NWT Ice Patch Study (2009)

 Tom Andrews (NWT Archaeologist’s Permit 2009‐019)

Work this year, our last funded by Canada’s commitment to the International Polar Year, focused on firming up our list of patches to monitor over the coming years. To do so, we visited several targets identified from examining Google Earth imagery, as well as several that were further out from our core area. In the end, we were able to identify 20 target locations (8 of which have produced artefacts) which we will continue to monitor in future. Leon Andrew, Glen MacKay, and helicopter pilot Guy Thibault, helped with the research.

Significant finds this year included the remains of a birch arrow. In 2007, we located two mid‐shaft fragments of the same arrow; this year we found both the distal and proximal ends and were also able to recover the fletching—the three feathers that were originally attached to the proximal or knock end. Unfortunately, the feathers were no longer attached to the arrow, but were lying immediately beside it in the caribou dung.

Following a tip from Keith Hickling, Superintendent, Sahtu Region, ENR, we also located a sheep fence. At nearly 800 metres long, the fence, which is still clearly visible, took advantage of a nearby salt lick that attracts both sheep and caribou to the area. Running along a flat river bench in the direction toward the lick, the fence turns abruptly down slope into a corral on the next bench below. Leon Andrew reports that elders had told him of a sheep fence in the area so we were pleased to be able to confirm its presence. Based on descriptions from Tulita elders, the fence may have been used for both caribou and sheep. As we were taking off after mapping the fence, we noticed a second, much older adjacent fence that had been invisible to us on the ground. We landed again to map and sample this fence, though it is much shorter and poorly preserved.

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

  • Four shaft fragments of the arrow are visible here. Note the small stone projectile point still attached by sinew to the shaft fragment on the right.

    2009-019 Tom Andrews
  • The newer of the two fences is still easily seen.

    2009-019 Tom Andrews