2014 Archaeological Impact Assessment for the Government of the Northwest Territories Department of Transportation Tłı̨chǫ All-Weather Road Project

Andrea DeGagne (NWT Archaeologist’s Permit 2014-009)

At the request of the Government of the Northwest Territories Department of Transportation, Stantec Consulting Ltd. conducted an Archaeological Impact Assessment (AIA) for the proposed Tłı̨chǫ all-weather road (Tłı̨chǫ Road; the Project). The Project will consist of an all-weather road between the settlement of Whatì and Highway 3 west of Yellowknife, NWT.

All archaeological work was conducted under Northwest Territories Class 2 Archaeologist Permit 2014-009, issued to Andrea DeGagne. Fieldwork took place in conjunction with other discipline studies June 25 through 28, 2014, with a representative of the Department of Transportation on site. The AIA was directed by Andrea DeGagne, M.A., and assisted by Dominica Lesniewicz, both of Stantec Consulting Ltd. The objective of this AIA was to identify sites that would potentially be impacted by the Project so that these could be avoided, as the Project was still in design phase at the outset of the field program.

The four-day long archaeological field program consisted of a helicopter-supported pedestrian survey of the proposed Project footprint between Highway 3 and Whatì. During the AIA field studies, the entire route was assessed by helicopter overflight to identify areas with archaeological potential and to assess the degree of existing disturbance along the proposed route. Areas with high archaeological potential within a 1 km buffer of the proposed route were also observed to confirm archaeological potential should re-routes be necessary. Ground truthing of areas with high archaeological potential within the Project right-of-way was conducted through visual assessment and shovel testing. Overall, the degree of existing disturbance along the right-of-way was high. The northern extent of the Project currently exists as a high grade gravel road running east from Whatì to the La Martre Falls. West of the falls, the proposed Project footprint continues south along an old winter road.

Disturbance related to modern use of the area was noted throughout the Project area. No new archaeological sites were identified during the field assessment. One area of high archaeological potential was identified along the north shore of the La Martre River, immediately upstream from the La Martre Rapids. Modern use of this area was observed, related to the use of the old winter road to access the rapids. However, as this area was outside of the proposed Project footprint at the time of the assessment, no testing was undertaken to determine whether precontact use of the area also took place. One indigenous historic site located near the La Martre Rapids (site KgPo-3), previously recorded in 1986, was revisited during the current study; the site will not be impacted by the Project.

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