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Anthropology students from USD receive SD State Historical Society Award

VERMILLION, S.D. -- The University of South Dakota’s Anthropology Department announced recently that five undergraduate students have been chosen to receive the South Dakota State Historical Society Award for student service. Students Alec Anton, Aaron Mayer, Zach Nelson, Jesse Van Maanen, and Bridget Wilds were selected for their volunteer work at state archaeological sites.

The students volunteered with Mike Fosha of the South Dakota State Historical Society and Archaeological Research Center. Anton, Mayer, Nelson and Van Maanen worked on a rescue archaeology project that contained many settler burials in North Sioux City. Wilds worked on an archaeological survey at a site from the late 1800s that was slated for development.

Anton is a senior Anthropology major from Pierre, S.D., and has conducted fieldwork in Peru. This past summer, he had an internship with the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Department monitoring archaeological sites.

Mayer is a graduate student from Vermillion, S.D., completing an interdisciplinary Social Sciences degree in Anthropology and Political Science. He worked with USD’s Matthew Sayre, Ph.D., assistant professor of anthropology and sustainability, at the site of Chavin de Huantar in Peru. Mayer is currently analyzing paleoethnobotanical samples collected from an excavation site in Tenehaha, Peru.

Nelson is a junior from Sioux Falls, S.D., majoring in Spanish and Anthropology. Because of his previous work in Peru, he is currently working on an independent research project on ancient Peruvian Art.

Van Maanen is a senior from Yankton, S.D., majoring in Spanish, International Studies and Anthropology. She has completed fieldwork in Peru and hopes to find a career in international business upon graduation.

Wilds is a junior History and Anthropology double major from Rapid City, S.D. This past summer, she worked at the South Dakota State Archaeological Research Center on a survey of the former Rotary Park and assisted in the cleaning and sorting of recovered artifacts.

A photo of (back, left) Anton, Mayer, Nelson, (front, left) Wilds and Van Maanen is available for download at


Founded in 1862 and the first university in the Dakotas, the University of South Dakota is the only public liberal arts university in the state, with 202 undergraduate and 78 graduate programs in the College of Arts & Sciences, School of Education, Knudson School of Law, Sanford School of Medicine, School of Health Sciences, Beacom School of Business and College of Fine Arts. With an enrollment of nearly 10,000 students and more than 400 faculty, USD has a 16:1 student/faculty ratio, and it ranks among the best in academics and affordability. USD’s 18 athletic programs compete at the NCAA Division I level.

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Hanna DeLange
USD News