Archaeological Fieldwork Reports for 2002
Mackenzie Gas Project Assessment
Grant Clarke (NWT Archaeologists Permit #2002-916)
In the summer and fall of 2002, archaeologists with TeraAGA (a consortium of Tera Environmental Ltd., AMEC Earth and Environmental Ltd., Golder Associates Ltd. and Kavik-AXYS Environmental), conducted a focused reconnaissance of select portions of a proposed natural gas project, including a pipeline study corridor from the Mackenzie Delta to the Alberta border. Some potential granular source and infrastructure locations were also inspected during the course of investigations. The project area includes the Niglintgak, Taglu and Parsons Lake gas fields and the proposed pipeline corridor, which begins at the fields in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region and passes through portions of the Gwich’in Settlement Area, the Sahtu Settlement Area and the Deh Cho Region. All aspects of the fieldwork were conducted with the help of local assistants. Due to the scale of the project, encompassing a corridor in excess of 1400 km in length, technicians from eight communities in the vicinity of the project assisted with the reconnaissance.
There were three distinct components of the field program: the gas fields, the potential pipeline corridor and potential granular source and infrastructure locations. No definitive right-of-way for the pipeline had been determined at the time of the field program, but a one kilometre wide corridor had been selected by the Project team to encompass all of the environmental and heritage studies for 2002. The investigations of this corridor are currently being used to refine the selection of the final right-of-way location. The corridor was inspected by helicopter to confirm areas of high archaeological potential that had been previously determined on map based studies. Field crews investigated areas that were deemed to be of high potential within the corridor. A number of known site locations were also revisited. Granular source locations included areas that are potential borrow site locations for materials necessary for construction. Infrastructure locations included possible barge landing sites, plant facilities, construction camp locations and access roads. The granular source and infrastructure locations were also inspected by air to determine their potential for heritage resources as well as some field inspections of locales that exhibited high potential for heritage sites. Surface and subsurface testing was conducted in both the corridor and granular / infrastructure investigations.
The results of the program were positive for yielding archaeological information. A total of 93 heritage resource sites were investigated during the course of the program. These include a wide variety of site types and ages. Sites visited during the course of the field investigations include 18 precontact period assemblages, 69 historic / contemporary period assemblages and six locales of palaeontological material. The material from precontact period sites is primarily comprised of stone flakes and other debris remaining from stone tool manufacturing. No temporally diagnostic stone tools were recovered during the field investigations. Historic period sites primarily relate to traditional land use practices and include numerous trails, traps, tent and cabin locations, but sites relating to early communication, transportation, and oil and gas exploration are also present. Palaeontological sites were predominantly fossil marine shells, although one locale of a previously collected mammoth tooth was also revisited.
Archaeological Investigations conducted North of Lac De Gras in the Northwest Territories
Jean Bussey (Northwest Territories Archaeologists Permit 2002-918)
The Hardy Lake survey, undertaken by Callum Thomson with the assistance of Calinda Football from Wekweti, was the first such work conducted on the DBCE claim block around Hardy Lake, northeast of Lac de Gras. As only three days were available for this initial survey, the team focused on areas of intensive exploration activity and eskers, of which there are many in the area. Forty precontact sites were found, all containing stone tools and fragments of material such as quartz, quartz crystal, shale and chert.
Six of the sites date to the Palaeo-Eskimo period, which in this area, dates back to about 3500-2500 years ago. Two quartz quarries, three workshops and six sites containing habitation features such as tent rings and hearths were found, and most of the rest contained scatters or concentrations of stone artifacts ranging from less than 10 to over 200 in number. Among the Palaeo-Eskimo sites on Hardy Lake was one located in the middle of a large camp used by construction and maintenance crews on the Lupin Ice Road. All site locations are now known to the exploration crews and will be avoided, and mitigation has been proposed for the construction campsite.
Archaeological Investigations conducted along the Tibbitt to Contwoyto Winter Road
Jean Bussey (NWT Archaeologists Permit 2002-919/Nunavut Permit 02-034A)
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 a continuation of work initiated in 2001. Robert Lackowicz, representing Points West, and Frank Basil (Lutsel K’e First Nation) and James Lafferty (North Slave Metis Alliance) assisted with field investigations. The fieldwork consisted of a combination of monitoring, site protection, site testing and mitigation. In 2001, 55 new archaeological sites were recorded and 14 previously recorded sites were revisited. Six of these sites are in Nunavut and the remainder are in the NWT. In 2002, a number of the sites and portages were viewed during tours conducted with elders. The first tour involved elders from Lutsel K’e, Madelaine Drybones and August Enzoe, along with their researcher, Nancy Casaway. The second tour involved Inuit elders, Tom Kopak and Walter Bolt, along with their researcher Amanda Niptanatiak. LhNr-3, LhNr-5 and LhNr-6 in Nunavut were revisited in company with Jack Kaniak of the Kitikmeot Inuit Association and Chris Hanks of BHP Billiton, one of the Joint Venture partners.
Monitoring involved revisiting all sites within 30 m of winter road related development activities and some of those between 30 and 100 m of such activity. In addition, a number of the sites located more than 100 m from development areas were either revisited or examined from the air to confirm their condition. No new disturbances were identified at any of the sites in the vicinity of the Tibbitt to Contwoyto winter road.
It was determined during analysis of the data collected in 2001 that 13 intact archaeological sites were within 30 meters of existing disturbances associated with the winter road. Markers consisting of rebar and/or wooden survey stakes were erected at four of these sites to ensure that road related activities would not impact sites during the winter of 2002-2003: KjPa-1, KkNv-9, LcNs-140 and LhNr-5. In addition, a fifth site located more than 30 m from disturbances associated with a small gravel pit was partially staked in the event that expansion of this borrow area is required in the future. This protection measure was selected over more permanent forms of barriers because of the isolated locations of these sites.
Investigations at LcNs-133 and KkNv-12 were limited to additional surface examination since the former had been previously mitigated and there was no evidence of archaeological material at the latter. Subsurface testing was conducted at eight sites near the winter road, including one of the staked sites: LcNs-137, LcNs-138, LcNs-139, LcNs-140, LcNs-141, LcNs-142, LcNs-145 and LeNs-27. Sparse quantities of buried cultural material were noted at LcNs-137 and LcNs-142 and more substantial buried deposits were evident at LcNs-138 and LcNs-139. No buried archaeological material was encountered in the testing at LcNs-140, LcNs-141 and LcNs-145. Systematic surface collection was undertaken at all, but two sites. LcNs-145 was not collected since it is no longer threatened now that the gravel pit it is located adjacent to has been abandoned. LcNs-139 was judged to be too large and too complex to adequately mitigate through testing and surface collection. LeNs-27 is larger than originally identified and limited surface collection was undertaken, along with subsurface testing, but only the portion near the roadwork area was adequately mitigated; other intact portions are sufficiently distant. Avoidance of LcNs-138, LcNs-139, LcNs-140, LcNs-145 and LeNs-27 is the preferred alternate and has been recommended. It was not feasible to stake most of these sites, but their locations have been recorded and will be identified to those involved in road planning. LcNs-137, LcNs-141 and LcNc-142 have been adequately mitigated through a combination of surface collection and subsurface testing and no further archaeological investigation is required.
Archaeological Investigations conducted at the Ekati Diamond Mine™, Northwest Territories
Julie Ross (NWT Archaeologists Permit 2002-920)
The aim of the North Western Victoria Island Archaeological and Geological Survey Project (2002-920) was to survey coastal areas along Richard Collinson Inlet and Prince Albert Peninsula, Victoria Island, NWT for evidence of Palaeoeskimo and subsequent Neoeskimo occupations. The fieldwork was conduced between July 3 and August 8 2002. It was expected that evidence of Palaeoeskimo and Neoeskimo occupation could be used to establish the manner in which different groups used the area and how these groups were influenced by changes in their environment such as sea level, sea ice conditions, local currents, and climate change. It was anticipated that archaeological sites would be scattered along the beaches situated at about 20m ASL and below. Above 20m ASL we hoped to find shells, whalebone and/or driftwood that could be used to construct a sea level curve for the area.
Owing to the harsher climate condition of Richard Collinson Inlet, we did not expect the concentration of sites found during the 1999 and 2000 survey conducted by Jim Savelle and Art Dyke on southwestern Victoria Island of which our project is an extension. We did, however, expect a similar pattern of site location. Fifty-Two sites were recorded of which less than half were located on beach ridges. Most sites were located on high ridges or near specific topographic features, which would either offer protection from the elements or a vantage point. These sites were found on route to other destinations and thus our results are not based on a systematic survey. Four camps were established and used as base locations for survey.
From the first camp, Workshop Point, a section of approximately 75 km along the coast and 15 Km inland was surveyed and only 3 sites were recorded; from the second camp, Loch Point, a section of approximately 40 km along the coast and 25 km inland was surveyed and 1 site was found, at the third camp, W. Richard Collinson Inlet, a section of approximately 37 km along the coast and the 15 km from our inland camp to the coast was surveyed and 23 sites were recorded; at the fourth camp, E. Richard Collinson Inlet, a section approximately 52 km along the coast and 10 km inland was surveyed and 25 sites were recorded. Most of the sites cannot be easily associated with one of the specific cultural groups because many of the features are amorphous or do not exhibit classic architectural attributes. There was a considerable amount of variation in the features found but they can essentially be divided into several types: cache sites, kill site, stone tent rings, structures constructed of just stone or turf or a combination of these materials, and stone features. In addition to these finds an historical period sod house was found as well as the outline of a canvas tent. Very few surface artifacts were located and in total only 4 artifacts were discovered including a microblade core, a unifacially worked flake, worked driftwood, and a partially made harpoon head.
Mackenzie Delta Heritage Project (2002)
Charles D. Arnold (NWT Archaeologist Permit #2002-921)
The Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre has a long-standing project aimed at locating, excavating and monitoring archaeological sites in the outer Mackenzie Delta that are threatened by erosion and industrial activities. Most of the known archaeological sites in this area reflect Inuvialuit activities, and include the remains of large winter villages of driftwood and sod houses. More ancient Paleoinuit sites also are found in this area, usually as small surface sites.
One of the objectives of the 2002 fieldwork was to test the applicability of ground penetrating radar (GPR) for detecting subsurface cultural features in frozen ground.
Relying on excavations to test likely areas for archaeological sites that are buried in permafrost is time-consuming, and such testing usually is impossible if land based industrial activities that might threaten archaeological sites occur in winter. The intent of this aspect of the field program was to determine the effectiveness of GPR as a relatively quick, non-intrusive tool for archaeological site reconnaissance. Dr. Brian Moorman and Tristam Irvine-Fynn of the University of Calgary took a large number of GPR readings on a buried house feature at the Pond site (NiTs-2), and on a midden deposit at the Kuukpak site (NiTs-1). Preliminary results of their investigations show that GPR can detect architectural features, such as driftwood walls and floors, at a depth of several meters, and can profile the depth and thickness of buried midden deposits in the frozen ground at those sites.
A second objective of the 2002 fieldwork was to obtain a sample of faunal materials from an undisturbed midden associated with the remains of a driftwood and sod house at Kuukpak that had been excavated some years previously. The sample will be used to augment the faunal analysis of the Kuupuk site that is being undertaken by Matthew Betts, a graduate student at the University of Toronto, as part of his dissertation research, and will also be used in a contaminants research program that is being undertaken by the PWNHC and the University of Calgary. Matthew Betts directed this part of the fieldwork. Myrna Pokiak, a resident of Tuktoyaktuk who is completing her undergraduate degree in anthropology at the University of Fairbanks, assisted him.
Test excavations also were undertaken at NiTr-6, a small site several miles downstream from Kuukpak. Oral histories suggest that pre-contact period Inuvialuit villages at the mouth of the East Channel periodically were re-located downstream in response to ongoing silt deposition in the river bed, which made the waters adjacent to the villages too shallow for hunting beluga whales, a primary source of food source for the Inuvialuit. Radiocarbon dating at a series of archaeological sites in the study area supports this notion. NiTr-6 contains the furthest downstream village remains known along the east coast of Richards Island. A sample of terrestrial mammal bone obtained from the test excavations at NiTr-6 will be radiocarbon dated in order to determine whether the site conforms to the pattern of downstream relocation of settlements.
Heritage Resources Assessment of Quarry Development near Km 838, Mackenzie Valley Winter Road, Northwest Territories
Eleanor Stoddart (NWT Archaeologists Permit 2002-922)
The GNWT Department of Transportation contracted Jacques Whitford Environment Limited to conduct a heritage resources assessment of a gravel pit and associated access road adjacent to km 838 of the Mackenzie Valley Winter Road, south of Tulita. Archaeological studies were undertaken in August 2002 to fulfill conditions attached to the Department of Transportation’s quarrying permit obtained for work carried out in the winter of 2002.
The project involved examination of a 45 m x 35 m quarry site. An associated 6-m wide access route runs east of the quarry for approximately 500 m, crossing the Enbridge Pipeline Inc. right-of-way and meeting the Mackenzie Valley Winter Road. During the field investigation the gravel pit and access route were thoroughly surveyed by pedestrian traverse, and no evidence of historic resources was found. Although six previously recorded archaeological sites are recorded within 10 km of the quarry site, most are clustered at the mouth of the Saline River or along the banks of the Mackenzie River. None will be affected by the quarry development. It was recommended that the Department of Transportation be granted heritage resources approval.
Continuing Heritage Resource Inventory and Assessment at Gahcho Kué and on Winter Access Routes between Mackay Lake and Gahcho Kué
Eleanor Stoddart (NWT Archaeologists Permit 2002-923)
In August 2002, archaeological investigations were carried out in three areas in connection with De Beers’s mineral exploration at Gahcho Kué (Kennady Lake) and use of a winter access route between MacKay Lake and Gahcho Kué, District of Mackenzie, Northwest Territories. The main focus of work was to assess the effects of winter 2002 deviations of the 120 km-long MacKay Lake-Gahcho Kué winter access route. The work in the vicinity of Gahcho Kué was primarily associated with a winter access route constructed in 2002 from Gahcho Kué to MZ Lake, and a proposed airstrip to be constructed southeast of the De Beers Gahcho Kué camp.
The work was completed under Northwest Territories Archaeologists permit 2002-923, and Eleanor Stoddart was assisted by Tobie Marlowe of Lutsel K’e. The MacKay Lake-Gahcho Kué winter access route runs from MacKay Lake to Gahcho Kué, via Reid, Munn, Margaret and Murdock lakes. Part of the route was inspected by helicopter flyover, with the intention of inspecting deviations in the route made during the winter of 2002. One deviation was noted approximately 8 km north of the Gahcho Kué camp, and was thoroughly surveyed by pedestrian traverse. No new archaeological sites were noted, and no previously recorded sites were found to have been disturbed by 2002 winter traffic.
The Gahcho Kué-MZ Lake route was also over flown and the westernmost section near MZ Lake was inspected by pedestrian traverse, as it was located on higher ground than the surrounding area. No sites were found along the access route. Five sites recorded within 50 m of the lakeshore during a 2001 survey were assessed for potential conflicts with the access route; none of these sites will be affected. The location of a proposed airstrip southeast of the DCBE Gahcho Kué mineral exploration camp was also inspected by pedestrian traverse, and no new sites were recorded. The nearest known site is approximately 650 m from to proposed airstrip. It will not be affected by its construction but may be at risk from construction of an access road connecting the airstrip and camp.
There are currently 264 previously recorded archaeological sites within 20 km of the DBCE Gahcho Kué camp near the south end of Gahcho Kué, and on and adjacent to the winter access routes. The number and density of sites found over the past four years indicates that surveys of winter access routes are a necessary form of impact assessment and heritage resource management, and a productive source of knowledge. De Beers is committed to heritage conservation, and will, wherever possible, modify access route alignments, camp locations and exploration plans to avoid disturbance of evidence of prehistoric and historic aboriginal occupation. It is recommended that a more extensive survey be conducted in selected locations to better understand precontact and historic site location preferences, to be better able to predict site locations, and to identify additional sites that may be affected by a change in various exploration and development projects.
Teetlit Gwich’in Archaeology Project, 2002
Melanie Fafard (NWT Archaeologists Permit 2002-924)
In August of 2002, the Gwich’in Social and Cultural Institute (GSCI) in partnership with the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre (PWNHC) and the Teetl’it Gwich’in Council initiated a community-based archaeology project within the traditional land use area of the Teetl’it Gwich’in. Mélanie Fafard was hired by the GSCI to conduct the study whose objectives were threefold: (1) to carry out a two-week excavation at a site (MiTu-1) located within the community of Fort McPherson; (2) to educate youth about archaeology and their own history through practical experience; and (3) to survey a few potential sites including Nataiinlaii (Mhtu-2) and the place where the trading post (Old Fort, MhTu-1) was first built before being moved to the present location of Fort McPherson.
The excavation in Fort McPherson took place between the 12th and the 28th of August. In total, seven youth from the community took part in the project. All of them were assigned their own unit of excavation and were responsible to excavate it, record the artefacts and the faunal material they encountered, and screen all the sediment taken out of their unit to ensure that no cultural remains had been overlooked.
The area excavated was the place where the Teetl’it Gwich’in used to camp in the second part of the 19th century and the early 20th century, when coming to the fort to trade with the Hudson’s Bay Company. Besides many animal bones which belonged mostly to fish, muskrat, beaver, caribou and moose, the remains encountered include many Euro-Canadian artefacts such as nails, cartridge cases, pottery and glass fragments, numerous beads and one gun flint. Gwich’in-made artefacts found at the site consisted of several bone and antler spear points, a needle or awl made out of antler, and a few chert and quartzite flakes. The occupants of the site also recycled several glass fragments to make scrapers and cutting tools. Evidence of hearths was found within all of the units excavated, and a few cooking rocks were also collected. The presence of a significant amount of decayed/decaying wood suggested that there might have been a structure of some sort standing at the site.
Finally, no cultural remains were collected at Nataiinlaii and the Old Fort, despite the oral history attached to both of these places and the historical records that confirm that a trading post existed at the Old Fort for less than a decade around the mid-nineteenth century.
Fort Simpson Heritage Park Archaeological Site Testing
Jean-Luc Pilon (NWT Archaeologist Permit 2002-925)
In 2000, Tom Andrews of the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre in Yellowknife carried out limited testing at the Fort Simpson Heritage Park, where the Fort Simpson Historical Society hopes to relocate a heritage building, which demonstrated that archaeological deposits did in fact exist there. As a result, additional work was required in order to better evaluate the potential significance of these remains. It has also been suggested that the site of Fort of the Forks, a North West Company post dating to 1803, was located somewhere on, or near, the Park. It was with this in mind that a small crew of volunteers carried out archaeological fieldwork in the Fort Simpson Heritage Park during the 2002 field season. The project was sponsored by the Fort Simpson Historical Society, supported by the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre and the Canadian Museum of Civilization, and carried out under the direction of Jean-Luc Pilon.
Four 3 m x 50 cm test trenches were laid out in such a way as to expand upon the results of the 2000 investigation, leading to the recovery of artifacts and features that provide a much better idea of some of the events that have taken place within the Heritage Park over the last two centuries or more. The upper 30 cm of soil showed that there had been serious disturbance, probably a result of ploughing at the beginning of the 20th century, which completely mixed 19th and 20th century artefacts. In one trench, affectionately known as Heather’s trench, a deep pit was found. However, we only realized that this pit was near 1.4 m in depth in the last days of the excavation and so very little of the pit’s interior was actually exposed. The bottom was leveled with a layer of heavy silt/clay, on top of which a 2 cm-thick layer of wood and bark chips was lain. Though pattern was repeated at least twice, very few artefacts were found in these fill layers.
This construction technique has been documented at fur trade posts across Canada where it is a common way of lining the bottom of a cellar under a house or an icehouse. In W.F. Wentzel’s journal kept at the Fort of the Forks in the first decade of the 19th century, he describes roots cellars for the garden’s produce as well as an ice house, suggesting that the excavated pit in may in fact be the remains of either an ice house or a root cellar associated with the Fort of the Forks. Unfortunately the ploughing likely destroyed any building foundations that might have existed there, and only the full excavation of this pit and perhaps exploration for other similar features would help determine the true identity and age of the pit with any certainty.
This work at Fort Simpson, at or near the site of the Fort of the Forks was particularly meaningful on a very personal level. During the winter of 1810-11 conditions were so severe that five members of the local Native band died of starvation as well as 4 individuals of the post’s complement of over-wintering men. One of these was François Pilon a distant relative of mine. This summer, for a few brief moments, my daughter Laina (who performed wonderfully as an archaeological field assistant) and I bowed our heads and remembered our kin who died there nearly two centuries ago. We were the first relatives of his to stand and cry over his grave so far removed from his home on the Island of Montréal that he likely so yearned to see one last time before he closed his eyes forever. Further work is planned at the site next summer.
2002 Mackenzie Delta Heritage Resource Survey
Don Hanna (NWT Archaeologists Permit 2002-926)
In August and September of 2002, Bison Historical Services Ltd. and Inuvialuit Environmental and Geotechnical Inc. carried out a survey of heritage sites in the Mackenzie Delta on behalf of: Chevron Canada Resources, Conoco Canada Resources Limited, Devon ARL Corporation, EnCana Corporation and Petro-Canada. Previously known sites were re-visited to ensure that they had not been damaged by last winter’s activities. We also examined proposed well sites, access roads, and seismic lines on behalf of Devon, EnCana and Petro-Canada to ensure their upcoming winter projects would avoid known and newly identified heritage sites.
Fieldwork was based out of Tuktoyaktuk and carried out by helicopter and on foot. Our work was located inland, south of Tuktoyaktuk, on Richards Island and in the vicinity of Parson’s Lake. We did not excavate any materials at any sites and no artifacts or other materials were collected.
Forty-two known sites, including ancient graves, villages and camps, were re-visited to evaluate avoidance. The accuracy of locations recorded in 2001 was found to be high. One site, a recently abandoned komatik recorded in 2001, could not be re-identified. No other sites had been damaged by last winter’s exploration activities. However, natural erosion at several sites is an on-going concern.
New programs that we examined included: the proposed Petro-Canada Nuna access roads and well-sites, the Devon SDL62 access road and well-site, and the EnCana 2D seismic program in the vicinity of Richards Island and Parson’s Lake. One new site was identified during our examination of the Petro-Canada Nuna project. No sites were identified in connection with the Devon SDL62 program. Twenty previously un-recorded sites were identified and twenty-six previously identified sites were re-visited during our examination of the EnCana seismic program. Newly identified sites included: graves, ancient campsites and traditional land-use locales. EnCana’s planned development was re-designed to avoid all heritage sites. All previously known and newly identified heritage sites will be avoided by the proposed Petro-Canada Nuna access roads and well-sites, the Devon L47 access road and well-site, and the Encana 2D seismic program in the vicinity of Richards Island and Parson’s Lake.