2010 Archaeological Survey in the Proposed Nááts’ihch’oh National Park Reserve

Lori Dueck (NWT Archaeologist’s Permit 2010-007)

From July 6 – 23, 2010 a field crew conducted an archaeological survey in the Proposed Nááts’ihch’oh National Park Reserve located at the headwaters of the South Nahanni River in the Sahtu Dene and Métis Traditional Territory in the Northwest Territories. Although the area had been examined with the intent of creating a national park reserve, a ground survey for archaeological sites had not been done. The field crew was Lori Dueck and Mike Evans of Parks Canada Western and Northern Service Centre in Winnipeg, Maurice Mendo, Reanna Campbell, Joe Horassi and Wilbert Menacho of Tulita, and Marika Connor of Winnipeg. We conducted the survey at The Moose Ponds, Divide Lake, and Grizzly Bear Lake, accessed by a Pilatus Porter of North Wright Airways Ltd. We recorded 48 archaeological sites; camps, cut stumps, spruce tree shelters, snare traps, hearths, blazed and limbed trees.

The Moose Ponds

We set up base camp at the north end of The Moose Ponds using two canoes to survey the circumference of the ponds. We hiked along a tributary flowing into South Nahanni River and hiked inland to survey spruce and poplar stands, visible clearings, and a portion of the base of the mountain Nááts’ihch’oh to the tree line. We recorded 17 sites; three camps including one older camp used to dry or process meat, axe and saw cut stumps, tree shelters, two snare traps, and a possible vegetation study or soil sampling area as noted by a linear pattern of wooden stakes embedded in the ground.

Divide Lake

The second base camp was set up near the NWT Outfitters Ltd. camp at the south end of Divide Lake. We canoed to survey the shoreline of Divide Lake and the small unnamed lake to the north. We hiked to survey the area south of our base camp, and inland along the west and east sides of the two lakes and along an unnamed stream to the northeast. We recorded 18 sites; the majority identified as axe and saw cut stumps, spruce tree shelters, and others as blazed and limbed trees, and a hearth.

Grizzly Bear Lake

Our third base camp was set up at the south end of Grizzly Bear Lake. We conducted the survey on foot, hiking along the shore of the lake and an unnamed stream to the southwest of the base camp. We recorded 13 sites; including two camps. One camp consisted of cut tent poles, cache remains, cast iron stove parts, glass and metal fragments, and fuel barrels. The second camp was associated with a large collapsed pole structure described as a lean-to. Two other sites were recorded along an unnamed stream to the southwest of Grizzly Bear Lake consisting of saw and axe cut stumps. A third site with a burnt axe cut log was recorded at a natural hotspring located approximately 3.7 kilometres southwest of the base camp.

Further analysis is required to understand the human use and occupation of the areas surrounding The Moose Ponds, Divide Lake, and Grizzly Bear Lake.

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