LAW Mission, Objective, and Goals


Living Archaeology Weekend is a free, annual public outreach program that offers local school children and a national general audience a variety of educational activities in archaeology and the lifeways of American Indians and pioneers delivered along the picturesque banks of Gladie Creek in eastern Kentucky.


The objective of Living Archaeology Weekend is to provide school children and the general public with diverse, high-quality, multi-sensory educational opportunities in American Indian and pioneer technologies and other lifeways, archaeological interpretation, and archaeological site preservation.

Primitive technology expert Keith Grenoble demonstrates native cooking techniques including earth oven roasting and open-fire grilling.

native cooking demonstration, Kentucky archaeology, primitive technology, Woodland Indians, native technology

Program Goals

1.  Living Archaeology Weekend programs will promote in the public an appreciation for cultural diversity and cultural

   accomplishments, focusing on the rich American Indian heritage of Kentucky spanning 11,500 years and continuing to the

   present, as well as the lifeways of historic period settlers in Kentucky.

In Kentucky there is a pervasive and unfortunate misconception that American Indians “never lived in Kentucky and only came here to hunt,” which simply is not correct. Activities associated with LAW demonstrate the truly rich native heritage of Kentucky spanning 11,500 years and continuing to the present. Using presentations, hands-on activities, booklets, and other materials, demonstrators present information about topics such as native technologies, plant domestication, games, music, and oral traditions.​


Historic period pioneers settled in Kentucky beginning in the 1700s. In eastern Kentucky, longhunters involved in the fur trade were among the earliest settlers, followed by homesteaders who farmed the land. Later, mining and ironworking became important industries. Pioneer lifeways are featured at LAW with demonstrations of technologies, crafts, subsistence, architecture, and music.

2.  Living Archaeology Weekend programs will inform the public about the past as it is known through archaeology,

    including but not limited to archaeological site types in Kentucky, the culture history of Kentucky, and reconstruction

    of traditional American Indian and pioneer lifeways in Kentucky.

LAW demonstrations and educational materials describe the variety of prehistoric and historic archaeological sites in Kentucky, such as rock art petroglyphs, rockshelters, iron furnaces, and mills. LAW activities highlight the depth of human history in Kentucky and cultural developments over the last 11,500 years, including how archaeologists study culture history. A major emphasis of LAW demonstrations is on past human lifeways and how archaeologists document those lifeways. LAW demonstrations focus on primitive technologies like flint knapping, ground-stone tool manufacture, pottery making, basket weaving, spinning, and blacksmithing; subsistence and foodways such as hunting practices, diet and food choices, cooking, corn grinding, and other food preparation activities; settlement practices like building architecture, building techniques, and rockshelter utilization; healing practices such as medicinal plant use; forms of entertainment and artistic expression like games, rock art, storytelling, flute playing, drumming, and singing; and belief systems like worldviews and religions.

3.  Living Archaeology Weekend programs will foster in the public respect for cultural resources and promote public

    stewardship of the archaeological record.

Presentations on “leave no trace” hiking and rock art defacement reinforce the need for site protection and provide attendees with actionable alternatives for site preservation. The Gladie Cabin (right) and the Red River Gorge Archaeological District illustrate the importance of preservation programs like the National Register of Historic Places. Personnel from the Kentucky Archaeological Survey (KAS) distribute information about recording archaeological sites, demonstrate the state-wide archaeological site database, and answer questions about the Kentucky Archaeological Registry. The KAS also provides attendees with free bookmarks and sells other printed materials about preserving Kentucky’s rich archaeological heritage.

Living Archaeology Weekend venue

Educational Goals

After attending Living Archaeology Weekend, students, teachers, and the general public will understand that ...

1.   Native peoples who lived in the Red River Gorge had needs similar to ours: food, clothing, and shelter, as well as

    families, government, trade, art, and beliefs. They accomplished great things!

2.  Historic period settlers used new but parallel technologies to address similar needs, as they developed farms,

    industries, and communities in the Red River Gorge.

3.  We all have a responsibility to preserve the places in the Red River Gorge where these past people left behind the

    traces of their ways of life.