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Published May 24, 2012, 10:13 PM

MSUM archeology class digging up North Dakota history

Lisbon, ND (WDAY TV) - Long before settlers from Europe arrived on the Great Plains, a large number of Native American populated the area. An MSUM archeology class is digging up their history from over 500 years ago.

Long before settlers from Europe arrived on the Great Plains, a large number of Native American populated the area. An MSUM archeology class is digging up their history from over 500 years ago.

On a bluff overlooking the Sheyenne River just east of Lisbon, North Dakota, a team of MSUM students is digging and sifting their way into the past looking for evidence of people that lived here between 1200 and 1400.

George Holley – MSUM Professor: “This is an important time period for us. Native American are beginning to adopt agriculture and they're beginning to settle down and we think we know who they're trading with and what they look like, but were not so sure so that why we’re here to sort of confirm our hunches about what's going on.”

It's essentially the trash of their everyday lives that is providing the clues to how they lived.

George Holley: “Broken pieces of pottery and bone, this more than likely bison bone because they are hunting buffalo here and shells that they are taking from the nearby river.”

For many of the students it's there first time out in the field.

Danielle Clark – MSUM Student: “Sitting in a class room you learn so much, but actually doing it is like a whole other world of experience and it's a lot of fun.”

Out at a dig site there are the things that class doesn't prepare you for.

Danielle Clark: “This morning we ended up with like 50 frogs in half of our units and we had to dig them out before we could do anything with them.”

The site that they are digging on is actually about 300 yards north of another archeological site. Here there was a Sheyenne Indian village of about 600 people in the 1700's.

This site was considered so important that the Archeological Conservancy purchased it. The new site the MSUM team is working on is also part of that land.

George Holley: “This just happened to be in the land that they purchased so they didn't even know they had it until we came out here and looked. It looks like a nice spot.”

With the information from both spots we will get a clearer understanding of the people that lived here hundreds of years ago.

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