Headwaters of the Arctic Red River Phase III: Heritage and Cultural Assessment

Kristi Benson (NWT Archaeologist’s Permit 2007-006)

With support from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of the Government of Canada’s Northern Development Fund, the Gwich’in Renewable Resource Board, and the Historic Places Initiative of the Government of the Northwest Territories, the Gwich’in Social & Cultural Institute conducted a traditional ecological knowledge and initial archaeological survey project about and within the headwaters of the Arctic Red River. The interviews and survey were the third phase of the study, which has also included an extensive literature review (Phase I) and traditional knowledge and use interviews (Phase II). Archaeological survey was based on information provided by interviewees (previously conducted interviews as well as interviews conducted with Tsiigehtchic residents for this project), hunting guides, and other sources including archaeological site data from nearby areas and historic documents.

An archaeological assessment was conducted in the headwaters region from August 18th to August 28th, 2008. Field crew stayed at the Arctic Red River Outfitters base camp at the mouth of the Arctic Red River, and conducted walking survey of various locations identified by Elders or through archaeological potential assessment. Remote locations away from the base camp were accessed using SuperCub aircraft. An overflight of the study area was conducted in a Cessna 206. Crew consisted of GSCI contractor Kristi Benson, University of Calgary archaeologist Dr. Brian Kooyman, and archaeological assistant/guide Sonny Blake, of Tsiigehtchic. Shovel tests were excavated where appropriate, although survey focussed on reconnaissance‐level objectives. Numerous axe‐cut stump sites were located during survey as well as one possible hearth feature which is being radio‐carbon dated. One axe‐cut stump, which grew two new leaders subsequent to the original harvest, was sampled for examination by a dendrochronologist. The project focussed on assessing the potential of the area for further heritage work.

(Edited by Shelley Crouch, Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre)