Part of the Louisiana Purchase, the Dakotas became part of America in 1801. Louis and Clark ventured through these parts on their famous expedition to the Pacific in 1804. But the area was already home to numerous North American tribes. LEWIS & CLARK DID NOT MAKE IT TO SIOUX FALLS.

 

In fact, the first peoples likely arrived some 1000 years prior, and by 500 BC had established a thriving culture, which is apparent today with the massive burial mounts they left in the region. While little is known of these prehistoric peoples, they were the likely ancestors of the later Lakota and Dakota tribes who lived in what is today the area of Sioux Falls. These tribes came into contact with the French fur trappers, but it was Louis and Clark, during their expedition, who noted the waterfalls on the “Soues River,” giving the area its name.

PaleoIndians arrived about 12,000 years before present when tracking mammoths and other giant mammals. People of the Late Woodland Culture arrived about 2000 years before present. They were the first to use the bow and arrow, grow maize (corn), make pottery and build burial mounds, not mounts.

Settlements did not arrive for almost another 50 years however, but with an influx of pioneers heading west the first camp was founded by land speculators, hoping to get rich with prime real estate. Fort Dakota was established in what is the present day downtown in 1865, and while the settlement gradually grew it only became a city in 1883. This followed by a boom that would last for a decade, with the city growing in size many times over. Over the next few decades the town continues to expand, and with the completion of an Interstate Highway system in the 1960s Sioux Falls became a cross roads in South Dakota, making it a true tourist destination with a rich historic past and plenty to do year round.