ALUTIIQ MUSEUM  215 Mission Road, Kodiak, Alaska 99615   |  844-425-8844  |  view calendar > | search >

Have you ever wanted to be an archaeologist?

If the answer is YES!, the Alutiiq Museum’s Community Archaeology program may be just right for you. Join museum archaeologists in an exploration of Kodiak’s past, unearth stone tools, study animal bones, reveal sod houses, and learn about the remarkable history of the Alutiiq people.

Community Archaeology invites volunteers to work as members of an archaeological field crew, studying Kodiak prehistory with professional researchers.  Scientists and community members excavate sites near Kodiak threatened by erosion, vandalism ,and development, working together to preserve unique pieces of Kodiak’s past.  This is a chance to explore prehistory with the pros, to experience the past in new ways, and to challenge yourself.  Participants can earn college or high school credit.

Click the tabs above to explore this popular program, open too all people 14 years and older. Or contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information on how to get involved.


April Counceller excavates at the Outlet Site

Modern archaeology on Kodiak is not like the movies - but it does require an adventurous spirit. Rain, bugs, and lots of dirt are part of the daily experience of our volunteers. But if you do mind wearing rain gear and having the charcoal of ancient campfires under your finger nails, and if beautiful scenery, new friends, and unique discoveries sound exciting, then you will enjoy Community Archaeology.

Who knows what's you might find . . .

What I  have learned working for the museum was to be patient (it’s always okay to work slowly) and ask questions on what we found in the excavation. I had also learned that these people in the past were very smart to build the houses that had lasted for many years, and knew what kind of materials to build with and how to keep warm during the fall and winter seasons.

-Tristan Kewan, site intern


Muddy excavators at work at Zaimka Mound
Each year the Alutiiq Museum chooses a site to study near the city of Kodiak, and gains permission from the landowner for research.   Then, volunteers work beside professional archaeologists – removing sod and volcanic ash falls with shovels and exploring the layers of ancient camp sites with hand held digging tools – trowels and dust pans. Every excavator works in their own square to preserve information on the location of artifacts in the site.  No previous experience is necessary.  We will show you what to do.  We ask that all volunteers spend a full day at the site on their first day, for training.  After that volunteers are welcome for a half day.


Debbie Staggs uncovers a 6,000 year old hearth

Participants dig with anticipation, wondering who will be the next to unearth an ancient object. It might be an artifact – a delicate chipped stone point or a lance blade ground from slate. Or, it might be an animal bone, the remains of a fish or seal. Small objects are hard to see in the dirt, so participants sieve all the dirt they remove to find tiny objects.

Not all finds are objects. One goal of the program is to study structures – the houses, sheds, pits and hearths that also record past activities. Excavator work to uncover these larger finds, so they can be mapped and photographed.


Mapping at Zaimka Mound
Mapping the archaeological finds is a chance for instruction. Participants help the archaeologists plot the dimensions of features uncovered in the site and record the depth of each layer with surveying instruments. Students and interns must also keep notebooks describing field methods, finds, and interpretations.


Bronwyn Lyman holds portions of a slate lance
There are more than 1000 prehistoric archaeological sites in the Kodiak region, and ever year, vandals damage some through recreational digging and artifact collecting. These illegal activities are stealing Alutiiq history and disturbing sites so they cannot be meaningfully studied. Community Archaeology provides the public with the opportunity to experience archaeology in a positive way. Many of our volunteers become long-term supporters of historic preservation–some even go on to study archaeology.

Collections from the project are loaned to the Alutiiq Museum for study by their owners.  At the museum, volunteers assist archaeologists in washing, organizing, cataloging and storing the objects, so they can be studied and displayed.


Excavators begin work at Bruhn Point
Over the past 15 years, the Community Archaeology program has studied eight sites in the greater Womens Bay region, adding to our knowledge of Alutiiq prehistory. Together these sites are helping us to understand how Alutiiqs used different environments – the banks of the Buskin River, the windy water around Cliff Point, the islands at the eastern entrance to Chiniak Bay, and the quiet inner bay. They also show us how Alutiiq communities changed over time.


Carmen Ceron at the Amak Site, 2011


Participants should plan to spend one full day at the dig on their first visit.  Half days can be scheduled after a day of training.

This project is free and open to the public. Any one age 14 or older may participate. Please call the museum to reserve a spot, as space is limited. Group tours of the excavation are also available. To reserve a space on the excavation for a day, a week, or more, or to arrange a tour, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., 844-425-8844.

Yes. The museum is happy to include out-of-town volunteers. However, we do not provide assistance with housing, transportation, or other necessities like food, showers, and laundry. Out-of-town volunteers must plan to be self-sufficient.

Excavations at the Amak site, 2011

Warm layers of clothing, rain gear, rubber boots, a hat, gloves, bug spray, sun screen, a bag lunch, and a water bottle. We’ll provide the digging gear.  No firearms are permitted.

Participants meet daily at the Alutiiq Museum to carpool to the site.  Volunteers may drive their personal vehicles to the site.

Participants will assist museum archaeologists with every aspect of the excavation, from digging and mapping to screening dirt and carrying buckets. Wear old clothes. You will get dirty!

Each summer, the Alutiiq Museum offers Community Archaeology participants the chance to earn high school or college credit for participating in the excavation through the Kodiak Island Borough School District and Kodiak College, a branch of the University of Alaska Anchorage . Graduate student credit can also be arranged.




Jill Lipka in a circle of stones
uncovered at the Amak site, 2011

Our thanks to the many organizations, volunteers, students, interns, and museum staff members who have helped to make community archaeology a great success. Program supporters have included:

Alutiiq Heritage Foundation
Kodiak College
Kodiak Historical Society, Baranov Museum
Kodiak Island Borough
Kodiak Island Borough School District
Koniag, Inc.
Leisnoi, Inc.
Natives of Kodiak, Inc.
U.S. Coast Guard Communication Station Kodiak
University of Alaska Fairbanks