Gahcho Kue Project

Julie Ross (NWT Archaeologist’s Permit 2015-001)

Points West Heritage Consulting Ltd. conducted archaeological investigations for De Beers Canada Inc. at Kennady Lake, the location of the Gahcho Kué Mine and along the winter road route to the Mine. The project area is approximately 280 km northeast of Yellowknife and 140 km north of Łutselk’e. Julie Ross and Jean Bussey co-directed the investigations under Class 2 Northwest Territories Archaeologist Permit 2015-001, held by Julie Ross. Sean Desjardins, of Points West, and Roy Desjarlais, a member of the Łutselk’e Dene First Nation, assisted with the work.

There were four objectives for the 2015 field investigations. The first objective was to assess three sites, KkNq-52, KkNq-53 and KlNs-16, to determine if further scientific data collection would be required. The second was to monitor several sites (KiNp-32, KjNq-14, KjNq-15, KkNq-10, KkNq-28, KkNq-7, KkNr-33, KkNr-47, KkNr-49, KlNr-1, KlNs-16 and KlNs-3). Monitoring included checking that protective staking was standing, replacing and/or adding stakes, installing stakes and spray painting stakes to assist with visibility. The third was to collect a bow from KkNr-10 at the request of Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre staff. The final objective, should there be time, was to confirm the locations of select previously recorded sites, which had not been revisited since their discovery, with the goal of recording more accurate GPS co-ordinates.

KkNq-52, KkNq-53 and KlNs-16 were assessed through surface examination and subsurface testing, which involved varying numbers of 50 cm by 50 cm units. In consultation with De Beers, it was determined that no future land use activities are planned at the aggregate source between KkNq-52 and KkNq-53 and therefore no additional work is recommended at this time. KkNq-52 should be staked and KkNq- 53 should be subject to systematic surface collection if activities are proposed in future. Testing at KlNs-16 indicated that the site was further from the installed stakes and thus it is feasible to protect this site through monitoring; scientific data collection is not required at this time. Monitoring of 10 protected sites was completed and painted stakes were installed at two additional sites. The bow was successfully collected from KkNr-10; coordinates for the five discrete site areas were recorded and additional photographs of the site and artifacts were taken. During examination of this site, reported sled remains (Ba Chin) were confirmed and consisted of wood with antler runner pieces and ivory and bone pegs. Finally, the locations of KjNq-10, KkNq-2, KkNq-42, KkNq-44, KkNq-45, KkNr-16, KkNr-37, KkNr-43, and KlNs-7 were confirmed; however, material evidence of KjNq-2, KkNq-1, KkNq-8 and KlNs-6 were not relocated despite considerable effort. During the winter of 2015-2016, analysis of the collected archaeological material will be completed.

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