N.Y. It was special to see this area of our state featured in the national spotlight.

There are always a lot of special, positive things going on in the tribal communities. And you don’t have to look very hard to find them.

— American News editorial board