Mitchell Prehistoric Indian Village

2021, Cahokian, Mandan, Native Americans, Road Trip, South Dakota, States

Combine archeology and a Harvest Hosts location and you’ve got our attention. Although we were not able to do an overnight stay, we did still get to visit an amazing location. The Mitchell Prehistoric Indian Village near Mitchell, South Dakota is an active archeological site housed within the Thomsen Center Archedome constructed not only to provide an opportunity for visitors to be able to watch archeologists at work but to protect the site from the elements. We actually started our visit in the visitors center/museum where we watched an excellent video narrated by the archeologist Adrien Hannus who did a fabulous explanation of the migration of hunter-gatherer Native Americans following game herds and water routes across North and South America leading the the discovery in Central America of attractive grasses and thus to the domestication of maize which along with squash and bean led to the beginnings of the agricultural revolution and patterns of settlement to supplement hunting and gathering. By a thousand years ago one band settled here on the banks of Firesteel Creek, now Lake Mitchell. Up to three hundred people lived here for about a hundred years farming, hunting, gathering, cooking, baking, making pemmican, creating pottery, and trading across an extensive network. Considering some of the artifacts that have been found, it’s possible that these people were ancestors of the Mandan peoples that by the early Nineteenth Century were living in northwestern North Dakota. They definitely traded with Cahokian peoples. Discovered by archeologists in 1910, the Mitchell site is the only archeology site in South Dakota open to the public. Of course we were fascinated not only with the permanent exhibits but also with the hands-on Paleo Games happening this weekend, watching an archeologist at work, and conversing with the director Cindy Gregg.

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