Heritage Resource Impact Assessment for the Selwyn Project

Ty Heffner (NWT Archaeologist’s Permit 2015-012)

Kãlo-Stantec Limited conducted a Heritage Resources Impact Assessment (HRIA) of proposed upgrades to the Howard’s Pass Access Road (HPAR) in 2015 on behalf of Selwyn Chihong Mining Ltd. The HPAR traverses GNWT land as well as Nahanni National Park Reserve and Nááts’ihch’oh National Park Reserve. Work was conducted under NWT Archaeologist Permit 2015-012 and Parks Canada Research and Collection Permit NAH-2015-19119. Initial fieldwork was conducted by a crew of 6-7 people from July 9-20. This work was staged from a RV–based field camp. Follow-up fieldwork was conducted by a crew of 3 people from September 17-22 and by a crew of 4 people from October 2-6. This fall work was staged from an exploration camp located at the Yukon/NWT border.

Fieldwork locations were determined by overlaying the proposed road upgrade footprint with the results of a Heritage Resources Overview Assessment (HROA) conducted by Stantec in 2014. The HRIA study area included a 30 m buffer around the proposed road upgrades. All areas of heritage potential identified during the HROA were subjected to pedestrian survey and 103 areas with moderate to high heritage potential were identified. Systematic surface inspections were conducted and resulted in identification of one lithic (stone) artifact on the surface. Subsurface testing was conducted at all 103 areas of ground-truthed potential; a total of 925 shovel test units were excavated and archeological material was found in 9 of the test units.

Six precontact heritage sites were found during the HRIA. Four of these sites were identified within Nááts’ihch’oh National Park Reserve and two were found on GNWT land. All sites contained subsurface lithic archaeological material. Artifacts were found both above and below the White River Ash layer, which resulted from a large volcanic eruption that occurred in AD 803, meaning some sites predate AD 803 and some postdate AD 803. Lithic raw material types found at the sites included fine-grained sedimentary rock types called chert and chalcedony. The majority of archaeological material identified was lithic debitage, the by-product of stone tool manufacture, but each of the two sites found on GNWT land contained the base of a broken projectile point (spear point). One base is from a lanceolate-shaped, concave-based projectile point found just below the White River Ash. This point is likely around 2000 years old. The other base is from a side-notched, concave-based point also found just below the ash and likely also around 2000 years old.

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