The Archaeological Research Center explores, preserves, and exhibits the archaeological record of South Dakota's human story for present and future generations

The Archaeological Research Center is a program of the South Dakota State Historical Society under the direction of the state archaeologist. It was established in 1974 and originally located in the W.H. Over Museum in Vermillion, S.D. In 1974 it was moved to Fort Meade, near Sturgis, and in 1987 it was relocated to Rapid City. The Center fulfills its mission through several programs:

  • Conduct a statewide archaeological survey. The state archaeologist is charged with conducting a survey of archaeological sites in the state. To this end, archaeological survey and excavation projects are carried out by Center personnel on various contracts with state and federal agencies to assist them in their cultural resource management obligations. Additionally, the Center conducts surveys and excavations funded through various grant sources.

  • Protect South Dakota's archaeological resources. The state archaeologist works to protect important archaeological sites in South Dakota by working closely with federal and state agencies in carrying out their cultural resource management obligations. The state archaeologist also reviews permit applications for mining and mineral exploration, gravel pits, and oil and gas explorations. Recommendations are made as to what steps are necessary to protect archaeological resources. The state archaeologist also is responsible for protecting unmarked human burials and remains. This includes the repatriation of human remains to Indian tribes or overseeing their reburial.

  • Maintain records of the archaeological sites in South Dakota. The Center keeps a database of information on all known archaeological sites in South Dakota. Information on sites is provided by archaeologists working on federal, state, and private projects and by individual citizens. The state files for archaeology provide the only centralized source up-to-date information for persons conducting research in South Dakota. The information stored includes a computerized database of sites, projects, and bibliographical references; files of original survey records; USGS 1:24000 scale maps of site and survey locations; and an extensive research library.

  • Act as a repository for archaeological collections. In addition to storing its own state archaeological collections, the Center maintains a large repository of artifact collections belonging to various federal agencies. In all, over 7000 accessioned collections are housed at the Center. Many are small surface pickups, but many others represent the results of large-scale excavation projects with thousands or even hundreds of thousands of items collected. Along with the artifacts, the Center maintains all the catalog records, field maps, drawings, notes, and photographs from the projects.

  • Promote awareness of South Dakota's prehistoric and historic heritage. The Center actively seeks to inform the public about South Dakota's long and colorful history. This is carried out through talks and demonstrations for schools and various civic organizations around the state, assisting museums in preparing archaeological displays, artifact loans to museums and other qualified institutions, and an exhibit at the Journey Museum in Rapid City.

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P O Box 1257

Rapid City, SD 57709

p: 605-394-1936

f: 605-394-1941


217 Kansas City Street

Rapid City, SD 57701