Archaeological Investigations Conducted for the Gahcho Kué Project in 2007

Jean Bussey (NWT Archaeologist’s Permit 2007-009)

Points West Heritage Consulting Ltd. (Points West) conducted archaeological investigations for De Beers Canada Inc. at their Gahcho Kué Project located at Kennady Lake approximately 300 km east/northeast of Yellowknife. Jean Bussey directed the field investigations under Class 2 Northwest Territories Archaeological Permit 2007‐009. She was assisted by Brian Apland, also of Points West, and Dianne Catholique of the Lutselk’e First Nation.

The objectives of the 2007 field investigations consisted of site assessment and site discovery and protection. Two previously recorded sites were assessed. KiNp‐76 is located within 500 m of the proposed waste rock storage area and testing suggests that future investigation is required and should consist of limited subsurface excavation and systematic surface collection. Investigations at KlNs‐2, located near MacKay Lake, indicate that no further investigation is required.

Archaeological investigations were also conducted on eighteen sections of esker that were identified as potential sources for construction material for the proposed Gahcho Kué Project. The sections differ in length and are located at varying distances from the proposed mine site and its current winter access route, which connects with the Tibbitt to Contwoyto winter road on MacKay Lake. The archaeology crew worked with a geotechnical representative from AMEC Earth and Environmental (AMEC) to ensure that proposed sampling activities did not impact recorded or unknown archaeological sites.

The procedure for the geotechnical portion of the archaeological work was to first view each section of esker from the air to assist in the selection of areas suitable for sampling. Once on the ground, the AMEC technician indicated the location of a proposed sample and the Points West crew intensively examined the area to a distance of at least 30 m. If an archaeological site was discovered, the sample location was moved to an adjacent area that contained no artefacts. Previously recorded sites were avoided during the geotechnical sampling program; 38 recorded sites are located on or adjacent to eskers included in the sampling program.

Eight new archaeological sites were discovered as a result of the geotechnical program. The sites range from an isolated find (single projectile point) to very large sites with numerous concentrations of unworked lithics and scattered stone tools. The archaeological work conducted was not an intensive inventory and it is likely that additional sites will be found on or near most of these esker sections. A detailed archaeological inventory of the selected location or locations is required should any of the 18 sampled landforms be identified as a suitable esker source.

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