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The Inuvialuit Social Development Program (ISDP) and Elisa
Hart, Yellowknife, Northwest Territories undertook a survey
and inventory of cultural features at Kitigaaryuit (Kittigazuit).
Kitigaaryuit was an important ceremonial and whaling centre
until the turn of the century. Its significance as a place
important to both Inuvialuit and Canadian history was recognized
by archaeologist Robert McGhee who was responsible for its
being declared a National Historic Site.
Elder Laura Raymond (centre) stands in the foundation
of the old HBC store at Kitigaaryuit and explains to Cathy
Cockney what the store used to look like.
A detailed inventory of cultural features has never been
done, and the result of this project was the recording of
approximately 190 graves, 17 sod house ruins, and the foundation
of a Hudson's Bay Company Store and related buildings. The
project was fortunate in having the services of a professional
survey team from the federal Department of Public Works and
Services in Winnipeg. They will produce a site map with all
features and scale drawings of some of the features. Elders
from Tuktoyaktuk who had lived at Kitigaaryuit or who had
visited it when it was inhabited year round were brought to
the site to talk about its history and to help identify features.
Angik Archaeological Field Project
The continuation of the archaeological field programme
with the school children of Paulatuk was done with the support
of Angik School and the Community Education Council of Paulatuk
with funding and in-kind support provided by Parks Canada-Inuvik
and the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre. The programme
was delivered by Margaret Bertulli and Barbara Cameron of
the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre and Sharon Kirby
of Angik School to students from Grades 7-9. The students
spent mornings and afternoons on site in clement weather,
learning the basic methods of artifact recovery and recording,
and one day in the classroom learning how to make rubber moulds
and plaster casts of objects. They were also responsible for
recording their daily activities in a journal.
The site is located on a spit projecting into Darnley
Bay just north of the community of Paulatuk. It consists of
at least two sod house remains and several pits and was occupied
in the 1930s by Inuvialuit families, members of whom still
live in the Settlement Region. The family of Asisauna Lester,
whose sons were Alec Lester and Fred Lester, occupied the
house which the students excavated (Rose Marie Kirby: personal
The ruins present in the form of a sub-rectangular mound
with two wooden posts protruding above ground level; these
may have been structural support posts. Sod has been removed
from the pits surrounding the features and banked along the
walls in a stepped effect. A nearby pit has two wooden posts
at its southern extremes and is probably the remains of an
ice house or cold pit.
We excavated only to a maximum depth of 25 centimetres
or less. Some structural information was revealed through
excavation. The remains of boards, 8" thick appeared
in three units and may be parts of fallen walls, flooring
or benches. The sod house had at least one glass window as
evidenced by several small fragments of window glass.
Last summer, three legs of a woodburning stove were recovered;
this year, we found the fourth. Other artifacts recovered
include buttons, a reworked handle made from an early form
of plastic, cut caribou antler, a chewing tobacco can and
lid, a vertebral disc of a bowhead whale, and a medal commemorating
the 250th anniversary of the Hudson's Bay Company in 1920.
Students receiving a lesson in gridding a sod house
ruin before excavation at Paulatuk.
Cache Point, Mackenzie Delta
The Cache Point site, located on the East Channel of the
Mackenzie River, is the earliest Inuvialuit beluga whale hunting
site known from the Mackenzie Delta region. Max Friesen (University
of Toronto) surveyed and mapped the site as part of the Qilalugaq
Archaeology Project, recording a total of 22 driftwood-and-sod
houses. The Cache Point houses are much smaller than the complex
multi-roomed recent Inuvialuit houses such as those which
were built at Kittigazuit. Approximately ten of these houses
are located on the edge of an actively eroding bluff, and
substantial deposits full of tools and beluga whale bones
can be seen eroding down the bank. Following this fieldwork,
Max Friesen spent eight days in Yellowknife, analyzing earlier
collections from the Cache Point site housed at the Prince
of Wales Northern Heritage Centre.
These collections confirm the early date of the site,
and include Thule forms of harpoon and arrow heads. The information
gleaned from this project will be used to plan future fieldwork
at the site, which will be designed to understand how early
Inuvialuit in the Mackenzie Delta lived, and what methods
were used to hunt beluga whales in the distant past.
Eroding beluga bones and house timbers at the Cache
Point site, Richards Island, Mackenzie Delta.