Mitchell’s Indian Village adds artifact storage building as destination continues to grow – Mitchell Republic

MITCHELL – As archaeologists continue to uncover ancient Native American artifacts at the Prehistoric Indian Village, storage space is tight.

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

“We’re jam-packed with our artifacts,” said Cindy Gregg, executive director of the Indian Village.

Considering the Indian Village grounds are historic and have been the site of major finds that tell the story of how ancient Native Americans lived in the area over 1,000 years ago, Gregg said there are protocols tedious process that managers must follow to build the new structure.

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

Gregg said the new building will bring organizational improvements to help archaeologists digging for artifacts at the Thomsen Center Archeodome.

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

To help fund the building, Gregg said she was looking for a grant that has yet to be secured.

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

Familiar faces return to Indian Village

Gregg is looking forward to welcoming Adrien Hannus back to the Indian Village this summer to lead the archaeological digs. For more than three decades, Hannus, a professor of anthropology at the University of Augustana, was instrumental in the Indian village, leading groups of archaeologists and diggers who uncovered artifacts dating back more than 1,000 years old, like an intact bison skeleton, Native American clay pots and 1000 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 retiring from teaching this year.

“We’re going to see some great material from Dr. Hannus’ work,” Gregg said.

Gregg said having Hanus on site at the Indian Village year-round would allow him to do more in-depth research and analysis of the artifacts discovered on the grounds along Lake Mitchell.

“It’s something we’ve been lagging behind. Every summer we keep digging these artifacts out of the ground and then they can be forgotten,” she said.

Christina A. Kroll