The Village is the only archaeological site in South Dakota that is open to the public. It was discovered in 1910 by a student from Dakota Wesleyan University. The Mitchell Prehistoric Indian Village Preservation Society was formed in 1975 to preserve the site. Our mission statement is to promote an understanding of the first people to inhabit in this region by developing, preserving and exhibiting a significant collection and archaeological site; by taking a leadership role in research and scholarship; by engaging and providing access for audiences from all nations; and by delivering innovative programs of benefit to the general public and community.
Students from the University of Exeter, Exeter, England and Augustana University, Sioux Falls, South Dakota come each summer for our annual Summer Archaeology Field School to continue excavations of the site. Over the years we have learned much about the people who lived here 1,100 years ago. We have learned that this site was a major bison processing center, our people were processing bison on an industrial scale to extract bone grease for the manufacture of pemmican. We also know that these people were skilled farmers, growing crops such as corn, beans, squashes, sunflower, tobacco and amaranth.
The people who lived here lived in earthen lodges (teepees are a "modern" convenience - it was after the introduction of horses that made it possible for the nomadic tribes to live in teepees) that were built on a bluff overlooking what was then a creek; the creek was dammed in 1928 to create Lake Mitchell. There are 70 to 80 lodges buried on our grounds.
Excavations take place in the Thomsen Center Archeodome. When funding allows, we are able to work all year around in the comfort of the Archeodome. The laboratory and exhibits are also found in the Archeodome.