Spirit Mound Trust receives heritage award The Spirit Mound Trust was given the 2002 Heritage Award by the Lewis & Clark Heritage Trail Foundation at its annual meeting in Louisville, KY, July 31. The foundation is a national organization dedicated to disseminating the story of the expedition and preserving sites along the trail. The annual award is given in recognition of significant contributions to the preservation of important Lewis & Clark sites. District 17 State Rep. Judy Clark from Vermillion submitted the nomination.
On Aug. 24, 1804, Lewis & Clark and 11 of their men separated from the main party traveling up the Missouri and explored Spirit Mound because of rumors the hill was occupied by little people that killed any humans who came near. They noted the beautiful landscape and saw their first herds of buffalo from the top of Spirit Mound. It is one of the very few specific spots where the expedition members are known to have stood.
The trust has worked for 16 years to preserve and recognize the site. The goal began to be realized last year when state and federal resources were used to buy the site, clear it, and begin planting the seeds of native prairie species. The intent is to restore the mound to a tallgrass prairie resembling as closely as possible what explorers saw in 1804.
It will be owned and cared for by the South Dakota Parks and Recreation Division as the Spirit Mound Historic Prairie. Beginning later this summer a parking lot and interpretive signage will be developed in the southeastern corner of the site along Highway 19 six miles north of Vermillion. A walking trail will lead from there to the summit.