Archaeological Fieldwork Reports for 1999
- Jean Bussey, Points West Heritage Consulting Limited, Langley, British Columbia
- Gloria Fedirchuk, Fedirchuk McCullough and Associates Limited, Calgary, Alberta
- Max Friesen, Department of Anthropology, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario
- Brian Ronaghan, Golder Associates, Calgary, Alberta
- Callum Thomson, Jacques Whitford Environment Limited, Calgary, Alberta
All reports compiled and edited by Margaret Bertulli, Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre
Cache Point, Mackenzie Delta
Max Friesen NWT Archaeologists Permit 1999-883
The summer of 1999 marked the final field season of the Qilalugaq Archaeology Project, a three-year study of the Cache Point site on Richards Island in the Mackenzie Delta, Northwest Territories. Max Friesen of the University of Toronto was joined by a crew of seven, including six students from Tuktoyaktuk and Toronto, as well as Rose Scott, the conservator from the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre in Yellowknife. During the summer, the crew was visited by many travellers who passed the site on the busy Inuvik-Tuktoyaktuk boating route, and by a film crew from the Inuvialuit Communications Society.
During the three years of the project, the Cache Point site was mapped and four houses were completely excavated, including entrance tunnels, middens (garbage heaps), and kitchen structures. The artifacts and animal bones from the houses are currently being studied, and a detailed picture of early Inuvialuit lifeways in the Mackenzie Delta is being formed. Three of the four excavated houses were occupied during a fairly brief period, probably between about 500 and 600 years ago.
These houses all contain very similar sets of artifacts, including plain pottery fragments, many fish hooks, and arrowheads of a special type known as “ringed tang” because of a carefully manufactured ring which allowed the arrowheads to be attached to wooden shafts. Trade goods are abundant, with both copper and soapstone occurring in high frequencies. The fourth house contained quite different artifacts. Much of its pottery contained intricate circular designs known as “Barrow curvilinear”, and the arrowheads were also different. This house is earlier than the others, probably by about 200 years.
Inuvialuit living at Cache Point lived in substantial driftwood houses excavated into the earth, usually with a single bench at the rear. These houses were entered through very deep entrance tunnels, and cooking was often performed in separate kitchen tents, accessed through special tunnels from the floor of the main house. Beluga whales and fish formed the mainstay of the diet, with other food sources such as caribou, seals, and migratory birds being less important. The early Inuvialuit of Cache Point also maintained active networks of trade and social ties with their neighbours, as indicated by the trade goods. In sum, Cache Point must have been a thriving Inuvialuit community with a rich social and economic life 500 years ago. The site was eventually abandoned, probably because beluga whales no longer ventured up the Mackenzie River as far as Cache Point.
North of Lac de Gras
Jean Bussey, NWT Archaeologists Permit 2000-884
Jean Bussey of Points West Heritage Consulting Ltd., Langley, B.C. directed archaeological investigations for BHP Diamonds Inc. in its claim block north of Lac de Gras. A number of archaeological tours formed part of the 1999 field work. The first tour involved Dogrib elder Edward Camille and his interpreter, Francis Blackduck. The second tour involved four members of the Yellowknives Dene First Nation: Mike Francois, Barney Masuzumi, Alfred Liske and Pete Martin. The third tour involved Pierre and Bertha Catholique of the community of Lutsel k’e.
Numerous sites were revisited and several new sites were discovered during these tours.
As part of the 1999 field work, a number of sites were revisited to determine if they were within the boundaries of the BHP claim block. One site at the east end of Lac de Gras (at the narrows) and five sites along the Coppermine River west of Lac de Gras were revisited and updated information was collected. There is good potential for additional sites in both these areas and one new site was discovered at each location.
Sixteen other sites were discovered in 1999. Most are located in a central portion of the BHP claim block, north of the BHP mine known as Ekati. This brings the total of sites within the BHP claim block to 150 sites. The new sites are primarily surface scatters containing flakes of stone. Most are located in association with eskers or esker remnants and most are adjacent to lakes, but one was found at the narrows of Lac de Gras. Most of the sites in the BHP claim block are sufficiently distant from proposed development activity that they are easily avoidable; surface collection was undertaken at two sites threatened by a proposed road.
Lac de Gras
Gloria Fedirchuk, NWT Archaeologists Permit 1999-891
Gloria Fedirchuk and Wendy Unfreed (Fedirchuk McCullough & Associates Ltd., Calgary, Alberta) and assistants Edith Basil (Lutsel k’e First Nation) and Leroy Bloomstrand, (North Slave Metis Association) conducted a survey of potential borrow sources on the eastern shore of Lac de Gras on behalf of Diavik Diamond Mine Inc.
The potential borrow sources were on a prominent esker, on which the road to the airstrip associated with the Lac de Gras camp is located. Lac de Gras lies to the west of the study area.
Four sites were found during the field survey. One (LcNs-136) consists of an isolated flake of basalt, two are artifact scatters (LcNs-134, LcNs-135), and one is a large campsite (LcNs-133).
The isolated find occurred on a narrow bench on the north slope of the prominent esker whereas one of the artifact scatters (LcNs-134) was found along the access road on top of the esker. Although the isolated find was exposed by natural processes, LcNs-134 has been disturbed through construction and maintenance of the access road.
The remaining two sites are associated with the low esker knoll to the north. On the north side was another artifact scatter. This site, LcNs-135, had been exposed in an old bulldozer cut. Although testing on the site did not reveal any artifacts, it is likely that more intact areas of the site remain. The large campsite, LcNs-133, is situated on an low esker bench extending south from the esker knoll and overlooks an unnamed lake on the east. It has also been exposed as a result of either winter road construction or maintenance, perhaps both. Although not large, this site contains a quantity of material (predominantly artifacts of white quartz). Based on tentative identification of the style of projectile points recovered from LcNs-133 and LcNs-134, the remains appear to relate to occupations as early as 2500 years ago.
Because potential borrow activities may occur during the winter of 1999-2000, controlled surface collection was conducted at each of the sites. In addition to the single flake collected from LcNs-136, 126 artifacts were collected from LcNs-135, 155 artifacts were collected from LcNs-134, and over 6000 were collected from LcNs-133. Limited shovel testing was also carried out to determine whether subsurface remains were present, the extent of such remains, and the depth at which they occurred. Intact remains were found only at site LcNs-133.
Mackay Lake to Kennady Lake
Callum Thomson, NWT Archaeologists Permit 1999-887
Callum Thomson, archaeologist with Jacques Whitford Environment Limited, Calgary, Alberta conducted a heritage resources inventory and preliminary impact assessment for Monopros Limited, a Canadian diamond exploration firm with a regional office in Yellowknife. Callum Thomson and seven Yellowknives Dene from Dettah and N’Dilo canoed the 60 km from MacKay Lake to Munn Lake following the ice route used by the company in the winter of 1999 to transport materials to and from the Monopros exploration area at Gahcho Kué. Thirty-two new archaeological sites were recorded. The final phase of the work was a continuation of the canoe survey, from Margaret Lake to Gahcho Kué, a distance of 60 km. Callum, two members of the North Slave Metis Alliance and two residents of Lutsel k’e found a further 18 sites. Most of the total of 50 new sites contained evidence of use before the presence of Europeans, such as quartz and quartzite tools and remains of tool-making. One of the most interesting and potentially informative sites included a toboggan or komatik, with antler sled runners, a rectangular tent ring, and the remains of two sets of tent poles. This and most of the other sites appeared to have been located for observation or interception of caribou, commonly on elevated knolls and terraces overlooking a lake or river where caribou would cross in spring or fall, and could be hunted in the water. Others also seemed to have access to good fishing places. Many of the sites were found in clusters, with several located within a few hundred metres of each other, often around a lake narrows or in association with an esker. Some were situated where shelter from the wind, behind an esker may have been another reason why people chose to live there. One site was situated where exploration drilling had taken place, and several sites were located on the winter access route or at construction camp sites. While disturbance at these sites seems to have been minimal, it does indicate a strong need to conduct surveys of this type before the construction and use of winter ice routes.
Callum Thomson, NWT Archaeologists Permit 1999-888
Callum Thomson, archaeologist with Jacques Whitford Environment Limited, Calgary, Alberta conducted a heritage resources inventory for Monopros Limited, a Canadian diamond exploration firm with a regional office in Yellowknife. The project involved a 10-day boat and foot survey around Gahcho Kué (Kennady Lake), during which 44 new sites were found by Callum Thomson, Lorna Catholique and Lawrence Catholique, residents of Lutsel k’e. Most of the total of 44 new sites contained evidence of use before the presence of Europeans, such as quartz and quartzite tools and tool-making debris. Several sites were located where quartz veins or quartz and quartzite boulders were present with, in most cases, clear evidence of extraction and use of these materials. Three sites contained features showing traditional use during the last two centuries or so: axe-cut wood and trees, a camp site located in a small stand of spruce trees, and part of a fox trap. Apart from the traditional use sites, which were probably associated with winter trapping, most of the sites appeared to have been located for observation or interception of caribou, commonly on elevated knolls and terraces overlooking a lake or river where caribou would cross in spring or fall, and could be hunted in the water. This was found to correspond with migration routes traced during wildlife studies. Many of these pre-contact sites were found in clusters, with 5-8 located within a few hundred metres of each other, often around a lake narrows or in association with an esker. One site was situated where exploration drilling had taken place by the firm which had held the lease before Monopros, and several showed evidence of having had till samples extracted by exploration geologists. While displacement of archaeological materials at these sites seems to have been minimal, the finding of so many sites does support Monoprosµ commitment to conduct surveys of this type during the exploration stage to ensure that heritage resources are identified and safeguarded.
Fisherman Lake Area
Brian Ronaghan, NWT Archaeologists Permit 2000-899
Chevron Canada Resources plans to construct a 36-km pipeline in the Franklin Mountains near Fort Liard. The pipeline would join an existing well south of Mount Flett and the Westcoast Transmission pipeline north of Fisherman Lake, near Pointed Mountain. An alternate route for the project would involve an 8.5- km pipeline, north from the well to a Ranger Oil P66A pipeline just east of a saddle in the Liard Range. Brian Ronaghan of Golder Associates and Brian Hope and Julian Sassie of Fort Liard examined areas proposed for development for sites of archaeological and cultural interest.
The routes parallel the base of the eastern slopes of the mountains before crossing the southern part of the range to descend into the Fisherman Lake basin. Many sites are known to occur around the shores of Fisherman Lake but none of these will be affected because the pipeline is planned for areas north and east of the lake.
The areas examined occur in dense forest, with several deeply cut stream valleys. No new archaeological sites were found but a traditional tent frame campsite was recorded along the northern alternate pipeline. This camp was used for fall hunting by the Johnny Klondike Jr. family in the 1980s. The pipeline route will be altered to avoid this site. The community advisors for this project indicated that most traditional use of the area took place on the shores of Fisherman Lake or along the Liard River and that there is little chance that the pipeline will affect important sites or areas.
Fort Liard Area
Brian Ronaghan, NWT Archaeologists Permit 1999-890
Paramount Resources Ltd. proposes to construct and operate the ·Liard Pipeline Project in the Liard Valley, located approximately 25 km south of the community of Fort Liard. This project consists of a series of gas flowlines (total 15 km) from eight well sites situated on a high, forested ridge and a 24-km long pipeline to the Maxhamish gas plant in British Columbia.. Paramount also plans to build an access road from Fort Liard to the well sites that includes a bridge over the Pettitot River. Brian Ronaghan of Golder Associates, Calgary and Louie Betthale of Fort Liard examined areas proposed development areas for sites of archaeological and cultural interest. Mr. Betthale is an elder in the Fort Liard community and his family traps the area that will be affected by the southern portion of the pipeline.
One previously recorded archaeological site (JbRu- 4) in the hamlet of Fort Liard was revisited and assessed in relation to the proposed bridge and road. Two new prehistoric sites and three sites relating to traditional hunting and recreational use of the area by members of the Fort Liard community were recorded. JbRu-4 is one of a series of locations recorded in Fort Liard that confirm the area has been a traditional settlement area for thousands of years. This site has been heavily disturbed by road and airstrip construction and is of limited scientific value. The first new site is a disturbed campsite on the shores of a small lake and will be avoided by the pipeline proposed for the area. The second new site consists of a few stone artifacts that probably represent a short stop during travel along one of the small creeks in the area.
The traditional use sites consist of: a small tent-like brush structure relating to an winter overnight stop while working a trapline; two platform caches for smoked meat probably used recently by the Bertrand family of Fort Liard (Louie Betthale, personal communication); and a brush covered tipi along the shores of a small lake probably used by local youths for weekend camping. The pipeline has been rerouted to avoid the last two of these sites. These sites provide physical evidence that the area west of the Petitiot River is still used by members of the Fort Liard community for traditional hunting, trapping and general recreation.