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Mitchell's Indian Village adding building for artifact storage, as destination continues seeing growth

“We are bursting at the seams with our artifacts,” said Cindy Gregg, executive director of the Indian Village.

INDIANVILLAGE.jpg
Shown here is the building at the Prehistoric Indian Village that will be replaced with a larger structure to store the growing number of Native American artifacts that are being uncovered near the Lake Mitchell site.
Sam Fosness / Republic
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MITCHELL — As archeologists continue discovering more ancient Native American artifacts at the Prehistoric Indian Village, storage space is getting scarce.

To add more storage, the local organization is preparing to enlarge a building near the front entrance of the facility. As part of the building plan, the existing building that’s used to store equipment and some artifacts will be torn down and replaced.

“We are bursting at the seams with our artifacts,” said Cindy Gregg, executive director of the Indian Village.

Considering the grounds at the Indian Village are historic and have been the site of major discoveries that tell the history of how ancient Native Americans lived in the area more than 1,000 years ago, Gregg said there are tedious protocols officials must follow in building the new structure.

“We’re not going to excavate the area. What we’re going to do is put down a gravel base and pour a slab over the base to protect whatever might be underneath,” she said.

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Gregg said the new building would provide organization improvements to help archaeologists who dig for artifacts at the Thomsen Center Archeodome.

“It’s gotten to the point where you don’t know where anything is. If you are looking for artifacts for a particular unit, you have to search all three locations,” Gregg said.

To help fund the building, Gregg said she’s seeking a grant that’s yet to be secured.

With the growth that the Indian Village has experienced in recent years, Gregg said the new building is one of several moves that she hopes will keep the local tourist destination going strong.

Familiar faces returning to Indian Village

Gregg is eager to welcome Adrien Hannus back to the Indian Village this summer to lead archaeological digging. For more than three decades, Hannus, an anthropology professor at Augustana University, has played an instrumental role at the Indian Village by leading groups of archaeologists and diggers who have uncovered artifacts that date back more than 1,000 years, such as an intact bison skeleton, Native American clay pots and 1,000-year-old seeds.

While Hannus would spend much of his summers at the Indian Village, Gregg said the longtime archaeologist will be spending more time at the historic site after he retires from teaching this year.

“We’re going to see some excellent material coming out of Dr. Hannus’ work,” Gregg said.

Gregg said having Hannus on site at the Indian Village throughout the year will allow him to do more extensive research and analysis of the artifacts that are uncovered at the grounds along Lake Mitchell.

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“That’s something we have lagged on. Every summer we keep digging these artifacts from the ground, and then they can be forgotten about,” she said.

Related Topics: LAKE MITCHELL
Sam Fosness joined the Mitchell Republic in May 2018. He was raised in Mitchell, S.D., and graduated from Mitchell High School. He continued his education at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, where he graduated in 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in English. During his time in college, Fosness worked as a news and sports reporter for The Volante newspaper.
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