Blood Run National Historic Landmark

The pitted boulder at Blood Run Iowa

The pitted boulder at Blood Run Iowa

The Blood Run National Historic Landmark is an archaeological site on the border of Iowa and South Dakota in western Lyon County. The site was essentially populated between 1300 and 1720 A.D. Earthworks structures were built by the Oneota tradition people and occupied by descendant tribes such as the Ioway, Otoe, and Omaha/Ponca peoples. Blood Run is the largest Oneota Cultural site discovered to date in the upper Midwest and one of the oldest sites of long-term human habitation in the United States.

The Blood Run archaeological sites in both Iowa and South Dakota were designated a National Historic Landmark in 1970. The Historical Society of Iowa purchased 183 acres in 1987. Blood Run National Historic Landmark.

South Dakota Visitor Visitor Center Blood Run Exhibit


Dotted with artifacts and lands of archaeological importance, the landmark is the largest and most significant repository of Oneota tradition and history in the world. It is also a place of great beauty and serenity as the Big Sioux River and Blood Run Creek wind through the site. Abundant wildlife, fertile flood plains, fresh water springs, old-growth forest and nearby catlinite (pipestone) quarries made the area a prominent sacred ceremonial and trading location for thousands of indigenous peoples from 1300 until 1700. The Native American history at the site dates back more than 8,000 years.

Currently, the states of Iowa and South Dakota are working together on a bi-state park initiative that will promote preservation and education of the site as a whole.


How the Oneota lived shown at the South Dakota Visitor Center

The Oneota People

The Oneota people were gardeners whose horticultural activities included growing corn, beans, squash and a number of plants with edible seeds that we now consider weeds. In addition to garden products, the Oneota ate bison, deer, elk, dogs, smaller mammals, birds, fish and mollusks.   The most intensive occupation was probably during the late 1600s, when as many as 6,000 individuals may at times have been there, living, trading and interacting in social and ceremonial activities. Blood Run is unique among Oneota sites for burial and cache pit mounds.

Blood Run Iowa

The Iowa Blood Run Cultural Landscape Master Plan, completed in July 2016, provides a comprehensive framework for a bi-state, 3,880-acre park that respects, protects and emphasizes unique heritage of the place and strengthens appreciation of the tribal traditions of the past. It includes local history, the current community and natural resources, while fostering understanding and enjoyment through interpretation and compatible recreation. The plan guides the use and management of a complex cultural landscape with ties to the Oneota tradition and five other tribes.

South Dakota Visitor Center

South Dakota Good Earth State Park at Blood Run Visitor Center

Good Earth State Park at Blood Run

Good Earth State Park was designated as South Dakota’s newest State Park in 2013.  Since then, many improvements have been made, including interpretive sites, popular hiking trails and scenic overlooks. Additionally, a world-class Visitor and Interpretive Center opened in May 2017.

Good Earth State Park at Blood Run features more than 650 acres of park with six miles of trails through prairie, woodland and river bottom. Visitors may stop along the way at a picnic shelter or one of three scenic overlook decks along the trail for breathtaking views of Iowa. For information on Good Earth State Park visit

Explore and learn about one of the most significant archaeological sites in the states of Iowa and South Dakota at  – Blood Run – Time, Place, Tradition.