Kicking Off the 2023 Nebraska Archeology Month

Nebraska State Archeologist Dave Williams drawing a soil profile in a trench near Genoa, NE.

It’s hard to believe that we’re already back around to another Nebraska Archeology Month. As Nebraska’s State Archeologist, I have the great honor to kick off this month-long celebration of our state’s deep history and impressive archeological record. Staff from the State Archeology Office (SAO) and I are thrilled to share with the citizens of Nebraska and the public abroad our passion and dedication to preserving, exploring, and interpreting the state’s nearly 11,000 documented archeological sites spanning at least 13,000 years of history. Much of the time, the results of investigations carried out by us and our archeologist colleagues aren’t as broadly shared with the public—taxpayers and supporters without whom our jobs wouldn’t exist–as we’d like. Spending the next 30 days sharing our work world and our finds with you is a great pleasure.

Since last Archeology Month, the SAO team has been hard at work completing surveys, testing and documenting archeological sites and standing structures, and preparing reports for our numerous clients. In fact, through 2022, we completed nearly 100 projects for the Nebraska Department of Transportation alone, covering over 2,100 acres of ground throughout the state! We’ve also had the great fortune of working closely with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission at Chadron State Park and Ft. Atkinson State Historical Park, staff and citizens of Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma on an oral history and research project about Massacre Canyon, located in Hitchcock County, and the Nebraska Commission on Indian Affairs and numerous Tribal leaders from across the country in our efforts to locate the cemetery associated with the Genoa Indian Industrial School in Nance County.


SAO staff and citizens of Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma conducting pedestrian and metal detector survey at Massacre Canyon, Hitchcock County, in June 2023.


To celebrate the work of this past year and the work of SAO staff and partners in decades past, I’m excited to share some of the outreach and engagement opportunities we have coming up. Continuing from last year, the SAO is collaborating closely with History Nebraska’s team of educators on several educational activities. Each “Digital Monday” through September will contain opportunities for school groups across Nebraska to log in and take a virtual tour of our “Piecing Together the Past” exhibit at the Nebraska History Museum (NHM) or experience a virtual show-and-tell containing actual artifacts recovered from Nebraska archeological sites. If you have a class that may be interested in either of these programs, there are separate sign-ups for the show-and-tell and exhibit tours. Additionally, Saturday, September 9th, will be Archeology Day at the NHM! This free event will include hands-on activities throughout the day and a guided tour of Piecing Together the Past at 2:00 p.m. that afternoon. More information on Archeology Day and tour registration can be found here.


Check out the Piecing Together the Past exhibit at the Nebraska History Museum today!


Other programming throughout the month includes multiple Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) courses through the University of Nebraska Lincoln, Sunday with a Scientist at Morrill Hall on September 24th, and presentations and walking tours highlighting the archeology of Fort Atkinson State Historical Park on September 2 and 3. Most exciting is the return of our community volunteer excavation! We will be spending two days—September 30th and October 1st—back at Fort Atkinson, searching an area believed to be a blacksmithing shop. Be on the lookout for registration information soon on the History Nebraska Events webpage. Each of these events allows our SAO team and other HN staff to engage with members of the public and share our love of Nebraska archeology and the history of our great state!


SAO staff and volunteers worked hard during the 2022 volunteer excavation at Fort Atkinson State Historical Park.

Additional content on Nebraska archeology will be shared all month long here on the HN blog, and on HN’s social media accounts. Keep an eye out for “Meet the Team” posts, updates on current field projects from the field, unique or interesting finds from past projects, behind-the-scenes peeks of the SAO, responses to questions you’ve asked our team, and more!

Thank you for your continued support of Nebraska archeology. Please feel free to reach out to me with any questions, comments, or concerns you may have.

Dave Williams


[email protected]

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