O’Grady Lake Archaeology and Ice Patch Monitoring Project, 2012

Todd Kristensen (NWT Archaeologist’s Permit 2012-007)

A collaborative team from the University of Alberta, the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre, and the Tulita Dene Band, visited O’Grady Lake and several ice patches in the Selwyn Mountains of the Northwest Territories from late July to mid-August. Crew members included Glen MacKay, Leon Andrew, Mike Donnelly, Tom Andrews, and Todd Kristensen. The goals were to monitor ice patches where ancient artifacts have been found and to find new archaeological sites around O’Grady Lake. In past years, ice patches have yielded well-preserved weapons and technologies left behind by people hunting caribou in high alpine areas. It is hoped that archaeological excavations around neighbouring O’Grady Lake will reveal more about the relationship between this alpine caribou hunting and lowland camps.

Eight new archaeological sites were discovered around O’Grady Lake during 2012 fieldwork. Most of these sites consist of stone tools and debris from tool production. No new artifacts were discovered during ice patch monitoring due to heavy winter snows that expanded the extent of many patches.

Small scale excavation units were dug at two of the O’Grady Lake archaeology sites in order to learn about possible dwellings and activity areas. One site produced fire cracked rock from boiling food while another yielded a deep cultural occupation below a layer of volcanic ash deposited 1250 years ago. Radiocarbon collected from this deep deposit will be tested to determine when O’Grady Lake was first used by pre-contact people. Both sites will be returned to in 2013 for more excavations, which will form the basis for the PhD research of Todd Kristensen at the University of Alberta.

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