Prairie Creek Mine Access Road Alignment

Brent Murphy (NWT Archaeologist’s Permit 2012-016)

During September of 2012, Golder Associates Ltd. conducted an Archaeological Impact Assessment under NWT Permit 2012-016 on behalf of Canadian Zinc Corporation of changes to their Prairie Creek Mine Access Road Alignment near Nahanni Butte, NWT. The study included the assessment of the proposed Nahanni Range Alternative (56.2 km) winter road. The alternative road travels from just northeast of the community of Nahanni Butte north along the Nahanni Front Range to Grainger Gap where it meets up with the existing winter road. The current winter road was used by the past owner of the mine in the 1980s and was subject to an archaeological assessment in 2009.

The objectives of the Archaeological Impact Assessment were to identify, record and assess heritage resources that might be impacted by the proposed winter road and to devise appropriate mitigation strategies should any be found in conflict with the proposed winter road alignment. The archaeological sites may include previously unrecorded sites within or adjacent to the proposed right of way, temporary workspace and/or borrow areas, if relevant.

The field assessment was planned in conjunction with Elders and community members in Nahanni Butte prior to the field studies. Although the meetings were informal, advice and information from several community members and Elders was obtained that aided in the design of the archaeological field program. The field studies included the participation of Wilbert Antoine from Canadian Zinc Corporation and Peter Marcellais and Elder Leon Konisenta from the community of Nahanni Butte who assisted during the field program and provided advice on the cultural significance of the landscape traversed during the investigation.

The field studies included low and slow helicopter overflight and some pedestrian survey. The entire project right-of-way was examined from the air and pedestrian survey was focused on the proposed crossing of the Liard River. The results of the assessment were that no new archaeological sites were recorded or revisited; however, two traditional land use locations, both trails, were noted but not officially recorded as they do not meet some or all of the criteria required to be designated as an archaeological site under the Northwest Territories Archaeological Sites Regulations.

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