- Associated Press - Thursday, January 12, 2017

WESTFIELD, Iowa (AP) - A site in northwest Iowa inhabited by Native Americans roughly 800 years ago is now designated a National Historic Landmark.

The designation for the 1.9-acre Kimball Village Site near Westfield was announced Wednesday by the U.S. Department of the Interior highlights the location’s significance and offers some protection against development, the Sioux City Journal (https://bit.ly/2ioyeOb ) reported.

Historians believe the site was inhabited between 1100 and 1250 by Prairie-Plains tribes living along the Big Sioux River. Since its discovery in the late 1930s, the site remains about 97 percent untouched despite several archaeological field investigations.

State archaeologist John Doershuk said the exact location of the site, which is in the middle of a farm field, will be kept confidential under the new designation due to private property rights. The site is marked by a mound that rises several feet above ground, which Doershuk said sits atop at least 20 closely-spaced housing structures, a fortification ditch and a palisade wall.

“It’s essentially a complete village - an intact village,” he said.

Sioux City Public Museum’s curator of history, Matt Anderson, said that while no one knows exactly which modern tribes may have descended from the original inhabitants, he knows that the group stayed there year-round.

“They hunted buffalo and deer and things like that, but they were also agriculturalists,” Anderson said. “They grew a primitive version of corn and other grasses.”

A historical account from the National Park Service says that archeologists in the 1930s excavated the site and found more than 9,000 artifacts, including tools made from bone, matting needles and animal-shaped ceramic pottery handles. Anderson said many of those artifacts are currently at the museum.

“There are sites here in the Sioux City area, but the Kimball Village is the best-preserved,” he said.

The site is the first National Historic Landmark in Plymouth County.

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Information from: Sioux City Journal, https://www.siouxcityjournal.com

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