Archaeological Fieldwork Reports for 2001
Archaeological Investigations conducted along the Tibbitt to Contwoyto Winter Road
Jean Bussey (NWT Archaeologists Permit 2001-906)
Jean Bussey of Points West Heritage Consulting Ltd. directed archaeological investigations for a Joint Venture Project involving the Tibbitt to Contwoyto (formerly the Lupin) winter road. This was basically a post-construction assessment necessitated by increased road activity and the fact that the existing Licence of Occupation will expire in 2003. There was no requirement for an archaeological study prior to the first use of this approximately twenty-year-old winter road. The Joint Venture partners wished to conduct sufficient background studies in advance of their application for renewal of the licence. Archaeological work represented one component of this multi-disciplinary program. Gabriella Prager, Carol Rushworth and Robert Lackowicz, representing Points West, and Mike Francois (Yellowknives Dene First Nation) and Len Turner (North Slave Metis Alliance) assisted with field investigations. The fieldwork consisted of an archaeological inventory of the existing winter road and adjacent areas, as well as associated gravel pits and camps.
During the archaeological inventory, 55 new archaeological sites were discovered and 14 previously recorded sites were revisited. Stone tools or the fragments (flakes) removed during the manufacture of stone tools are characteristic of most sites, but a number contained a single tent ring. The majority of the artifacts are white or gray quartz, but specimens of chert, siltstone, basalt and sandstone were also recovered. Six of the new sites were found in Nunavut Territory and the remaining 49 were in the Northwest Territories. All 14 previously recorded sites were in the NWT. Several sites in both territories contained tools suggestive of the Arctic Small Tool tradition. Most archaeological sites were located on or adjacent to eskers, but a number were on well-drained deposits associated with large lakes and several were situated near a height of land that provided a strategic viewpoint. A number of sites have been disturbed by construction and use of the Tibbitt to Contwoyto winter road and associated facilities; a few have been destroyed, primarily as a result of gravel pits or camps. Several sites are threatened by continued and increased use of the winter road. Two such sites at one of the gravel pits were tested and visible surface artifacts were collected. No further work is required at these two locations, but other sites will require testing, more detailed excavation and/or surface collection in the near future. Potentially diagnostic tools or specimens of a unique material type were collected from a number of sites and will be analyzed during the winter of 2001-2002.
Archaeological Investigations conducted near Snap Lake in the Northwest Territories
Jean Bussey (Northwest Territories Archaeologists permit 2001-907)
Jean Bussey of Points West Heritage Consulting Ltd. directed archaeological investigations for De Beers Canada Mining Inc. at Snap Lake, approximately 200 km northeast of Yellowknife. Bonnie Campbell, of Points West and Frank Basil, from the community of Lutsel K’e, assisted with the field investigations. The majority of the fieldwork was completed in early July, but additional archaeological investigations were undertaken in mid-August. This work was conducted under Northwest Territories Archaeologists permit 2001-907. Bussey had previously conducted studies at Snap Lake in 1998 and 1999; eleven archaeological sites were discovered during these investigations, most are associated with a large esker south of the Snap Lake property.
The work in 2001 was in response to new developments and the expansion of the mine footprint. In addition, a number of previously recorded sites located in the vicinity of the winter road that connects with the Lupin Road were revisited and assessed and the winter road to a gravel pit south of the Snap Lake property was examined. One new archaeological site was found on the south shore of the west arm of Snap Lake (Figure 1), within the area of the expanded mine footprint. It is a small lithic scatter located on a point of land that extends north into the lake; a small island is located to the northeast. No sites were found along the access road to the gravel pit and borrowing activities conducted in previous winters did not impact the sites near this reserve.
A number of sites were recorded in the vicinity of the Snap Lake winter road connector in 2000, but very few are near the actual road route. All nearby sites were revisited in 2001, as were a number that were further removed. Only one site is sufficiently near that impact is likely to occur. Since KkNv-6 was threatened by impact during future winter seasons, subsurface testing was conducted (Figure 2). The northeast corner of the site yielded a small quantity of buried cultural material in the form of quartz fragments. The surface of the site was intensively examined and all surface artifacts were collected. No further archaeological investigation is required at this site.
Archaeological Investigations Conducted North of Lac De Gras in the Northwest Territories
Jean Bussey (Northwest Territories Archaeologists permit 2001-908)
Jean Bussey of Points West Heritage Consulting Ltd. directed archaeological investigations for BHP Diamonds Inc. in its claim block north of Lac de Gras. Bonnie Campbell of Points West and Robert Beaulieu, a member of the Yellowknives Dene First Nation, assisted. The fieldwork consisted of an archaeological inventory as well as a tour for Edward Camille and his interpreter, Jonas Lafferty, representatives of the Dogrib First Nation. Previously recorded and newly discovered archaeological sites were visited during the tour.
During the archaeological inventory, eight new archaeological sites were discovered, bringing the total number of known sites in the BHP claim block to 170. Stone tools or the fragments (flakes) removed during the manufacture of stone tools characterize the eight new sites. The majority of the artifacts are white or gray quartz, but some chert and siltstone specimens were also discovered. In addition a tent ring and several battered quartz veins were encountered. No development activity has been identified in the vicinity of these sites; thus, there is no potential for conflict.
Two of the new sites were found adjacent to a river flowing into the east side of Achilles Lake in the northeast portion of the BHP claim block. One was associated with an esker and the other with an esker remnant. The other six sites were found at the narrows between Lac de Gras and Lac du Sauvage, in the southeast corner of the claim block. All six are likely associated with caribou hunting since the narrows represents an important caribou crossing. Two sites, one to either side of the narrows, each yielded a small biface suggestive of the Arctic Small Tool tradition. The presence of these artifacts suggests that the narrows represents a significant location utilized through time. There is high potential for additional archaeological sites in this vicinity.
Summary Report on Gahcho Kué and Winter Access Route Continuing Archaeological Investigations, 2001
Callum Thomson (NWT Archaeologists Permit 2001-909)
In July 2001, De Beers Canada Exploration Inc. (DBCE) requested that Jacques Whitford Environment Limited conduct some archaeological investigations of proposed mineral exploration activities in the vicinity of Gahcho Kué, and on parts of the winter access route between MacKay Lake and Gahcho Kué. Archaeologist Callum Thomson and field assistant Henry Basil spent seven days in the area, and found a total of 33 new sites.
Most of our work was concentrated in four activity areas. MZ Lake is an exploration area about 20 km west of Gahcho Kué (Kennady Lake); trenching is contemplated in addition to test drilling in this area, which is located at the centre of the southern half of the claim block. We found four precontact sites around the lake; these consisted of scatters of stone tools, and a recent trapping site. None of the sites were judged to be at risk from the proposed activities. Kelvin and Faraday lakes are approximately 10 km northeast of Gahcho Kué; continuation of mineral exploration activities around the lakes indicated a need for an archaeological survey. Two small sites were found, including a concentration of quartz veins in a bedrock outcrop that had been exploited as a source of material for making stone tools.
We also checked a number of eskers within about 20 km around Gahcho Kué, which we thought might be at risk from future exploitation for sand and gravel for construction of berms and roads, and found 11 new precontact sites and two traditional use sites. Among these 11 sites are several that are quite extensive, indicating a need for land-users to conduct such archaeological assessments of these prominent features before they are exploited for aggregate stockpiling, road construction, mineral exploration and development, and other similar quarrying activities. Eskers provide easy travel routes for caribou and other mammals, and are favoured as denning sites by wolves, foxes, bears, ground squirrels and other mammals. For these reasons, hunters, trappers and travellers seek them out. Sites from all periods are frequently found on the eskers, though more often on level terraces adjacent to eskers, where people took advantage of the shelter in their lee, obtained fuel among the trees and shrubs which grow in their shelter, and camped on the generally dry, well-drained sand and gravel.
Our last target areas were three places where the construction firm working on the winter access route from MacKay Lake to Gahcho Kué had deviated from the past access route because of operational necessity; parts of these deviations had not previously been surveyed. We found a total of 13 new sites on new portages between Reid and Munn lakes, Munn and Margaret lakes, and Margaret and Back lakes, all from the precontact period and mostly on knolls and gravel terraces. Most of these sites appear to have been situated for taking caribou on migration routes crossing lake narrows, river pools and rapids, and on narrow land constrictions between lakes. For the most part, the new routings were good choices, coming no closer than about 50-300 m from these sites, but we did also find that two small sites recorded in previous years had been disturbed by vehicle traffic. This emphasizes the need for an archaeologist to either survey proposed winter access routes to project areas in advance, or at least be part of the planning and field verification process so that areas of high potential can be avoided, where practicable for the safety of construction workers. In this case, the project archaeologist had been part of the initial planning review and selection of the route alignment, but some deviations had subsequently proved necessary due to local conditions.
The most interesting and significant site found during these surveys was a major quartz quarry which covers much of the top of a prominent hill between Margaret and Back lakes – an area of about 55 x 45 m, criss-crossed with deep, wide quartz veins, quartz boulders, and quartz chunks, with lots of evidence of quartz extraction and use. We also found two boulder and slab structures on the summit of the hill, which could be graves, and a low blind or shelter on the south side of the hill. This is a remarkable site that may have supplied many generations of passing aboriginal hunters with raw material.
The conclusions reached were that drilling and trenching should be able to proceed safely in the MZ and Kelvin/Faraday lakes areas, except in the vicinity of known sites. As a general recommendation for all exploration and development projects in this region, exploitation of eskers and other sources of aggregate should always be preceded by an archaeological assessment. Similarly, construction and use of winter access routes should always be preceded by an archaeological assessment, involvement of the archaeologist in the route planning process, and follow-up surveys to verify predictions made on archaeological potential and to initiate mitigation measures where necessary. The fact that DBCE initiates these investigations as part of their due diligence process, in conformance with the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act and regulations, speaks highly of the DBCE commitment to heritage conservation.
The 2001 Mackenzie River Delta Heritage Resource Survey
Don Hanna (NWT Archaeologists Permit 2001-910)
This project was a heritage survey in the Mackenzie River Delta region. AEC West Ltd, Anadarko Resources Ltd, BP Canada Energy Company, Burlington Resources Canada Energy Ltd, Chevron Canada Resources, Conoco Canada Resources Limited, Devon ARL Corporation (formerly Anderson Resources Ltd.), Petro-Canada and Shell Canada Ltd funded the research.
People in the Delta have been worried about possible damage to heritage sites caused by recent seismic exploration and development. This project was carried out to learn if sites were damaged by recent seismic work and to help avoid any future damage. Our study was done in July and September of 2001 and included both Crown and Inuvialuit Private lands within the Mackenzie River Delta. Our work involved helicopter and foot surveys and community consultations and traditional knowledge interviews in the communities of Aklavik, Inuvik, and Tuktoyaktuk. Nothing was collected from any site and no excavations were carried out.
One of our goals was to obtain accurate locations of recorded heritage sites using GPS. Accurate locations mean seismic crews will be able to avoid these sites. Visiting and mapping the locations of 84-recorded sites successfully completed this goal.
Another goal was to look for unknown sites in areas where future developments might occur. We were able to record 175 new sites. These sites include ancient villages, camps and graves, as well as more recent traditional land-use areas. These sites were also mapped using GPS. Another goal was to evaluate damage to sites from recent seismic and drilling programs. Very limited damage to two known sites and one new site was recorded. Accurate locations for sites should ensure that no more damage to known sites occurs. Our final goal was to develop a map-model to help predict the distribution of heritage sites in the Mackenzie River Delta. This model will be used by industry to plan future projects that avoid damage to heritage sites.
This project was very successful in terms of adding new knowledge and in giving industry the tools it needs. The number of recorded heritage sites has tripled and these sites are recorded in a way that will make future avoidance possible. The success of this study is due in part to the assistance, cooperation and encouragement of staff of the Inuvialuit Land Administration, the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre and the people of Aklavik, Inuvik, and Tuktoyaktuk.
Fieldwork at Kitigaaryuit National Historic Site by the Inuvialuit Social Development Program
Elisa Hart (NWT Archaeologists Permit 2001-911)
The Inuvialuit Social Development Program conducted a small-scale field project at Kitigaaryuit National Historic Site in August of 2001. The work consisted of oral history interviews with 5 elders, identifying a number of new cultural remains, and conducting geological assessments of the site. The work was done over a 5-day period. The crew consisted of Steven Solomon of the Geological Survey of Canada, Elisa Hart and James Sydney of the Inuvialuit Social Development Program. James is also a student at the University of Northern British Columbia. Emmanuel Adam of Tuktoyaktuk managed the camp, and John Pokiak and Oliver Pingo operated the boat operation and provided assistance. The Polar Continental Shelf Project provided helicopter support.
Elders, Annie Emaghok and Laura Raymond told us about the time they lived at Kitigaaryuit in the 1930s. Otto Binder and Adam Emaghok told us their use of the reindeer corral in the 1950s. Noah Felix related information that had been passed to him by his father Felix Nuyaviak, on the construction of ice pits used for storing whale parts.
Six previously undocumented traditional driftwood graves were located. This brings the number of traditional graves that can be seen on the surface to approximately 250.
The majority of the work at Kitigaaryuit was devoted to the geological assessments of the site that are needed to monitor the erosion and slumping that is taking place there. The edges of the eroding bluffs were surveyed and videotaped. The thickness of the active layer of permafrost was measured in a number of places. Vegetation mapping was done, as changes in vegetation can have a profound effect on the temperature of the ground by changing the snow depth. Thicker snow pack increases the average annual temperature of the ground, resulting in a reduction of the permafrost that binds the soil together. Nearshore profiles of the underwater slope adjacent to threatened locations will be created from the echo sounding that was done.
All of the information will be used to produce detailed maps showing the distribution of landscape features and vegetation at the site that are sensitive to change. Once the maps of coastal and landscape sensitivity are constructed, a monitoring plan can be developed which targets high risk locations. This information is essential for cultural resource managers who must assess the impacts to cultural remains at Kitigaaryuit from erosion and slumping that are both natural and human induced.
Archaeological Surveys on Northwestern Victoria Island, NWT
James Savelle (NWT Archaeologists Permit 2001-912)
Archaeological surveys were carried out in July 2001 on two areas in the Amundsen Gulf region of northwestern Victoria Island, Cape Ptarmigan and Berkeley Point. The surveys were conducted to determine the types of prehistoric sites present in these areas, and their age. No artifacts were collected, but several samples of charcoal and other material suitable for radiocarbon dating were collected from several features.
Approximately 20 archeological sites, including Paleoeskimo (4500 – 1000 years before the present), Thule (approximately 1000 – 200 years before the present) and historic Inuit sites were recorded. This number of sites is much smaller than in comparable areas further south on Victoria Island that we have surveyed, and may reflect either a) smaller prehistoric Inuit population levels in these northern areas, or b) possibly the erosion of many prehistoric sites due to rising sea levels at some point in the past.
Archaeological Survey of Mackenzie Valley Pipeline Route
Callum Thomson (NWT Archaeologists Permit 2001-914)
In August, 2001, a team of archaeologists from Jacques Whitford Environment Limited, Calgary, assisted by Rita Carpenter, Tsiigehtchic and Dwayne Semple, Inuvik, conducted preliminary archaeological assessments of the sections of a proposed natural gas pipeline route from the Yukon/NT border to the NT/Alberta border that pass through the Inuvialuit Settlement Region and the Gwich’in Settlement Area. The work was undertaken on behalf of the AGA Consulting Group and the Alaska Gas Producers Pipeline Team. The field team flew the proposed pipeline route by helicopter, noting areas of archaeological potential from visual attributes to complement the zones previously identified during a potential mapping exercise. We then visited all of these areas of potential within the 5 km wide study corridor and conducted pedestrian surveys and subsurface testing.
A total of 43 new archaeological, historic and contemporary sites were found in the ISR and GSA study areas, some of which had more than one component from different periods. The site components included seven from the precontact period, 30 from the historic and contemporary period, three most likely from the precontact period, one with components from both the precontact and historic periods, three whose age could not be determined, and several occurrences of palaeontological material. The precontact material included stone tools and materials used for manufacturing tools, some of the undated sites consisted of boulder markers that could have been built in the precontact period, and the historic sites included camps related to fishing, hunting, trapping and travel. Fossil marine shells were noted at several sites; a large section of fossilized tree trunk was found at another site. With the aid of Ms. Carpenter and Mr. Semple, we were able to interpret the function of most of the sites, all of which were recorded and located using GPS. We were also able to identify the owners of some of the contemporary historic sites.
We concluded that there is potential for the presence of additional sites within the corridor, particularly on bedrock and gravel exposures, ridges, rivers and lakes, especially at confluences, and other areas that offer access to resources, travel routes or a broad view of resource exploitation areas. Some of the sites found are sufficiently close to the proposed route alignment that some form of mitigation would be necessary should that alignment be selected. Mitigation could include avoidance or complete site documentation and excavation, for example. During our surveys we made note of wildlife sightings, and passed these on to other field crews. Included were several grizzly and black bears in groups or alone, eagles, owls, moose and cranes. Once the Mackenzie Valley route has been confirmed, this preliminary survey will be followed in subsequent seasons by more detailed surveys of the ISR and GSA sections and the sections that run through the Sahtu and Deh Cho areas, so that the entire 1500 km route alignment has been assessed.
Liard E 25 Well Site and Access Road Impact Assessment
Thomas Head (NWT Archaeologists Permit 2001-915)
On August 23rd, 2001 Bison Historical Services Ltd. undertook an Historical Resources Impact Assessment (HRIA) along with a traditional land use study for Purcell Energy Ltd. of a well site and access road (Purcell et al Liard E 25 in Unit E, Section 25 – Sub-surface in Unit D, Section 25). This project will see the construction of a short access road, an associated well site, a borrow source and a remote sump for a total impact of between 6.1 ha. The Acho-Dene Koe First Nation (Fort Liard) and Alpine Environmental Consulting Ltd. (Calgary) facilitated this work. Mr. Louie Betthale (member of the Acho-Dene Koe First Nation) provided Field assistance and information concerning traditional land use by the Acho-Dene Koe First Nation (Figure 1).
The project involved a day of field research and discussion concerning traditional land use. The proposed well site and access road were walked and 15 negative shovel tests dug during the fieldwork. Evidence of recent historic period activities were noted (cutlines and rusted cans) but are not felt to be significant to our understanding of the proposed well site or the area in general (Figure 2). Cultural resource sites relating to First Nations use of the area were not identified during this portion of the study.
The Traditional Use Study consisted of an interview with Mr. Louie Betthale concerning his knowledge of the area in general and the project specifically. The intent was to identify areas of potential concern to the Acho-Dene Koe First Nation relative to the proposed project. While the HRIA was directed specifically at the proposed construction, the traditional land use focused on surrounding areas and more generally information but based primarily on observations from the field component of the HRIA.
In discussing the proposed well site, access road and associated facilities, Mr. Betthale indicated that this project has a low potential for impacting traditional sites. Given the data outlined above, it is recommended that clearance be provided to Purcell Energy Ltd. for the proposed well site and access road (PURCELL et al LIARD E-25).
Tuktut Nogait National Park Cultural Resource Inventory 2001
Stephen Sauvage (Parks Canada Archaeology Permit # 01-00004)
The final season of a three-year cultural resource inventory was conducted in Tuktut Nogait National Park of Canada in July, 2001. Tuktut Nogait is one of Canada’s newest parks, located near the community of Paulatuuq (Paulatuk). The project was launched to find and record archaeological resources in the park, to assess their condition, make recommendations for management, and to offer some interpretations about the previous inhabitants and visitors to the area. The 18 days of fieldwork in 2001 concentrated on the south half of the park, effectively completing the goal of surveying all key areas within the existing park boundaries. Only surface sites were studied, and no artifacts were collected.
One of the main goals this year was to complete the survey of the Hornaday River within the Park boundary. The Hornaday is expected to be one of the most intensively used canoe routes for visitors in future years. As a result, it was deemed important to complete the survey of this river to ensure that all sites recorded along its course can be adequately managed and protected.
The Hornaday River survey was completed within two weeks, with two people walking on either side of the river, supported by two paddlers in two canoes on the river itself. In total the survey party walked and paddled nearly 120 km along the river, amounting to over 200 km when all the necessary detours and brief inland explorations of promising locations are factored in. Fifteen hours of helicopter flying time–over a four-day period– was also used to explore all areas in the park not examined in the previous years of surveys. A small crew of two persons conducted ground-based surveys from the helicopter base camp while the aerial survey was being undertaken.
Over 100 previously unrecorded sites were found and documented in 2001, which brings the total of known sites within the park to over 350. Seventy-five were recorded in 1999, while over 120 were recorded in 2000. Marc Stevenson recorded 58 of the 350 sites in the early 1990s, and over 35 of the sites that he recorded were revisited to assess their condition between 1999 and 2001. Almost all of the sites recorded this year are in generally good and stable condition.
The information collected so far suggests the land was occupied periodically, if not constantly, from Classic Thule times, and perhaps earlier. The land continues to be used today by local Inuvialuit residents and by visitors. The types of sites encountered this year are similar to those recorded in previous years, with the exception that no graves, qayaq rests, or isolated lithic scatters were observed. The types of sites recorded, in order of those most frequently found to less frequently found are: campsites, isolated markers, rock alignments, cache sites, isolated artifact finds, and undetermined. Other features within these sites, such as hearths, hunting blinds, and meat-drying areas were also recorded. Komatik parts were found at several previously unrecorded sites this year, but apart from these remnants, few artifacts were observed.
As observed in previous surveys, most sites appear to be temporary camps, representing a stay of perhaps a few nights, and some were larger camps that may have been occupied seasonally over many generations.
Cathy Cockney (Cultural Resource Management Officer, Parks Canada, Inuvik) managed the project, and Norman Kudlak Jr. (from Paulatuuq) and Myrna Pokiak (Parks Canada, Inuvik) assisted in all aspects of the fieldwork. Archaeological direction was provided by Stephen Savauge, with assistance by Barry Greco (Parks Canada, Winnipeg). Park wardens Angus Simpson and Michelle Theberge provided vital logistic support and advice, and safely paddled all the crew’s gear for over two weeks on the Hornaday River.