Archaeological Assessment of Gravel Developments at KM 36.7 and KM 24, Dempster Highway

Kristi Benson (NWT Archaeologist’s Permit 2009‐017)

The Gwich’in Social & Cultural Institute was contracted by the Department of Transportation to conduct a post‐impact assessment of geotechnical testing and an archaeological impact assessment of a gravel pit expansion project on the Dempster Highway. The gravel pit is located at Kilometre 36.7, on the north side of the highway. It was identified as having an increased potential for buried archaeological remains due to proximity to traditional trails and landforms.

The work was carried out on June 4th, 2009 by Kristi Benson. The gravel pit is located in the Bonnet Plume Flats region and is within the traditional territory of the Teetł’it Gwich’in of Fort McPherson. The Teetł’it Gwich’in travel through this area to and from the mountains hunting the Porcupine caribou herd and Dall sheep and travelling to other communities. Traditionally, the Teetł’it Gwich’in would move to the mountains for caribou hunting in the winter, spring, and fall, and return to the Peel River and its tributaries for fishing in the summers. The proposed gravel pit is located within Ddhah Deechan, a Gwich’in place name referring to the foothills of the Richardson Mountains.

The intact portions of the proposed expansion were surveyed completely by foot. Eighteen shovel tests were excavated. Approximately 100 disturbances were examined for cultural materials. Natural and cat‐trail surface exposures were numerous. No cultural remains were discovered, and no impacts to archaeological materials are anticipated from the development of this gravel pit.

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