M.A. Theses: Murielle Ida Nagy, 1988

Caribou Exploitation at the Trail River Site (Northern Yukon).

This thesis investigates a poorly-known aspect of the seasonal round of the late prehistoric Mackenzie Inuit, the late spring and summer caribou hunt, through the study of the Trail River site (NgVh 1) in the northern Yukon. Because the site is approximately 25 km from the Beaufort Sea and since coastal Mackenzie Inuit subsistence strategies were mainly oriented toward the exploitation of aquatic resources, it is important to understand why the Mackenzie Inuit used the site and how its use related to the rest of the seasonal round.

It is suggested the Trail River site was a habitation site where both caribou and bird resources were exploited. Activities related to bone processing, tool manufacture, skin preparation and clothes manufacture are shown to have been carried out at the site. A late spring/early summer time of occupation is indicated by the presence of foetal and neonate caribou. Analysis of the faunal material has demonstrated that 21 species were present, of which caribou and ptarmigan were the most important. Element frequency and the degree of bone breakage suggested that caribou were hunted in the vicinity of the site and transported back to the site for butchery, and marrow and grease extraction.

The site is notable for the heavy concentration of by-products associated with the manufacture of antler objects. Three is also some evidence for the production of bone tools. Analysis of antler indicates that all stages in the manufacture of artifacts are represented, with various manufacturing techniques being associated with each stage.

Recognition of two types of gear was substantiated by the analysis of manufacturing techniques performed on the associated by-products. Personal gear, made from antler, was manufactured with considerable effort and skill. These tools would have been prepared in anticipation of future caribou hunting. Situational gear, made from bone obtained on site, was manufactured expediently and meant for immediate use.