Multimedia Presentations

Featured Videos of the Missouri National Recreational River


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Keeping It Wild 4:22 minute story of the Missouri National Recreational River Narrative Script

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00:12 REBEKAH JESSEN: So the Missouri National Recreational River definitely has a personality of its own. Every piece of the river has beauty in its own way.

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[People cheering]

00:35 RICK CLARK: The Missouri National Recreational River is continually changing. There’s never two days that are exactly alike. It consists of a 30-Mile District and a 59-Mile District managed by the National Park Service. The Missouri National Recreational River is truly a partnership park. The National Park Service works in collaboration with a number of partners and a whole host of cooperators that share one thing in common: a love of the Missouri River. The Missouri National Recreational River gives people an opportunity to just kind of get out and really enjoy what nature has to offer.

01:15 BOY: My favorite part is fishing ‘cause I got almost three bluegills.

01:25 JEFF KRATZ: From fishing in the spring to shooting pheasants along the sandbars and duck hunting, the Missouri River is an important part of our lives as a family.

01:37 DUGAN SMITH: People have been living along the Missouri River for thousands of years. Today, we have three tribes that call this stretch of the Missouri River home: the Santee Sioux Tribe, the Yankton Sioux Tribe, and the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska. And their cultures are still alive and vibrant and flourishing along the Missouri River. These tribes are great partners and stewards of this river.

02:03 LARRY WRIGHT, JR: As a Ponca, the Missouri River is sacred. The life that it gives for our people, gave to our people, continues to give to our people is part of us. And it’s who we are. That’s what we do here today: protect that for our young ones, our next generations. It provides life for all of us. ♫ [ Children singing in Dakota language ] ♫

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02:40 SHANE BERTSCH: The Missouri National Rec River Friends Group which is public, private, and landowner create more access points along the river and create good opportunities for the folks to come and enjoy the river.

02:43 LISA YAGER: We’re on Goat Island today. Managing an island means takikng care of what’s here, knowing what’s here. Killdeer, least terns, piping plovers—all those different species live along the river. All these different partners come together with one shared mission, and we all have that shared passion for the river. That’s pretty inspiring and it gives me a lot of hope for the future of this river.

03:21 SAM STUKEL: We have the endangered pallid sturgeon, and the list goes on and on. We are out there doing research with this fish in the field. These big river species have lost so much worldwide. And right here, on this part of the river, we have what they need. It’s similar to what Lewis and Clark saw when they came through here: sandbars, snags, backwaters, side channels.

03:51 RICK CLARK: We are trying to keep some of that wildness. America’s longest river: 2,341 miles. There’s only this stretch of river, approximately 100 miles, that you can still see it today as it once was.

04:05 SHANE BERTSCH: When I see people along the river having a good time with their family, it really makes me feel good. Getting people outside and enjoying the outdoors—that’s what the river’s all about.

[ Geese honking ]

04:19 RANGER: Look at this tree. GIRL: It’s actually kind of cool.

04:22 RICK CLARK: Collectively we stand a chance to preserve and protect this area as we see it today for many eons to come.

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4 minutes, 45 seconds

Meet the people, places, and wildlife that make and keep the Missouri National Recreational River Wild.


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Find Your Adventure 1:31 minute animated short of the Junior Ranger Club Narrative Script

♫ [ Music plays ] ♫

KID: The Junior Ranger Club is really, really fun. You could explore the river. You find cool tracks.

KID #2: My favorite part is fishing ‘cause I got almost like three bluegills. But now I got a catfish. It was like really huge! It was like a 40-inch. And then I got 100! And 140! I put them back in. My dad thought of that.

KID #3: I really enjoyed kayaking because I got to get out on the river and almost be a part of the river.

KID #4: And what we got to see was a blue heron, which was the best part. It was amazing!

KID #3: We’ll camp almost right along the shoreline. We just kind of explored the beach a little bit.

KID #5: While we were walking, I just saw this leaf. But then I saw something move! And then I’m just like, “Oh, wait, that’s a frog!” It felt disgusting at first by the bumpiness and slimy and rough texture of it. And then everyone just started surrounding me. I’m just like, “You guys wanna hold it?”

KID #3: To me the Missouri River is very special. When I grow up, I kinda want to just be around the Missouri River.

KID #6: The Missouri National Recreational River is special. Enjoy it. Care for it. Now and in the future.

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1 minute, 47 seconds

Animated short film of youth in the outdoors exploring the Missouri National Recreational River. This feature received a Gold Remi Award at WorldFest - Houston International Film Festival in 2019.


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Water of Life 5-minute story on the Tribes of the Missouri River Narrative Script

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DUGAN SMITH: People have been living along the Missouri River for thousands of years. Their cultures are vibrant along the Missouri River. Today we have three tribes that call this stretch of the Missouri River home: the Santee Sioux Tribe, the Yankton Sioux Tribe, and the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska. They’re tied to this river through their ceremonies and culture.

LARRY WRIGHT, JR: Where the Niobrara River and the Missouri River meet is our homeland. It’s where our people put our earth lodges – our permanent homes.

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LARRY WRIGHT, SR: The rivers are the life-givers. We were farmers, so we needed the water for our crops, and that’s why we settled close to the water.

LARRY WRIGHT, JR: As a Ponca, the Missouri River is sacred. DWIGHT HOWE: Ni ALL: Ni

DWIGHT HOWE: Ni is water. So we’ll say that. Ni – water. ALL: Ni

DWIGHT HOWE: How do you say smoky water? ALL: Nishudeh

DWIGHT HOWE: There you go! Nishudeh – Missouri River.

LARRY WRIGHT, JR: The Missouri River is part of our DNA. It’s who we are. I get the same goosebumps today that I did, you know, over 20 years ago when I first came back up here.

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DUANE WHIPPLE: The Santee, we were moved here from Minnesota. That’s when they relocated us down here to Santee, Nebraska, along the Missouri River. A lot of people don’t understand that water is life for us. We took on our fishing skills like we did over in Minnesota. And we were harvesting the plants: the Indian potatoes and the wild turnips, mulberries – we call them buffalo berries – and chokecherries in the area. We’re becoming a more self-reliant people. We have our own businesses now. To be self-supportive is our main goal and to make sure our children have a bright future.

♫ [ Children singing in Dakota language ] ♫

ROBERT FLYING HAWK: As we take a drink of that water, it helps our body to become strong, as it helps the tatonkha – the buffalo – to be strong. WOMAN: One, two, three! ALL: Tatonkha

ROBERT FLYING HAWK: The people of the Ihanktonwan Nation are here, and will always be here.

♫ ♫ ♫ We started here along the river. Water and the buffalo and us as a people living here – we’re all connected and related. We say mani wichone – water of life – and our sustenance is from there.

KIP SPOTTED EAGLE: The river itself is a sacred site. There’s a lot of medicinal plants and fruits throughout these river breaks and along the river. Our connection to the river is not just the water, but it’s also everything that comes with it. FAITH SPOTTED EAGLE: I was born into defending the water. We believe that there is a spirit in the river. So when we do a ceremony or we have a camp along the river, then we make a gift to the river. And then the river brings us gifts. RAELEE MARTINEZ: Our people used the river for everything. They use it for, like, a source of water. They use it to, like, cook with, to find food, because there’s fish. To basically survive off of. Even to, like, bathe and stuff. Clean clothes. Our elders teach us to take care of our river – keep it going – the nice Missouri River that it is. That’s what I’m hoping for.

FAITH SPOTTED EAGLE: We have stories, we have burials, we have ceremonial sites. And so people who are non-native, when they come here, they can be nice to the river, and they can be nice to the land, and they could even be nice to use. LARRY WRIGHT, JR: We all depend on the Missouri River and what we do today affects the next generation. It’s all of our jobs to make sure that we’re doing what we can to help take care of her like she’s taken care of us.

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5 minutes, 1 second

The American Indian story of the Missouri National Recreational River.


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Currents of Change 3:30 minute story on the geology of the Missouri National Recreational River Narrative Script

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Tim Cowman: River definitely has a personality to me. One things that you really notice about it when you’re on it is that there’s just this constant flow of water and things are constantly changing. The geology of Missouri river is very interesting. I’m standing here on the South Dakota side of the river and I look across the river to Nebraska what I see are these huge bluffs outcropping. And what these bluffs are is is they are the actual segments that were deposited at the bottom of a sea millions of years ago. Buried in those sediments are fossils of that time. Marine reptiles such as mosasaurs and plesiosaurs show us just what life was like.

The western interior seaway was here until about sixty-five million years ago. Over time, things changed. The sea dried up. And what we now known as the Missouri river actually used to drain northeastward roared into the Hudson Bay area of Canada.

Starting about two million years ago, some large ice sheets began to advance. They rerouted the drainage of the Missouri river, forced to flow through to a southeasterly direction, and placed where we see it today.

There’s a lot of processes happening within the river there are quite impressive. The building of sandbars and the taking away the sandbars happen from year-to-year means that when you’re out on the river from year-to-year it’s never the same experience.

When I think of the Missouri river, I think of the river of change. To me, it’s always changing itself within the channel, and it’s always changing the landscape around it.

There’s several things part of this river but we really want to make sure that we preserve. That’s these backwaters, like the Gunderson Backwater. Backwards and wetlands are certainly a significant part of a healthy river system. In other cases it’s large islands like Goat Island. Those are magnificent characteristics and you’re not going to find on a small river system.

For me, the most fulfilling part of geology is variety that you encounter: its whole bunch of different types of rock formations that were deposited from this western interior seaway of millions of years ago to the glacial terrain that has highly modified what we see today.

Whether you’re on the river in a boat or a kayak, you really are impressed by the massive size of this river and just the power of the current. You really feel like you’re part of that moving water and, it’s a pretty humbling experience.

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3 minutes, 38 seconds

The geology of the Missouri National Recreational River.


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Steamboats 3:43 minute story of the Missouri National Recreational River Narrative Script

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[ Steamboat horn ]

[ Steamboat whistle ]

LISA YAGER: If you can transport yourself in your mind back to historic days, you can think about when the steamboats were going upstream or downstream along the river.

[ Steamboat horn ]

DOUG HAAR: The steamboat business took place on the Missouri between the 1840s and the 1880s. Gold was discovered in Montana, and Yankton advertised that the safest way to get the gold back down was by using steamboats. They figured in 1865 alone, something like $25 million dollars in gold dust came out of Montana on steamboats back downriver. [ Steamboat whistles, crowd noise, horses ]

TIM COWMAN: There was a lot of activity, a lot of trade. If we were back here in the mid-1800s, we would see on a daily basis steamboats going by this point carrying supplies and people.

[ Steam whistles, crowd noise ]

DOUG HAAR: There were two contracts that were issued by the government. One contract as to supply all the forts on the Upper Missouri, which is 1,955 miles. The other contract was for all the Indian Agencies, as they referred to them in those days. They hauled an incredible amount of freight. A large steamboat was 190 feet long, 33 feet in width, and she would only draw, like, 18 inches of water when she was fully loaded, which is pretty incredible. TIM COWMAN: They had furnaces that burned wood, so a lot of the landowners would create their own woodpiles by the river, and it was essentially gas stations for the steamboats.

[ Explosions ] [ Fire crackles, people stream ] DOUG HAAR: They were very dangerous. Boilers could explode. There were a number of boats that simply blew up. TIM COWMAN: This section of the Missouri is sort of a textbook example of how unpredictable the Missouri River was.

REPORTER: No stretch of water on the globe has swallowed up as much wealth as the Missouri River. Its shifting sands and numerous snags have sent many a boat to the bottom.

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DOUG HAAR: From St. Louis up through Yankton area, there were over 200 boats that were lost on the Missouri River. The sandbars were very, very difficult, and it took a trained eye from the steamboat men or the pilot to actually navigate. You’d look at the water, and it looked like it was maybe 10 or 12 feet deep, when in fact, it might only be six inches deep. The other thing that they had to deal with then were the snags, just laying right below the surface. They would punch right through the hull…just like the North Alabama. You can see the midsection of the ship. The papers reported that she was splayed open, that she broke her back.

LISA YAGER: Once the railroads came into this area, there was not as much of a need for steamboats anymore. The railroad was far more efficient. Without the steamboat traffic, there was less pressure to modify or alter the river. The demise of the steamboat era has really left us with these sections of river that have not been impacted…that are still relatively free-flowing…that still have the snags and sandbars and shallow areas. The feeling of the steamboats are still here.

[ Distant steamboat horn ]

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4 minutes, 23 seconds

Steamboats of the Missouri National Recreational River


Video Gallery

Visit Missouri National Recreational River's YouTube Channel for short videos on the park's natural and historical features.

During the summer of 2012 Teacher Ranger Teacher Mark Nelson assisted park staff in making a series of videos listed below:

  • Ponca: Where the River Flows Freely Introduction to the Missouri National Recreational River and its place in the National Park system.
  • Get Outdoors Day Rangers hosted a Great Outdoors Day for families at Yankton's Riverside Park where games, fun, and presentations gave the visitor a better appreciation of the Missouri National Recreational River.
  • Lost and Found, the Reclamation of the Missouri River Seed Bank Biology Technician Brian Korman summarizes the return of flora after the 2011 flooding of the Missouri River.
  • The National Park You Never Knew About! MNRR Chief of Interpretation Chris Wilkinson explains how the Missouri National Recreational River is a National Park unit just like Yellowstone or Grand Canyon National Parks.
  • Steamboat John Park Ranger John Rokosz plays the role of purser on a steamboat in this preview of the ranger program "Life on the Missouri". John's vivid tales of the challenges and history of this great American epic bring to mind the romance and tragedy of navigating the Mighty Mo.

Aerial Video

Living History Podcast

Reenactors tell stories of early riverboat life on the Missouri River.


Last updated: May 23, 2022

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508 East 2nd Street
Yankton, SD 57078


605-665-0209 x21

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