Archaeology at the Agency

Join us for our 2021 season's

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 have fun!


Who may participate? ...and how?

You and your family are invited to work right alongside the 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 excavation. Bring your membership card to the event.

Pre-registration is now open! 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.

If desired, you may sign your liability waiver ahead of time and bring it with you.

When is it?

The dig will be held on two consecutive weekends: July 18-19 and July 25-26. (Be sure to bring your mask. Homemade cloth masks are also available on-site for $3 each.)

May I just spectate?

Yes, you may spectate for free. However, because we need to maintain social distancing, those with memberships will take precedence if visitor numbers must be limited at any given time. Thank you for your understanding and cooperation.

Know our Covid-19 policies

Dig sponsored by:

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 some answers.


Blacksmith history

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

More to explore

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 and excavate the 1830s Agency blacksmith shop!

Archaeology kids' camp

Learn hands-on what it takes to be an archaeologist at our virtual camp!

Sponsored by:

Special archaeology exhibit

Have fun analyzing scenarios that come up in the everyday work of those who study the past through scientific excavation.

Summer speaker series

Talks will cover a variety of topics related to archaeology and blacksmithing. Admission is free!

Co-sponsored by:


News releases

Archaeology kits for kids

Great gifts for archaeologists-in-training! $12 (available in our gift shop)

Archaeology at the Agency 2021

The Historic Indian Agency House

1490 Agency House Road, Portage, WI 53901


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