O’Grady Lake Archaeology Project, 2014

Todd Kristensen (NWT Archaeologist’s Permit 2014-020)

A collaborative team from the University of Alberta, the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre, and the Tulita Dene Band continued their research of pre-contact and historic adaptations to the Selwyn Mountains of the Northwest Territories. This was the last year of fieldwork that will contribute to Mr. Kristensen’s PhD research at the University of Alberta. This year’s goals were to return to two previously identified archaeology sites in the O’Grady Lake area for small excavations and to complete four traditional knowledge interviews with Tulita Elders. The work at O’Grady Lake was done at the same time as neighbouring ice patch survey work in alpine areas led by the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre.

Mike Donnelly and Todd Kristensen dug at two sites and uncovered a variety of stone tools including a spear head, microblades, scrapers, and stone knives. We focused our work on what looks like a small camp where people made microblades and other tools for meat and hide processing over 2000 years ago. Angus Lennie from Tulita continued to provide assistance with interviews of four Elders who spent much of their lives in the Mackenzie Mountains. In total, eight Elders have been interviewed for the current research project. Past archaeology work at O’Grady Lake was done under permits 2012-007 and 2013-011.

Our archaeological work at O’Grady Lake over the past three years tells us that small groups of people visited the area over several thousand years to hunt caribou and birds and catch fish. Lake cores, blood residue analysis on stone tools, and sourcing studies of obsidian from the area combined with Elder stories will hopefully tell us more about the variety of human activities and environments at O’Grady Lake. This year’s field program benefited greatly from assistance provided by Tom Andrews and Glen MacKay (Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre), Jack Ives (University of Alberta), Richard Popko (Department of Energy and Renewable Resources), Keith Hickling from Norman Wells, Leon Andrew and Angus Lennie from Tulita, the Tulita Land Corporation, and Al Pace and Lin Ward (Canoe North Adventures).

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