Digital Index of North American Archaeology (DINAA)

What is DINAA?

The Digital Index of North American Archaeology (DINAA) aggregates archaeological and historical data sets developed over the past century from numerous sources, especially state and federal government agencies. DINAA provides public and research communities with a uniquely comprehensive window into human settlement across North America. DINAA is a collaborative project involving researchers at the University of Tennessee, Indiana State University, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and Open Context, and partners in many government agencies and tribal nations across the United States. The project began in 2012 with funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF), and has continued with renewed support from the NSF and a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services in 2016. View the initial technical proposal.

Current DINAA Coverage: Click Here to Explore

Open Context hosts DINAA data with this project overview and links to associated data. As DINAA grows, the project overview will link to expanded data resources.

Land Acknowledgement

As the team behind the Digital Index of North American Archaeology, we would like to acknowledge the fact that all of North America is Native land. Therefore, the great majority of the data we manage and interpret through the project relates to the history and heritage of Native peoples. We do not take this responsibility lightly and would like to acknowledge those tribal nations who reside or once resided here. We also welcome and seek to promote the involvement of descendant groups in the creation, management, and interpretation of archaeological data in all geographic regions, sectors of practice, and applications.

Ethics, Data, and North American Archaeology

April 16, 2021 – The Digital Index of North American Archaeology (DINAA) recognizes that ethics is a fundamental aspect of good scientific practice and cultural heritage stewardship. DINAA strives to develop practices based on the core values of collaboration with Indigenous peoples, and respect for Indigenous communities, their history, interests, and needs. We feel it is important to reaffirm this and to encourage our colleagues to do the same.

From our beginnings in 2012, DINAA has sought the guidance and participation of Indigenous communities regarding the areas where we work. We have collaborated directly with several tribal groups to use our systems to access open digital information for reuse to benefit their communities as they see fit. For example, DINAA has sent representatives to the annual meeting of the National Association of Tribal Historic Preservation Officers to offer free consultation for several years. DINAA project members have also helped facilitate free workshops for Indigenous scholars to help the project learn about the best ways to accomplish our ethical goals, and to provide information to build community capacity for archaeological data management.

We also maintain a rigorous and continuous process of data evaluation to prevent sensitive data from appearing online in our system and to deal with issues if they emerge. To be ethically respectful of others is not anti-science, it should be the core of any scientific activity.

We have recently published a new book chapter regarding our efforts, and our hope to promote the CARE principles (Collective benefit, Authority to control, Responsibility, Ethics) for Indigenous data governance in our work to better serve Indigenous communities as part of our efforts to foster open and free data accessibility in American archaeology. An almost comprehensive preview is available on Google Books, and we will make a preprint available on our website (it’s so new we’re not quite there yet).

Kansa, E., S. Kansa, D. Anderson, J. Wells, K. Noack Meyers, and S. Yerka. 2021. Access to Government Information and Inclusive Stewardship of America’s Archaeological Heritage. In Digital Mapping and Indigenous America, edited by Janet Berry Hess, pp. 121-135. Routledge, New York.

The past is too important to leave anybody out, and our only way forward is to be inclusive.


– The DINAA Team (David, Eric, Josh, Kelsey, Sarah, and Steve)

How Can I Use DINAA?

DINAA focuses on publishing archaeological “site file” records. Each site file describes an archaeological site recorded by state and federal government agencies that enforce federal historical protection laws. Many government offices directly provided DINAA with data. These data are redacted of sensitive information particularly precise location information so that they can be made public. So, while these data cannot be used for compliance purposes, they still can be used for:

  • Instruction and education about North America’s archaeology and history
  • Research into broad patterns of human settlement over long time periods
  • Linking reports, publications and even museum collections together in space and time

Where Can I Learn More?

This page you are currently reading provides ongoing information about the progress of the project. Click on the links below for more information about the project’s progress. We also broadcast updates to the community via the NASA (National Association of State Archaeologists) listserv. You can also visit our booth in the exhibit hall at the Society for American Archaeology meeting and the annual National Tribal Preservation conference.

I’d Like to Give Feedback and/or Get Involved!

We welcome your questions, comments, and participation in this project, so please comment below or contact us directly by emailing the project PIs: David Anderson (dander19 AT, Josh Wells (jowells AT, and/or Eric Kansa (eric AT

Additional Project News and Updates:

DINAA Information Sheets:

We have created a series of one-page handouts on Google docs for people interested in DINAA to download, reuse, and share.

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