MITCHELL, S.D. (KELO) — There’s been a lot of activity happening at the Mitchell Prehistoric Indian Village.

That’s because a field school, featuring more than 20 students, is underway.

It’s Oscar Wilkinson’s first trip to the United States, and he’s spending some of his time digging around in a pit.

“It’s my first archaeological dig, so being in this new environment is really cool,” Student Oscar Wilkinson said.

Wilkinson is a student at the University of Exeter in England.

He and 20 other students from the college are uncovering clues about the past at the Mitchell Prehistoric Indian Village.

Wilkinson exposed multiple bison skulls.

Bison skull discovered by student Oscar Wilkinson.

“At first I thought, ‘Is that what I think it is?'” Wilkinson said.

Jennifer Barrs is also uncovering pieces of history.

She and her excavation partner found several artifacts, including two bison feet.

“I was pretty amazed, to be honest. At first, we weren’t sure. We kept excavating and found hooves,” Student Jennifer Barrs said.

This is the first time since 2019 students have done an excavation here.

“The excitement in the air is just palpable having them back here, looking forward to all the new things they’re going to be finding,” Prehistoric Indian Village executive director Cindy Gregg said.

The annual digs didn’t happen over the last two years because of the pandemic.

This year features the biggest group yet.

The international students started coming to this Mitchell landmark years ago to get an introduction to the tools and techniques of archaeology.

Along the way, they’re learning about what life was like in the Native American village.

“We find out all about the way they were doing their farming and hunting. We sometimes even find some of the corn. You might think that wouldn’t survive, but if it gets burnt it does and sometimes we find burnt corn kernels and cobs even at times, so we can find out about the early crops that were grown here and how they’ve developed from 1,000 years ago to the crops we see today” University of Exeter professor Alan Outram said.

“The past informs the present, and it informs the future. When you think about how our human culture progresses, we are every day of our lives living on the basis of the past. The information that we apply to solutions and so on comes to us from the past,” Augustana University professor emeritus Adrien Hannus said.

Piecing together the past is what drives Wilkinson to get into this career path.

“It’s the adventure and putting the puzzle together, finding everything out, which is what makes me want to do archaeology, so I’m very happy I’m here and will most likely become an archaeologist in the future,” Wilkinson said.

And he’s off to a good start.

On Saturday and Sunday, the Prehistoric Indian Village will host Archaeology Awareness Weekend.

The weekend will feature demonstrations of Native American games and how to make ceramics, activities for kids, and more.