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Research Grants

2013 James W. Bourque Studentship in Northern Geography


Todd Kristensen, University of Alberta
Traditional, historical and pre-contact alpine ecology of the Shuhtagot'ine Dene of the Northwest Territories

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In the last five years, high alpine ice features in the Selwyn Mountains of the Northwest Territories have produced amazingly well-preserved wood and bone weapons used by ancient people to hunt alpine caribou. Global warming has accelerated the melt of these iced storehouses and are now revealing thousand-year-old arrows with intact arrowheads and feathers. But time is running out to learn more about these artifacts and the people that used them.

Once exposed from the ice, the artifacts quickly decay and are destroyed by natural forces. The aim of this project is to study and better understand how the Shuhtagot'ine Dene and their ancestors used these hunting grounds. Significant archaeological sites found in 2012 surveys will be excavated and the results from this dig will be supplemented by oral history research, archival research and traditional knowledge interviews with Shuhtagot'ine Dene. This body of research will then be shared with Dene youth at workshops hosted by elders, archaeologists and biologists to expose youth to both modern science and traditional knowledge. The aim of the workshops is to highlight First Nations’ heritage and cultural revitalization focusing on local geography.

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