Archaeological Dig 2021

JULY 10-11 & JULY 17-18, 2021

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 join in the fun with the direct supervision of a parent, guardian, or other responsible adult.

A membership (individual or family) is required in order to participate. We strongly 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. Enjoy our outdoor mini exhibit on the topic, too. Explore the history and techniques of blacksmithing as we endeavor to locate and excavate the 1830s Agency blacksmith shop! 

Special archaeology exhibit

Tours of the museum and historic house are also available during the dig. Our 2021 special exhibit challenges you to analyze scenarios that come up in the everyday work of those who study the past through scientific excavation.

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.

Sponsored by:

2021 news releases / media coverage

Check back soon.

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 make great memories through this once in a lifetime opportunity as you and your family help unearth artifacts that may not have been touched by human hands for 200 years or more.

Why archaeology?

Written records, alone, cannot answer some important questions about how John Kinzie's Indian Agency worked.  Our main inquiry this season is how the Agency blacksmith functioned. A smith was established here in 1830 to serve the Ho-Chunk tribe. Evidence in the ground may reveal answers.

Background Information

This is year two of the excavation. Check out the Wisconsin State Journal article and video below which covered the 2020 dig, as well our October 2020 newsletter which contained an article in regard to what was unearthed in 2020.

Additional background video segments

Learn more

Blacksmith history

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

Dig generously sponsored by:

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Archaeology at the Agency 2021

The Historic Indian Agency House

1490 Agency House Road, Portage, WI 53901


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