Johnson will attend Spirit Mound ceremony

Johnson will attend Spirit Mound ceremony U.S. Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD) will attend the ceremony to mark the purchase of Spirit Mound north of Vermillion on Sunday, July 29 at 1 p.m. at Spirit Mound on Highway 19 north of Vermillion.

A public reception will immediately follow at the W.H. Over Museum.

"The purchase of Spirit Mound has been a long process, but I am pleased we will now be able to put forth plans to preserve this historically significant site," Johnson said. "Numerous individuals and organizations throughout South Dakota have worked very hard for this preservation effort, and I am proud to have played a part in this important partnership with the federal government.

"The restoration of Spirit Mound will be a big boost for South Dakota tourism and for our historic preservation efforts," Johnson added. "In addition, this area will play a significant role in the bicentennial anniversary of the Lewis and Clark expedition in 2004, which is expected to draw millions of people through the state as they trace the route of Lewis and Clark."

Johnson secured nearly $600,000 in federal funds nearly two years ago so that the Department of Interior and South Dakota Parks and Recreation could purchase the site. However, final agreement on purchase price was not agreed to until this past spring.

The site will be restored to its original condition when Lewis and Clark visited the area, complete with native grasses and flowers. Contemporary farm structures will be removed and serious erosion of the hillside halted. The South Dakota Department of Transportation dedicated $378,000 for the restoration.

Spirit Mound is located five miles north of Vermillion. The Nakota Sioux who lived in the area believed that Spirit Mound was haunted by little devils approximately 18 to 24 inches tall who shot arrows at anyone passing through the area. Lewis and Clark traveled to Spirit Mound to witness the devils, but never saw them.

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