The Iowa Tribe of Kansas and Nebraska is creating the largest tribal national park in the US on a forested bluff overlooking the Missouri River, protecting the land for future generations of tribal members and preserving the stories and heritage of its people.
The new Ioway Tribal National Park will overlook a historic trading village where the Ioway people bartered for buffalo hides and pipestones with other tribes during the 13th to 15th centuries.
The 444-acre park will allow the tribe to tell the story of the Ioway people and provide a rustic getaway where people can hike, camp and bird-watch.
Lance Foster, the Vice Chairman of the Iowa Tribe, told AP News: “We’ve been here for a thousand years now and, unlike other people who can buy and sell land and move away, we can never move away. This is our land forever. And we’ll be here for another 1,000 years.”
The Nature Conservancy of Nebraska recently transferred 284 acres to the tribe, which plans to use the land and an adjacent 160 acres that the conservancy donated two years ago to establish the second such tribal national park in the country. It is located just southeast of Rulo, Nebraska, on the Nebraska-Kansas border.
Acquiring the land also fits with the tribe’s goal of restoring tribally owned lands on its reservation, which once spanned 12,000 acres on both sides of the Nebraska-Kansas border. An 1887 federal “allotment” act that subdivided the reservation to individual families resulted in the selling off of 90% of the land to local farmers.
The tribe, headquartered in White Cloud, Kansas, has now bought back about one-third of its original reservation.
The new park, which will sit on the Kansas and Nebraska border, is the second tribal national park to be created in the US, and the largest, following the creation of Frog Bay National Park in Wisconsin in 2011.
Image Credit: Ioway Tribal National Park Facebook Group
Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She writes about lifestyle including sustainable and green living. She also offers content services to businesses and individuals at Rosamedea.com