Western Subarctic Archaeology in Canada

Samedi, mai 18, 2019 - 9:00am - 12:00pm
  • Jodie MacMillan
  • Holly Smith
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Session Description (300 word max): 

Focusing on archaeological investigations in the Western Subarctic regions of Canada, with new data from field surveys, excavations, reanalysis of past collections, and multi-disciplinary studies. This session enables communication of new discoveries, field and lab results, preliminary findings of emerging research topics, and theoretical contributions to understanding human adaptation in the region.

09:10 AM: Ecological and Human Responses to the Northern White River Ash Eruption
Format de présentation :
Auteur-e(s) :
  • Holly Smith - University of Alaska Fairbanks and Government of Yukon

Final results from this thesis project will investigate the effects that the White River Ash northern lobe (WRN) volcanic eruption had on the environment and local hunter-gatherer populations. This eruption deposited a blanket of tephra along the Yukon - Alaska border ~1600-1900 cal BP. Fine grain pollen analysis of a lake core from 6-Mile Lake (Eagle, AK) was conducted to provide data to evaluate flora responses. Artifacts from excavations at the Forty Mile Territorial Historic Site (LcVn-2), were analyzed to explore the cultural response to this eruptive event.

09:40 AM: An Archaeological Investigation of Subalpine and Alpine Use in the Southeast Yukon
Format de présentation :
Auteur-e(s) :
  • Jodie MacMillan - Government of Yukon, Simon Fraser University

This paper presents the preliminary results of my Master’s thesis which explores past human use of subalpine and alpine environments in the southeast Yukon. A model of land and resource use for subalpine and alpine environments was developed using available ethnographic, archaeological and environmental data for the area. The model is intended to assist in determining activities, seasonal patterns, resources, and archaeological site types that characterize subalpine and alpine environments in southeast Yukon. The results of the land use model were then compared to the findings of a heritage resource management project for a proposed mine development located in southeast Yukon, along the Northwest Territories border. Forty-seven new archaeological sites were identified in subalpine and alpine environments during the project; these sites were used to test the findings of the land use model.  

10:30 AM: Use it or lose it: Connecting ice patch archaeology and oral history in the Southern Yukon
Format de présentation :
Auteur-e(s) :
  • Jennifer Herkes - Carcross Tagish First Nation
  • David Katzeek - Tlingit Elder
  • Derek Grose - Carcross Tagish First Nation

The modern Carcross/Tagish First Nation people are the descendants of Tagish and Inland Tlingit people who have lived in the southern Yukon for thousands of years. Oral history narrates the connections these inland people had with their neighbouring relations through trade, travel, and kinship. These stories are supported by a material culture that substantiates these histories.  This presentation explores how a Coastal Tlingit story, Raven finds the Wolf People, about finding their inland relations and sharing lithic technologies is illuminated by the recovery of a ground stone point in the Yukon Ice Patches, the first recovered in interior Yukon. This artifact, along with others, are tangible confirmations of the oral histories of the people. A review of the story indicates the importance of trade, kinship, and travel in the dissemination of lithic technologies and an analysis of the artifact illustrates the uniqueness and importance of this particular item. By combining the study of story with the study of artifacts, we are able to better understand the vast connections the people had to the land and their neighbours. As researchers we are at risk of losing the opportunities to study these connections: climate change is actively melting the ice patches and many of the oral histories are being lost as elders pass away, taking their stories and knowledge with them. 

11:00 AM: New insights from residue analyses of Yukon Ice Patch artifacts
Format de présentation :
Auteur-e(s) :
  • Ty Heffner - Government of Yukon
  • Christian Thomas - Government of Yukon
  • Valery  Monahan - Government of Yukon
  • Gregory Hare - Government of Yukon
  • Kate Helwig - Canadian Conservation Institute
  • Jason Rogers - National Park Service
  • Joshua Reuther - Alaska Museum of the North
  • Carly Crann - A. E. Lalonde Radiocarbon Laboratory
  • Sara Murseli - A. E. Lalonde Radiocarbon Laboratory
  • Sheila Greer - Champagne and Aishihik First Nation
  • Jennifer Herkes - Carcross/Tagish First Nation

Archaeological survey in the traditional territories of the Carcross/Tagish First Nation, Kwanlin Dün First Nation and the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations has resulted in the recent discovery of four ancient hunting artifacts where minute traces of residue were observable. This paper documents the discovery of a stone spear point, two bladed antler arrowheads and a broken ground slate arrowhead that were collected after they had melted from alpine ice patches in the southern Yukon. Analyses of these objects using XRF, UV light, multi-spectrum light photography, and gas chromatography have enabled the successful C14 dating of residues on stone points as well as the detection of absorbed copper residues in datable osseous artifacts. The use of these techniques may have broader applications for the study and dating inorganic technologies.