- Associated Press - Monday, May 22, 2017

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) - South Dakota welcomed Native Americans from around the region for the opening of Good Earth State Park.

Tribal members from around the Plains gathered in Sioux Falls on Friday for the park’s dedication ceremony, which was hosted by the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks department, the Daily Republic reported (http://bit.ly/2rtg9nq ).

Calvin Harlan, cultural preservation officer for the Omaha tribe in Nebraska, said Good Earth is the name of where his people hope to go when they die.

“We go home to that Good Earth, and this is Good Earth today,” Harlan said at the ceremony.

Lance Foster, tribal historic preservation officer for the Iowa tribe of Kansas and Nebraska, said visiting the park was like coming home.

“We know Good Earth is a place of peace, and you get the feeling of peace when you come home like that,” Foster said.

The park is located about four miles southeast of Sioux Falls and encompasses 800 acres in South Dakota and 200 acres in Iowa.

The area was once inhabited by members of the Omaha, Ponca, Ioway and Otoe tribes, said Jeff Scherschligt of the South Dakota Parks and Wildlife Foundation Board of Directors. The area was a trade center and at one time housed as many as 10,000 tribes.

South Dakota and Iowa officials had more than four decades of discussions before developing a public-private partnership with landowners to create the park, Scherschligt said.

South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard said one of the private ownerships is Spring Creek Golf Course, which will continue operations for eight years before being incorporated into the park.

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This story has been corrected to reflect that Good Earth is a state park, not a national park.

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Information from: The Daily Republic, http://www.mitchellrepublic.com

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