Tagged: South Dakota

Mitchell Prehistoric Indian Village Is Active Archeological Site

One of my favorite South Dakota places to visit is the Mitchell Prehistoric Indian Village just off Interstate 90, and my family and I visited last weekend during its annual Archeology Awareness Days.

This prehistoric Indian village, occupied about 1,000 years ago, is the only ongoing archeology site in South Dakota open to the public. Thanks to the Boehnen Memorial Museum and the Thomsen Center Archeodome, people can visit year-round.

For a month every summer, Augustana University in Sioux Falls and Exeter College in Oxford, England, sponsor a joint field school dig for their students. This is the only time of the year visitors can watch archeologists work at the site.

During each field school month (usually mid-June through mid-July), the museum and field school also hosts Archeology Days for one weekend. During this weekend, a variety of experts on Native American culture have exhibits or do demonstrations, and visitors can get involved by throwing spears with atlatls (a type of lever) or making pottery.

The field school students and archeologists will be continue to work at the site through mid-July.

For more information:

My previous visit

Mitchell Prehistoric Indian Village

Have you ever attended the annual Archeology Days at the Indian village? Have you visited any archeology site? Is so, where?

Native Americans’ Day in South Dakota

Crazy Horse National Monument II

Photo at Crazy Horse Memorial in the Black Hills of South Dakota by Deb Hultgren/Flickr: Creative Commons

Since 1990, South Dakota has honored Native Americans’ Day as a state holiday on the second Monday of October. (I’m a day late.)

According to the S.D. Legislature, “Native Americans’ Day is dedicated to the remembrance of the great Native American leaders who contributed so much to the history of our state.”

In honor of all Native Americans (not just those in South Dakota), here’s a list of my previous posts with Native American connections:

My Scott O’Dell Award Challenge: THE GAME OF SILENCE by Louise Erdrich

Interview: Caroline Starr Rose, author of BLUE BIRDS

My Scott O’Dell Award Challenge: 5 Lessons from Streams to the River, River to the Sea by Scott O’Dell

Dance is Unusual Form of Storytelling (For Me)

My Scott O’Dell Award Challenge: Bo at Ballard Creek by Kirkpatrick Hill

Annual Archeology Awareness Days at Mitchell Prehistoric Indian Village

Chickadee by Louise Erdrich (My Scott O’Dell Award Challenge)

My Scott O’Dell Award Challenge: Three things I learned from Island of the Blue Dolphins

American Indian Artistry at the Old Courthouse Museum

For more information about Native Americans’ Day, Crazy Horse, and the Crazy Horse Memorial in the South Dakota Black Hills, see the Crazy Horse Memorial website.

Black Hills Family Vacation Wonderful Start to Summer

Last week my family had a quick trip to the Black Hills in South Dakota. We watched a little of the state high school track meet, visited a college, and did some sightseeing.

One of my favorite vacation things to do is visit museums, visitor centers, and bookstores. We did all three, and I came home with several books.

A couple of my souvenirs. All photos by Deb Watley.

A couple of my souvenirs. All photos by Deb Watley.

I’ve been out to the Black Hills a couple of other times, but this was our first visit to Wall Drug. I knew it was a big tourist stop, but was thrilled to find Wall Drug also housed a bookstore!

Hole in the Wall Book Store at Wall Drug

Hole in the Wall Book Store at Wall Drug.

We visited the Black Hills Institute of Geological Research in Hill City. The museum houses many fossils from the area. The paleontologists who run the museum were the ones who dug up Sue, the famous T-Rex. Then, in Lead, we learned about the former Homestake gold mine at the Black Hills Mining Museum.

We also admired lovely scenery, including Bridal Veil Falls in Spearfish Canyon and the Badlands east of the Black Hills–such different topography, yet so close to each other.

Bridal Veil Falls in Spearfish Canyon

Bridal Veil Falls in Spearfish Canyon

Badlands, South Dakota

Badlands, South Dakota

Of course, we ate at some local landmark restaurants: The Firehouse Brewing Company and Tally’s Silver Spoon, both in Rapid City, and The Homestake¬†Chop House in Lead.

In a previous trip to the Black Hills, we attended a chuckwagon supper, and we visited Mt. Rushmore, Bear Country, the Cosmos, and Hot Springs’ mammoth dig. I’ve yet to visit the Crazy Horse sculpture, the Petrified Forest, or any of the caves. Guess we’ll have to go back!

Have you visited the Black Hills? What are your favorite spots?

Even though I’m not traveling now, I’m still in vacation-mode. I’ll return to my blog on Tuesday, June 30. Happy summer!

May Flowers in South Dakota

Crab apple blossom/Photo by Deb Watley

Crab apple blossoms in my backyard/Photos by Deb Watley

“Sweet April showers do spring May flowers.”

Thomas Tusser (England, 1524-1580)

Bleeding hearts at the Great Plains Zoo in Sioux Falls

Bleeding hearts at the Great Plains Zoo in Sioux Falls

In the past week I’ve also seen lilacs, violets, crocuses, daffodils, tulips, pear trees, apple trees, and dandelions in bloom.

What is blooming in your part of the world?

Annual Archeology Awareness Days at Mitchell Prehistoric Indian Village


Archeodome in Mitchell, SD--photos by Deb Watley

Thomsen Center Archeodome in Mitchell, S.D.–photos by Deb Watley


Last weekend my family and I attended Archeology Awareness Days at the Mitchell Prehistoric Indian Village at Mitchell, S.D.

The archeology site, which is South Dakota’s only one open to the public, was an Indian village 1,000 years ago.

One feature of the special weekend is the variety of experts who do demonstrations of various Native American skills, such as flintknapping, the making of stone knives and arrow or spear points. My sons enjoyed playing traditional Lakota games demonstrated by Mike Marshall of Mission, S.D.

The big draw for me is that the weekend coincides with the archeology field school that is in session each summer. The field school consists of archeologists and students from Augustana College in Sioux Falls, SD, and from Exeter College in Oxford, England. The month of the field school is the only time the public can watch archeologists dig at the Indian village.

An unusual thing about the site is that because it is a permanent site, the Thomsen Center Archeodome has been constructed over one small area of the village, allowing temperature control. Not many other field schools take place in air-conditioning! The building also houses a lab and display areas.


Examples of stone knives

Examples of stone knives


Cache pits began as food storage units and eventually became trash receptacles.

Cache pits began as food storage units and eventually became trash receptacles.


The Archeodome sits over an old part of the village where the residents worked outside.

The slight depressions in the foreground are the locations of earthen lodges.


My kids loved throwing the atlatl, a type of spear.

My kids loved throwing the atlatl, a type of spear.


We’ll be back to the Mitchell Prehistoric Indian Village!

What archeological sites have you been toured?