Archaeological Investigations Conducted for The Gahcho Kué Project

Jean Bussey (NWT Archaeologist’s Permit 2010-008)

Points West Heritage Consulting Ltd. (Points West) conducted archaeological investigations for De Beers Canada Inc. (De Beers) at Kennady Lake, the location of the proposed Gahcho Kué Project (Project). Kennady Lake is situated approximately 280 km northeast of Yellowknife and 140 km north of Lutselk’e. Jean Bussey directed the investigations under Class 2 Northwest Territories Archaeological Permit 2010-008. She was assisted by Brian Apland, also of Points West, and Pete Enzoe of the Lutselk’e First Nation. Points West previously conducted work at Kennady Lake for De Beers in 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007.

The objectives of the 2010 field investigations included additional inventory, as well as the determination of impact potential and site significance. These investigations were prompted by revisions to the original Project footprint. It was determined that six previously recorded sites (KiNp-4, KiNp-5, KiNp-6, KiNp-9, KiNp-14 and KiNp-41) were within 1 km of the revised footprint and moderate to high impact potential was predicted. The archaeological significance of these six sites was assessed through a combination of surface examination and subsurface testing. Further work is required at KiNp-4, KiNp-6 and KiNp-41 if avoidance is not feasible; investigations conducted to date represent sufficient mitigation at KiNp-5, KiNp-9 and KiNp-14.

Four new archaeological sites were discovered. Three sites were found on the west side of Kennady Lake in inland areas that had not been previously examined and were suggestive of moderate to high impact potential. Two of these three sites are on elevated landforms overlooking Kennady Lake to the east and the third is on a large ridge that has southwestern exposure. All three sites were assessed through intensive surface examination and subsurface testing. KiNp-77 is a small site that was essentially mitigated during the assessment process. Further excavation and surface collection is required at KiNp-78 if avoidance is not feasible. As a result of modifications to the Project footprint in September 2010, KiNp-79 is no longer suggestive of moderate impact potential and no further archaeological investigation is required.

The fourth new site was found during inventory conducted in the vicinity of a proposed revision to the winter access route for an existing aggregate source. KiNp-80 is over 100 m from the revised route and is situated on a higher landform that would not be suitable as a winter road. KiNp-80 was not assessed because of low impact potential. The ridge-like landform containing this site is characterized by moderately heavy vegetation cover and there may be additional archaeological material, but the only artifact visible on the surface was a small white chert biface. This style of artifact and material type is suggestive of the Arctic Small Tool tradition which dates between 2500 and 3500 years before present.

A review of all sites on or near the revised Project footprint is being undertaken to ensure consistent assessment of impact potential and site significance and will be detailed in the permit report.

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