Gahcho Kué Project 2013

Jean Bussey (NWT Archaeologist’s Permit 2013-003)

Points West Heritage Consulting Ltd. Conducted archaeological investigations for De Beers Canada Inc. at Kennady Lake, the location of the proposed Gahcho Kué Mine. The project area is approximately 280 km northeast of Yellowknife and 140 km north of Łutselk’e. Jean Bussey directed the investigations under Class 2 Northwest Territories Archaeologist’s Permit 2013-003. She was assisted by Gabriella Prager, Carol Rushworth and Robert Dawe, of Points West, and Janet Rabesca, Peter (Sonny) Marlowe and Myranda Calumet, residents of the NWT.

The objectives of the 2013 field investigations were to complete as many of the recommendations identified in the 2012 Gahcho Kué Archaeological Management Plan as possible. The archaeological management plan provides recommendations on the type and level of archaeological investigation required at specific sites in advance of mine construction. This document was prepared in consultation with the territorial archaeologists at the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre. It identified a need for further work at 13 of the 80 sites in the Kennady Lake area. These sites are within the mine footprint and represent locations that range from low to high archaeological significance and have high impact potential. A dyke near KiNp-76 – one of the sites of high concern – is no longer required because of development revisions.

In 2013, the investigations recommended in the management plan were completed at nine of the 12 sites of concern: KiNp-7, KiNp-8, KiNp-16, KiNp-32, KiNp-33, KiNp-34, KiNp-37, KiNp-38 and KiNp-74. Archaeological investigations ranged from surface collection to excavation. Each of the sites was assessed previously through surface examination and subsurface testing, which involved varying numbers of 50 centimetres by 50 centimetre units. In 2013, systematic surface collection was undertaken at seven sites suggestive of low archaeological significance; these sites were characterized solely by surface artifacts with no subsurface archaeological material. At most of the seven sites, additional subsurface testing was also completed to ensure that no subsurface archaeological material was evident. More intensive investigation involving 1 metre by 1 metre excavation units was completed at KiNp-16 and KiNp-32 and initiated at KiNp-15; these sites have moderate to high archaeological significance. At KiNp-16, eight units were completed and all visible surface artifacts were collected; little subsurface archaeological material was encountered, in part because of the shallow soil deposits on the bedrock based knoll. At KiNp-32, 27 excavation units were completed and a representative sample of the subsurface archaeological material was recovered. In addition, all visible surface artifacts were systematically collected. At KiNp-15, nine excavation units were completed. Additional work will be undertaken in 2014 because the variety of stone material warrants further investigation. Archaeological investigations are also proposed in 2014 at KiNp-27 and KiNp-35, both of which were assessed previously as being suggestive of moderate archaeological significance. During the winter of 2013-2014, analysis of the collected archaeological material will be completed.

(Edited by Morgan Moffitt, Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre)