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August 6 - 7 and 13 - 14, 2022

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Who may participate?
 ...and how?

You and your family are invited to work right alongside the professional archaeologists. Try your hand at a variety of tasks from digging to screening and more. Children ages 5 and up are welcomed to participate with the direct supervision of a parent, guardian, or other responsible adult.

A membership is required in order to participate. We recommend that you purchase your membership ahead of time, although memberships may also be purchased on the days of the dig. Bring your membership card to the event.

Pre-register for your dig time(s)We suggest pre-registering for the specific dig time(s) in which you wish to participate. You may also register at the door if there is still availability. Be sure to carefully read all of the information on the registration page before pre-registering.

May I just spectate?

Yes, you may spectate for free! Membership is only required to dig.

Blacksmithing demonstrations

Live blacksmithing demonstrations are planned to coincide with our dig weekends. Explore the history and techniques of blacksmithing as we endeavor to locate the 1830s agency blacksmith shop.

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Special exhibits

Enjoy our outdoor 'museum' with various exhibits on both archaeology and frontier blacksmithing for adults and kids. Several components are interactive, challenging you to analyze scenarios that come up in the everyday work of archaeologists. Kids: try using the bellows to stoke the 'fire' (a pinwheel) in our mockup of a blacksmith's forge, too. 

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Come dig with us

We're in hot pursuit of the hottest place on the hillside: the agency blacksmith shop. Roll up your sleeves and dig with us into our site's buried history. Come prepared to get dirty, learn a lot, and personally play an important part in the quest to expand our historical understanding of how the Fort Winnebago Indian Agency—and particularly the blacksmith shop—functioned in the early 1830s.

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Why archaeology?

Written records, alone, cannot answer some important questions about how John Kinzie's Indian Agency worked.  In this our third archaeological season, our main inquiry continues to be how the agency blacksmith shop functioned. A smith was established here in 1830 to serve the Ho-Chunk Nation. Evidence in the ground may reveal answers that help broaden our historical interpretation. Our objective through archaeological inquiry is to be able to educate with a more holistic perspective on the people, places, and significant events of the site's history. In the process, we also hope to foster within participants an appreciation and basic  understanding of this important means by which history is preserved and interpreted.

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Video footage from 2021

Background information

Pre-dig videos that put it all in context

Blacksmith history

Learn the basics about frontier blacksmithing, or dig even deeper into a published paper or a lecture on Indian agency blacksmiths of the American frontier.

Archaeology kids' camp

Our virtual archaeology kids' camp is available for FREE! Through a series of videos and activities, have fun as a family or school group learning hands-on what it takes to be an archaeologist.

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Dig sponsored by:

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News Articles

         (Log in to your madison.com or wiscnews

           account to view the online article/video)

Archaeology at the Agency