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 participate with the direct supervision of a parent, guardian, or other responsible adult.

A membership 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 the 1830s Agency blacksmith shop.

Special exhibits

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. We will also have an outdoor mini exhibit on blacksmithing during the dig weekends.

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:

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 Agency—and particularly the blacksmith shop—functioned in the early 1830s.

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 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.

Background Information


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.

COVID policies for the dig

  • Masks are not required outdoors. Please social distance.

  • However, when physically participating within the dig zone, masks will likely be required when close proximity to others is largely unavoidable and sustained.

  • Masks are required indoors.

  • As always, please do not attend if you have symptoms of illness, have been recently exposed to Covid-19, or are positive for Covid/awaiting results of a Covid-19 test.

Dig sponsored by:

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Archaeology at the Agency 2021