Great Council State Park, honoring native Ohio tribes, opens June 7 near Xenia



Ohio’s newest state park is set to open this June.

Great Council State Park, located along U.S. 68 between Xenia and Yellow Springs, is scheduled to have its grand opening at 10 a.m. on Friday, June 7.

Great Council State Park is located in what used to be called “Old Chillicothe,” a vibrant Shawnee town founded in the 1770s and led by Chief Blackfish, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

“We wanted to do something extraordinary to tell this chapter of Ohio’s history,” ODNR Director Mary Mertz said. “Great Council State Park accomplishes that goal by providing a large, immersive experience for people to learn about the legends that surrounded the area and the role Ohio’s natural resources played.”

Great Council was developed alongside three federally recognized Shawnee tribes — the Shawnee Tribe, Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma, and the Absentee Shawnee Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma. The center is focused on Ohio’s native peoples, their history in their Ohio homeland, and their lives today.

The interpretive center is a 12,000-square-foot modern interpretation of a council house, the primary gathering place and traditional dwelling in a Shawnee village. Inside, visitors will find a living stream with native aquatic life, a theater, and three floors of exhibits that depict what life was like for the Shawnee and early settlers in the 1770s.

ODNR also has plans for a loop hiking trail around a native prairie on the 14 acres of the park.

“Fran and I are excited to open a brand-new state park in Ohio that honors the state’s natural and cultural heritage,” Governor Mike DeWine said. “Great Council State Park will feature an immersive interpretive center for visitors to learn about Ohio’s Shawnee and frontier history.”

Great Council State Park began construction in 2022 with a budget of $11.4 million.

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