Archaeological Fieldwork Reports for 1996
All reports compiled and edited by Margaret Bertulli, Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre
Coburg Island and waters within a ten-kilometre radius were established as the Nirjutiqavvik National Wildlife Area, the second in the Northwest Territories, in August 1995. The area’s biological diversity and ecological importance are well documented and long since recognized through its designation as an Ecological Site under the International Biological Programme (1964-74). Nirjutiqavvik is managed in accordance with the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement and the Canadian Wildlife Act. A committee composed of representatives from Inuit agencies and the federal and territorial governments is currently developing a management plan and policies for the National Wildlife Area.
The Canadian Wildlife Service began its contribution toward this work with a field survey on Coburg Island for six days in July-August 1996. With the assistance of Margaret Bertulli of the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre, a preliminary assessment was made of the archaeological resources on the North Water Lowland. Unfortunately, weather largely restricted the field crew to the lowland north of Marina Peninsula. It proved impossible in the short season to have a helicopter brought in for aerial surveys. In our experience, Coburg Island has two kinds of weather at this time of year–completely fogbound or sunny with exceedingly high winds. The island is difficult if not infeasible to circumscribe by foot as the lowlands are bounded by impassable glaciers or scree slopes dropping into the sea. Thus, only a foot survey around parts of the lowland were completed.
The island’s location at the western edge of the North Water polynya favour it as habitat for many seabirds and marine mammals. Five sites were located on the North Water Lowland, one Dorset site and three Thule sites, and a rock alignment whose function is not known. There are reports of others sites on the northern tip of the island, along the south shore, and at Cape Spencer.
This small, but “conspicuous and dramatic” island figures significantly in the annals of European, Canadian and American exploration in the High Arctic, having been visited or charted by William Baffin (1616); John Ross (1818); Augustus Inglefield (1852); Otto Sverdrup (1904) and J. E. Bernier (1906).
Robert McGhee (Canadian Museum of Civilization), with the assistance of Mark Amerualik (Resolute Bay), carried out a survey of the proposed North Bathurst Island National Park. Helicopter survey examined coastal areas within the proposed Park, as well as several interior valleys. A walking survey covered most of the eastern coast of the island between Polar Bear Park National Wildlife Area, and the Inuit Owned Lands to the north of Moses Robinson River
Approximately 20 previously unreported archaeological sites were recorded, but the majority of these lie in areas adjacent to the proposed Park, either in the Polar Bear Pass National Wildlife Area, or the Inuit Owned Lands along the eastern coast of the island. The sites within the proposed Park were limited to the northern shore of Bracebridge Inlet, and along the eastern coast to the south of the Inuit Owned Lands. These sites, all of which were extremely small, represent sporadic occupation of the area by early Palaeo-Eskimo, Late Dorset, and Thule culture groups.
A team of underwater archaeologists from the Vancouver Maritime Museum conducted a series of dives to document the shipwreck Baymaud off Cambridge Bay. Baymaud sank in 1930 after a short but famous career in the Arctic. The project was the first to map a shipwreck in the Arctic.
DiversBaymaud was built in Kristiana (now Oslo) Norway as the ship Maud in 1917 for explorer Roald Amundsen. Amundsen was the first explorer to navigate the Northwest Passage and to reach the South Pole. He designed Maud to freeze in and drift in the ice. Amundsen’s intended destination was the North Pole. The First World War and the fear of German submarines led Amundsen to sail for the Bering Straits by way of the Northeast Passage, across the top of Europe and Asia. It proved to be a mistake.
The ship was frozen in thick ice on the coast of Siberia for two years. Amundsen nearly died on the expedition, once when mauled by a polar bear, the other when he nearly succumbed to carbon monoxide poisoning while taking scientific observations alone in a unventilated tent. When Maud arrived at Nome, Alaska on 27 July 1920, the ship became the second to navigate the Northeast Passage. But the North Pole remained an elusive goal. Two other attempts also failed, and Maud retreated with damage to her propeller. Amundsen finally abandoned the expedition in 1925.
Maud was seized by creditors in Seattle and sold at an auction. The Hudson’s Bay Company purchased the ship to supply its Arctic outposts. After refitting in Vancouver, and with a new name, Baymaud sailed for the Western Arctic in June 1926. It never returned. After freezing in for the winter of 1926-1927, the ship was moored close to shore and used by the Hudson’s Bay Company as a floating machine shop, warehouse and wireless station. Twice a day, the wireless operator, W. G. Crisp, sent out regular weather reports through the R.C.C.S. Mackenzie network. These were the first regular winter reports by radio from Canada’s Arctic coast.
Baymaud developed a leak and sank at its anchorage in the winter of 1930. A small portion of the ship remained above the ice and water, and the masts, rigging and cabins were stripped from the hull. The rest of the ship was allowed to settle into the water. Today, only a small area of the wreck’s starboard side rises above the waves. The rest of the ship lies in seven metres of frigid water.
The wreck, largely intact after 66 years on the ocean bottom, is beginning to fall apart, and experts fear that within the next two to five years Baymaud will disintegrate. But the icy waters of the Arctic have preserved paint on the hull, rope and barrels inside the ship’s forecastle, and details such as the ship’s signal letters and tonnage carved on the match hatch beam. The team discovered the ship’s steering gear lying on the remains of the deck, the anchor chain running out of the bow and on to the bottom, the stub of a mast lying against the hull, and machinery toppled in the hold. The engine, a 240-horsepower, four cylinder diesel, still sits in the engine room.
St Roche Historical sources had hinted that Baymaud had inspired the design of St. Roch. Architect Tom Hallidie, who designed St. Roch, supervised the refit of Maud and drew plans of the Norwegian vessel in February 1926. Two years later, he was handed the task of designing an Arctic schooner for the Mounties. Maud’s hull and fittings had survived years of heavy ice during Amundsen’s expedition, and so Hallidie copied the ship’s lines and several construction details while planning St. Roch. These included a round, egg-shaped hull, thick ironwood planks that formed an extra layer of ice sheathing on the hull, a large cabin aft, a single-screw diesel engine, a rudder that could be lifted up through a special well to avoid being snapped off by ice, and thick beams to brace the hold against the crushing pressure of ice floes. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police schooner, St. Roch, is now a National Historic Site preserved ashore at the Vancouver Maritime Museum. St. Roch, under the command of Henry A. Larsen, was the second ship to navigate the Northwest Passage (1940-1942), and the first to transit the passage’s more northerly route (1944).
The team, led by underwater archaeologist James Delgado, Vancouver Maritime Museum, included Robert Delgado, Michael Paris, Jacques Marc and David Stone from the Underwater Archaeological Society of British Columbia. The project was funded by the territorial Department of Economic Development and Tourism. Drawings, photographs and underwater video footage of the wreck will form part of a new display at the Arctic Coast Visitor Centre in Cambridge Bay.
Mount Pelly Territorial Park, Cambridge Bay
A survey of the proposed Mount Pelly Territorial Park, east of Cambridge Bay, was conducted by Andrew Stewart for Avens Associates of Yellowknife and the territorial Department of Economic Development and Tourism. Local initiative to establish a Natural Environment Park has lead to a series of coordinated studies by separate investigators on archaeological heritage, oral history, and botany.
Four people, including field assistants Richard Epelon and Bert Maksagak of Cambridge Bay, walked much of the 16 square km park area. Coverage was concentrated on lake edges around the base of the esker that forms Mount Pelly and level terraces associated with marine strandlines that encircle the esker. More than 100 surface features were found, including over forty tent rings and tent rectangles, more than 30 caches, and 16 shelters or waiting places. Most of these features lie near the base of the esker or on the lowermost strandlines. Many of the caches are small (less than a metre square) and carefully built as if they were intended for reuse. One small boulder feature contained the bones of at least two loons but it is unclear whether the birds had originally been placed there or just the bones. Future research, particularly oral history, will focus partially on the use of these features. Few artifacts predating the 1960s were found. One of the artifacts is a lance or spear head made from iron, brass, wood and repaired with twine. No stone tools were found. Although Thule fall and winter houses and Palaeo-Eskimo artifacts have been found within 10 km of Mount Pelly, no similar structures were found during this survey. It may be that Mount Pelly was used for thousands of years but mostly during the warm season as a place where people waited for game and caught waterfowl and fish.
Oral history is also being recorded as part of the overall investigation of Mount Pelly coordinated by Avens Associates. Consultation with elders in Cambridge Bay (which occurred before and immediately after the survey and which is continuing under the direction of historian David Pelly) provided evidence for interpreting some of the boulder features as possible equipment or winter clothing caches. Some preliminary findings of the oral history research suggest that people fished in the Mount Pelly area during late spring and early summer while moving inland from their winter camps on the sea ice to the south. It may be possible to explain the large number of caches in the context of this seasonal pattern of movement. Results of the oral history research will be integrated into the interpretation of archaeological features in the proposed park to show the history and land use of this area by Kiilinikmeot, the people living on Victoria Island.
Davidson Point, Frobisher Bay
Robert W. Park of the University of Waterloo, with a crew of six, spent three weeks excavating one of the three winter houses at a small Thule site on Davidson Point, just across the Sylvia Grinnell River from Iqaluit. One goal of the research project was to learn if there are any differences in the way small groups of people like those who lived at the Davidson Point site spent the winter when compared to the larger groups that inhabited some nearby Thule winter sites. Another goal was to learn exactly how all the animal bones came to be in the house. Were they all from animals hunted by the occupants of the house, or were some of the bones put into the house pit long after it had been abandoned? Our attempt to answer these questions required the unusually meticulous mapping of over 1100 individual pieces of bone from the house, in addition to the artifacts.
Nunavik, Hudson Bay
Avataq Cultural Institute carried out four projects headed by Daniel Gendron. Two of these projects were held at Inukjuak. Two Dorset sites were partially excavated; IcGm-5 was also used as a field school for Inuit students. The third one was a preliminary survey of the Hopewell Islands near Inukjuak, and the fourth comprised the evaluation of the Qajartalik petroglyph site, and preliminary survey of Whitley and Joy Bays, southeast of Kangiqsujuaq.
The principal objective of the survey of five of the Hopewell islands, near Inukjuak, was to identify Thule winter dwellings, which are at present not known on the mainland in this region. Two such sites were discovered (IbFk-3 and IcGn-11). Other sites were identified and/or reassessed, including Dorset occupations (IcGn-6, 8, 9, and 10), possible non-winter Thule occupations (IbGk-4, IcGn-12, and IcGn-1), Historic Inuit sites (IcGn-7, 14, IbGk-1, 2, 6, IbGl-1, 2, 3, 4), and one site of undetermined origin (IbGk-5). In addition, the crew identified two heavily used siltite quarries on Patterson Island and Harrison Island, both at 20 metres above sea level. The quarry at Patterson Island also contains two semi-subterranean winter dwellings of Dorset origin. Siltite is the predominant raw material found on both IcGm-5 and 36, and in several other Dorset sites in the area. The Patterson quarry itself is approximately 500 metres in length, and evidence of use was found on its entire length. Finally, a qaggiq first identified by Daniel Weetaluktuk in the late 1970s was relocated on Harrison Island. Other similarly huge structures have been observed at the same site (IcGn-12).
Avataq also conducted project on the petroglyph sites of the Kangiqsujuaq region. The Qajartalik site (JhEv-2), first identified in the early 1960s, was the main object. Other petroglyph sites had been reported, but were not relocated. Once back in the community, the researcher met with Naalak Nappaaluk, who had accompanied Saladin d’Anglure in the early 1960s. He indicated the real location of two other soapstone quarries where engravings had been observed. They should be visited next summer.
An assessment of the state of preservation of the Qajartalik site was also made. Although some modern graffiti has been observed, the extent of damage appears to be minimal, but natural erosion has had a negative impact on some of the petroglyphs. The petroglyphs have been engraved in soapstone outcrops, in part explaining their precarious state. Preliminary observation permitted the identification of over 100 engravings on three large outcrops. All engravings represent human-like faces, and are reminiscent of Late Dorset artistic expression.
Alongside the petroglyph project, a preliminary survey was carried out on Qajartalik and Qikertaaluk Islands, which yielded 30 new sites from Pre-Dorset to post-contact times. One of the Pre-Dorset sites might even be Independence I. In addition to these new sites, ten more were observed at Burgoyne Bay and Aivirtuuq for a total of 42 new sites in five days of survey. A dozen more were marked on a map by Naalak and Lucassie Nappaaluk.
One site is also worth mentioning, because of an unusual feature. JhEv-11 is located on Qikertaluk Island. The main feature is a rock alignment 60 metres long and curving slightly northward. Two huge circles of rock delineate both extremities. At present, its function remains unknown, but it was suggested that it could be the remnants of a field game. Several artifacts of Dorset origin were observed in one sand deflation, about 40 metres to the southeast of the alignment.
Two field schools were held this summer. The first was a high school course offered at the Grade 10 and Grade 11 levels. The second was a university course offered through McGill University and Arctic College to local teachers working towards their Bachelor of Education degrees. Students on both courses participated in the continuing excavation of a Late Dorset dwelling with axial feature, pot stand and fire pit. The excavation of this feature was completed this summer and the feature was backfilled. Remarkable finds included: a complete copper needle, an erotic carving of a couple caught in the act, a man/bear transformation carving, and pieces of a large soapstone pot.
The field work included both Pre-Dorset survey and excavation. Students on the field courses assisted in the former work. There are currently plans to resurface and possibly extend the current airplane runway. Quarry locations were selected to provide the gravel for the runway. The archaeologists worked with the territorial Department of Transportation to ensure that no archaeological sites would be affected by quarrying. The initial area surveyed and sampled for gravel proved to contain seven Pre-Dorset sites consisting of over 100 features. The crew then surveyed an adjoining area which proved to have no archaeological sites. As a result, a new quarry location was selected.
When the airport runway is extended to permit jet service to the community four Pre-Dorset sites will be destroyed. Last summer, the students sketch mapped these sites. This summer, they excavated two Pre-Dorset tent rings. Several students on the McGill-Arctic College course excavated Feature 4 at the Pre-Dorset site of NiHf-67. The other feature excavated was Feature 1 at a new site provisionally labelled 96/Site 5. The purpose of these excavations was to salvage the material and to provide a time estimate for the complete excavation of the sites that will be destroyed.
Auyuittuq National Park Reserve, Baffin Island
Northern and New Parks Archaeologist Deborah Webster (Parks Canada, Yellowknife) conducted an archaeological survey of Maktaatujana in Auyuittuq National Park Reserve, southwest of Broughton Island. Tina Price of Iqaluit assisted in the survey as did Park Warden David Kooneeliusie and Park Patrol Persons Jason Aliqatuqtuq and Robbie Kudlualik of Broughton Island.
Before beginning the fieldwork, the archaeologist met with the Broughton Island Hamlet Council, Sapputiit Elders Committee, Hunters and Trappers Association, Auyuittuq National Park Reserve Advisory Board and park staff. Project plans were discussed and information was shared on site locations, current use of the study area, types of cultural resources to be found and Inuktitut names for these features.
The objective of the archaeological survey was to record new sites and to evaluate the condition of known sites so that the state of these cultural resources could be monitored. There was no excavation of sites and artifacts were not collected. Most sites encountered are temporary camps and were occupied recently. The Inuktitut name Maktaatujana means “the place where there is plenty of whale skin.” In the fall people from Broughton Island hunt narwhal and other sea mammals there. A known Thule site was also revisited.
In the winter the archaeologist will meet again with community groups to present a draft report, verify information and discuss results of the survey. The information gathered will also be incorporated into a computerized cultural resource management database to provide current information on site resources, assessments and vulnerability.
A survey of the lower Kazan River was conducted by Andrew Stewart in part of the proposed Fall Caribou Crossing National Historic Site area, between Thirty Mile Lake and Kazan Falls. The survey was commissioned by Baker Lake’s Harvaqtuuq Historic Site Committee, chaired by Joan Scottie. It follows a detailed place name study of this area by the Harvaqtuurmiut Elders, Darren Keith, Joan Scottie and Ruby Mautara’inaaq (Parks Canada, Canadian Heritage). The inventory of cultural features resulting from this and previous archaeological work will help to document the importance of fall caribou hunting in the lives of the Harvaqtuurmiut and other groups who lived around the Kazan River.
Archaeological features (structures and artifacts) were described, photographed and precisely mapped by a field crew of four people (Roy Avaala from Baker Lake and Andrew Stewart, Max Friesen and Lyle Henderson all from Ontario). The task of recording the locations of features was accomplished with Global Positioning System (GPS) equipment (employing differential correction) and Geographic Information System (GIS) software. This equipment made it possible to record locations to the nearest metre. The system was set up and operated by Parks Canada archaeologist Lyle Henderson and technician Dan Paget, both working full-time on this task.
Information about animal bone in archaeological contexts was also documented. Zoo archaeologist Max Friesen of the University of Toronto made observations in the field on type, context and condition of animal bone. Preliminary results suggest that there are some unusual contexts for the survival of caribou bone visible on the ground surface. The bone has the potential to provide a more complete interpretation of hunting and food preparation and disposal activities at former campsites.
About half the proposed historic site area along both sides of the Kazan River (a linear distance of about 30 km) was investigated during three weeks in August. More than a thousand features were recorded this year, including tent rings, qarmaq rings, hearths, caches, standing boulders, hunting blinds or waiting places, graves, qajaq stands, boulder traps, artifact and bone concentrations and other, unidentified boulder features. Most of the features occur on the south side of the river, the side towards which people expected caribou to swim during fall migration and where most settlement occurred, according to Harvaqtuurmiut elders who lived along this part of the river until the 1950s. Two inuksuit drive systems were found at different places on the north side of the river. Evidence of pre-contact settlement consisted of two quartzite projectile points (possibly Pre-Dorset or Thaltheilei) and numerous quartzite bifaces.
The work of this cultural resource inventory within the proposed historic site boundaries continues. The upper part of this area, including the east half of Thirty Mile Lake, remains to be surveyed, as does the interior, up to 10 km inland from the river. Detailed investigations of specific features may resolve the question of the age of some of the qarmat which are unusually large and appear to be older than many of the tent rings. The result of this work will be a comprehensive database of archaeological features, showing their locations and condition and incorporating photographs. This will be used by the Harvaqtuuq Historic Site Committee and Parks Canada to monitor archaeological features and to aid in presentation and interpretation of the history of this area.
Northwest of Contwoyto Lake
Gloria Fedirchuk of Fedirchuk McCullough and Associates Ltd., Calgary conducted a survey of the area proposed for the Jericho Mine (Lytton Minerals) located northwest of Contwoyto Lake. The study area consists of a variety of land forms including eskers, lake environments, and bedrock hills. A few selected locations along a potential all-weather road between the Jericho Project and Lupin Mine were also examined for archaeological materials. Terrain inspected along the proposed road included eskers, bedrock outcrops, and shore of Contwoyto Lake. Inuit elders from Coppermine visited the Carat Lake camp and were shown some of the sites.
Thirty-four sites were identified. All were exposed either through wind action and animal use of eskers or in bedrock localities. Twenty-four of these are located in the immediate vicinity of the mine and associated facilities. The remaining ten were identified in areas along the potential road route. Eleven of the sites represent single artifact finds. The artifacts at these sites range from unmodified flake discards, to cores from which flakes were detached, to tools. Seventeen sites are artifact scatters consisting primarily of flake discards. Two sites have been identified as camps because of the presence of tools commonly associated with camping activities or evidence of cooking activities. The remaining four sites are quarries associated with veins of quartz in bedrock exposures.
West of Walmsley Lake
An overview of the potential facility locations associated with the Kennaday Project (Mountain Province Mining Inc.) located west of Walmsley Lake was conducted by Gloria Fedirchuk of Fedirchuk McCullough and Associates Ltd. of Calgary. Specifically, a potential road route over bedrock outcrops, alternate all-weather road routes, two possible airstrip locations, and a portion of an esker which may be used for borrow material. Ernest Betsina of the Yellowknives Dene participated in part of the field work.
Three sites were identified in association with the esker system. One consists of an historic site containing axe-cut spruce and a related circular stone hearth feature. The remaining two sites contain primarily stone flake discards. One of these sites is located on the top of the esker whereas the other is on the shore of a small lake adjacent to the esker.
North of Lac de Gras
Jean Bussey of Points West Heritage Consulting Ltd., Langley, B.C. conducted an assessment north of Lac de Gras for BHP NWT Diamonds. Malcolm James, also of Points West, Jonas Lafferty, of the Dogrib Nation, and Brian Tobie, of the Yellowknives Dene Nation assisted with the field survey.
In 1994 and 1995, examination of proposed development areas had resulted in the recording of 62 new sites. In 1996, 25 new sites were added to the inventory of this area; in addition, most of the sites recorded in 1994 and 1995 were revisited during the 1996 investigations.
The emphasis of this project has been on surveying areas near proposed development and exploration. As a result, the shores of large and small lakes and a variety of different landform types have been examined. Repeatedly in the three years of field investigation, the results have indicated that the larger, more continuous eskers have the greatest potential to yield archaeological sites, especially near medium and large lakes. Sites are found on smaller, less continuous sections of esker and on other landform types, but not with the same frequency.
The sites found in 1996 were scattered throughout the claim block. Nine sites were found near previously recorded sites. They were all located on eskers; one on the south side of Exeter Lake, one south of the mine camp and north of Lac de Gras, four on the large esker west of Lac du Sauvage, and three near an unnamed lake in the northeastern portion of the study area.
New areas of investigation yielded 16 sites. Examination of a small portion of a large north-south oriented esker yielded three new sites, while investigations of two sections of an associated east-west esker yielded an additional three sites. The former esker was paralleled by a section of the Coppermine River and contained a very large site. Three more sites were discovered on a section of esker north of Ursula Lake and four on another esker west of Ursula Lake that, although discontinuous, eventually connects with Exeter Lake. Another esker that connects with Exeter Lake, but further south, yielded two more new sites.
Investigations of limited sections of lake shore of Lac de Gras and landforms adjacent to a number of smaller, unnamed lakes had generally negative results. One site was found in association with a small lake near the more southerly Exeter Lake esker. This site was unique in that it consisted of a cache of unworked chunks of quartz that were likely collected in order to make stone tools but were never used. All other sites found in 1996 were characterized primarily by unworked stone flakes; these sites ranged in size from very small to very large and contained light to dense concentrations of artifacts. A number of sites contained one or more stone tools and all but one site appeared to be pre-contact in time. The one exception was a site that contained a very light scatter of flakes and one chunk of firewood that had obviously been imported to the area and could represent post-contact or modern use.
Echo Bay Mines Ltd., based at Lupin, is undertaking the development of a new mine near Ulu Lake, north of the Hood River. Preparatory to the development, the company commissioned an archaeological impact assessment of the mine locality and the potential winter haul road routes. This assessment was conducted by Sid Kroker, Quaternary Consultants Ltd. of Winnipeg, Manitoba.
Due to logistics, the project was divided into two phases: Phase I was the investigation of the mine locality and Phase II was the investigation of potential haul route corridors. During Phase I, portions of the north and south banks of the Hood River were examined as well as the mine locality and permanent camp. The mine locality is a massive glacially-modified, bedrock outcrop with little inducement for animal or human use. The survey of the Hood River recorded two sites – a chipping station and an occupation site which contained a fragment of a projectile point tentatively identified as Thaltheilei (ca. A.D. 100 to 1000). The site, revisited during Phase II, also contained a complete projectile point identified as Dorset (ca. 200 BC to 1000 AD.).
The second phase relied heavily on helicopter support and all three route options were overflown with foot survey in areas of high potential, such as river banks, lake shores, and eskers. A total of twenty-one sites were recorded, ranging from an isolated find of an incomplete Northern Plano projectile point (more than 5000 years old), to chipping stations, to multiple occupation tent ring sites, to a biological field camp (ca. A.D. 1960). Several of the tent ring sites contained historic material indicating probable occupation after the establishment of trading posts along the coast (A.D. 1916). Many of the sites were located on a major north/south oriented esker northeast of Kathawachaga Lake. This esker would have been a prime location for intercepting the migrating caribou herds, as well as the main travel route between the Hood River to the north and the Burnside River to the south. As well, several sites were recorded on Lake Kathawachaga which is connected to Lake Contwoyto by the Burnside River. Ethnohistorical data show that the Contwoyto/Kathawachaga area was heavily used by people from Coppermine and Bathurst Inlet.
All sites were outside of the corridors of the potential haul roads and no impact is foreseen. If gravel is required for upgrades of the lake/land crossings, there are many sources at the lateral edges of the eskers which will not result in impact upon archaeological sites which are on the crests and upper ridges.
Lac de Gras
Wendy Unfreed and George Chalut, of Fedirchuk McCullough and Associates Ltd., Calgary, conducted a survey of the eastern shore of Lac de Gras, on the eastern mainland and two adjacent islands. The study was assisted by Steven Nitah and George Martin of Detah. The purpose of the study was to continue an examination of the inland areas and eskers that had been initiated in 1995 by Gloria Fedirchuk.
A total of 172 pre-contact activity locales were identified during the study of the three areas. The sites include quarries (88), lithic scatters (68), isolated lithic finds (13), multiple hearth sites (2) and one Pre-Dorset camp. In addition, one set of post-contact travois poles was identified along the shore of an inland lake.
The sites were found to cluster in areas of high relief near inland lake edges or on high bedrock outcrops. Most of the sites were identified on the most central of the two islands studied, and were comprised largely of quartz quarry outcrops surrounded by lithic shatter, debitage and cores. On the remaining island and eastern mainland, quartz scatters were the main activity locale. In addition to these sites, a Pre-Dorset camp was also identified on the mainland, in an eroded sandy area adjacent to the Lac de Gras shoreline. Materials associated with this activity locale consisted of artifacts of fine-grained chert and basalt, and included numerous bifacial thinning flakes, a projectile point, a biface and three scrapers or scraper fragments.
Dogrib elders and Inuit representatives from Kugluktuk examined some of the site areas and share their knowledge about traditional lifestyles. Sites viewed included a meat cache and a possible burial that had been identified in the 1995 survey and the newly-recorded Pre-Dorset camp and quarries.
Roberts Bay, Bathurst Inlet
Gabriella Prager of Points West Heritage Consulting Ltd., Langley, B.C. conducted an inventory and assessment east of Bathurst Inlet. The work was carried out for BHP World Minerals. Specific locations were examined within an area including Roberts Bay and extending approximately 60 km south of Roberts Bay.
Thirty new sites were recorded. Most are situated on elevated ridges or knolls adjacent to water bodies, although some do occur a distance from water or on lower landforms. All are rock feature sites, most with multiple features, including rock rings, hearths/windbreaks, traps, caches, signal rocks and hunting blinds. Some sites contain bone and/or wood artifacts, and most have variable amounts of scattered animal bone consisting largely of caribou and muskox. Historic debris of tin and glass products was also observed at some of the sites. One stone tool was found adjacent to a more recent tent ring site, possibly signifying earlier use of that location.
A brief, but very interesting aspect of the project was a short trip with two Inuit Elders, John Akana of Umingmaktok and Steve Anavilok of Cambridge Bay, to one of the sites found in 1995 on an island in Roberts Bay. They talked about some of the rock features and artifacts, their uses and possible times of use. This helped to provide significant insights into aspects of past life ways.
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 communication).
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.
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.
Grizzly Bear Mountain and Scented Grass Hills
A survey was conducted along the shores of Great Bear Lake from Keith Arm to McVicar Arm of Grizzly Bear Mountain, and from Deerpass Bay to Douglas Bay along the shores of the Scented Grass Hills. This was the second year of a two-year project initiated in 1995. The survey consisted of the mapping and recording of 51 previously unrecorded sites and revisiting 3 known sites. It was intended to supplement the survey done by Chris Hanks and people from the Deline Dene Band during the previous summer. Elders from Deline were interviewed and recorded to gather Dene place names, legends, stories and significance of numerous locations. Assistance for the survey was provided by Leroy Andre, Paul Baton, Alfred Taniton, Jacqueline Kenny, David Tetso, and Jason Baton from the community of Deline, and directed by Rod Pickard with assistance by Stephen Toews (both of Parks Canada, Yellowknife).
The survey is one of the final stages of a research project sponsored by the Deline Band and Parks Canada in preparation for the potential designation of Grizzly Bear Mountain and the Scented Grass Hills as a National Historic Site. Collaboration between the community of Deline and Parks Canada started in 1990, when preliminary oral history studies were undertaken. The project continued in 1991 with a study on the traditional geography of Keith and McVicar Arms of Great Bear Lake. That work provided the basis for the archaeological survey that was conducted in 1995 and 1996.
Planning for the designation of Grizzly Bear Mountain and the Scented Grass Hills has proceeded at a pace set by the community of Deline. Plans for historic site commemoration and interpretation have been done in conjunction with the provisions of the Sahtu Dene and Metis Comprehensive Land Claim Agreement. With the claim in place and the necessary background information collected, the community has sent a proposal forward to the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada for consideration at its meeting in November 1996 in Ottawa.
At the request of the Chief and Council of the Deline Dene Band, Tom Andrews, Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre, undertook a week-long heritage resource impact assessment of the proposed site of a new hotel in the community of Deline. The proposed development, located across the road from the site of Sir John Franklin’s 1825-26 Winter Quarters, was considered at risk because of its proximity to the Franklin site. With assistance from Kirk Dolphus and Francis Yukon of the community, a series of shovel test pits were excavated in the development area. The test excavations revealed no significant heritage resources.
Once the assessment was complete the team inspected the archaeological site (LhRk-5) located on the opposite side of the community. Here, housing development has threatened, and partially destroyed six house foundations, which according to community elders date from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The remains of an additional five house structures were located bringing the total to eleven. This site, tentatively called ‘Old Deline’, may provide important clues to the early history of the community, and it was recommended that further development be halted. Later we visited the abandoned cemetery. The crew recorded the site of the abandoned cemetery, located about 1.5 km northeast of the community on maps to ensure that it too, will be protected from future development.
Tsiigehnjik Ethnoarchaeology Project
The Gwich’in Social and Cultural Institute conducted a second season of excavations at MeTp-4, a traditional Gwich’in campsite located at Martin Zheh (Martin House) on Tsiigehnjik , the Arctic Red River, a major tributary of the Mackenzie River. Situated at the mouth of an unnamed creek, the site contains over two metres of silt deposits, visible as light and dark bands in the river bank. Gwich’in tradition tells us that this site was used seasonally during spring and fall journeys between the Mackenzie River and the mountains to the south. The site is important because it documents these seasonal camps and provides some evidence of how Euro-Canadian technologies were integrated into traditional Gwich’in life ways over the last 200 years.
A Gwich’in crew, under the direction of Eric Damkjar (ERD Heritage Consulting, Edmonton) completed excavation of a 3 by 7 metre block to a depth of one metre. Five cultural layers were investigated, ranging in age from approximately the late 1700s to the early 1900s. Each contains animal bones and a variety of artifacts concentrated around fire places which show up as patches of white ash and charcoal. The earliest layers contain traditional Gwich’in tools, such as bone arrow heads, an antler fish hook, bone and antler fleshers for scraping hides, and many flakes from stone tool manufacture. Along with these, we have found an iron knife blade, pieces of sheet copper, probably from a kettle, a copper snowshoe needle, and a variety of glass beads. Above this, in the more recent layers, we recovered different styles of glass beads, buttons, cloth, square iron nails, sheet copper rolled into a tube, part of a glass medicine bottle, lead shot and percussion caps from muzzle-loading guns, and a rabbit snare made from thin copper wire. Although bone and stone tool manufacture continued, it appears to have been less significant than in earlier years. Large amounts of birch bark, on the other hand, show the lasting importance of this material.
The thousands of animal bones found with these artifacts include muskrat, beaver, hare, caribou, ducks, geese, and fish, chiefly jackfish (pike) and loche (burbot). We expect analysis of these remains to tell us at what time of year people camped here and to show whether the fur trade and changing technology had an effect on people’s hunting and fishing activities at Martin House.
Although this was not a formal field school, an important goal was to provide Gwich’in individuals with training and hands-on experience in archaeology. The enthusiasm this project generated among its ten crew members builds on the continuing work of the Gwich’in Social and Cultural Institute.