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Andrews T.D.,Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Center | MacKay G.,Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Center | Andrew L.,PO Box 475 | Stephenson W.,Greyrock Consulting Services | And 3 more authors.
Arctic | Year: 2012

The NWT Ice Patch Study was developed in partnership with the Shúhtagot'ine residents of Tulita, Northwest Territories, Canada. This paper explores how Shúhtagot'ine traditional knowledge, collected through the direct participation of Elders in our archaeological fieldwork, science camps with Elders and youth, Elder interviews, and traditional land-use mapping, is informing our interpretation of archaeological data collected at alpine ice patches in the Selwyn Mountains. While knowledge of bow-and-arrow and snare technologies persists in Shúhtagot'ine culture, Shúhtagot'ine oral history does not contain detailed knowledge of throwing dart technology. Using data collected in our traditional land-use mapping project, we consider the role of ice patches in the broader context of Shúhtagot'ine land use. We propose that resource harvesting on high alpine plateaus and adjacent ice patches in the summer was more important in late precontact times than it was after contact. Shúhtagot'ine land-use practices involve long-distance travel in all seasons. Safe travel in the alpine landscape requires detailed knowledge of environmental conditions, such as snow and ice conditions, and respectful engagement with the spiritual entities inhabiting the landscape. © The Arctic Institute of North America.

Ng T.F.F.,Blood Systems Research Institute | Ng T.F.F.,University of California at San Francisco | Chen L.-F.,University of California at Davis | Zhou Y.,Blood Systems Research Institute | And 19 more authors.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America | Year: 2014

Viruses preserved in ancient materials provide snapshots of past viral diversity and a means to trace viral evolution through time. Here, we use a metagenomics approach to identify filterable and nuclease-resistant nucleic acids preserved in 700-y-old caribou feces frozen in a permanent ice patch. We were able to recover and characterize two viruses in replicated experiments performed in two different laboratories: A small circular DNA viral genome (ancient caribou feces associated virus, or aCFV) and a partial RNA viral genome (Ancient Northwest Territories cripavirus, or aNCV). Phylogenetic analysis identifies aCFV as distantly related to the plant-infecting geminiviruses and the fungi-infecting Sclerotinia sclerotiorum hypovirulence-associated DNA virus 1 and aNCV as within the insect-infecting Cripavirus genus. We hypothesize that these viruses originate from plant material ingested by caribou or from flying insects and that their preservation can be attributed to protection within viral capsids maintained at cold temperatures. To investigate the tropism of aCFV, we used the geminiviral reverse genetic system and introduced a multimeric clone into the laboratory model plant Nicotiana benthamiana. Evidence for infectivity came from the detection of viral DNA in newly emerged leaves and the precise excision of the viral genome from the multimeric clones in inoculated leaves. Our findings indicate that viral genomes may in some circumstances be protected from degradation for centuries.

Galloway J.M.,Golder Associates | Galloway J.M.,Geological Survey of Canada | Adamczewski J.,Natural Resources Canada | Schock D.M.,University of Calgary | And 6 more authors.
Arctic | Year: 2012

Alpine ice patches are unique repositories of cryogenically preserved archaeological artefacts and biological specimens. Recent melting of ice in the Selwyn Mountains, Northwest Territories, Canada, has exposed layers of dung accumulated during seasonal use of ice patches by mountain woodland caribou of the ancestral Redstone population over the past ca. 5250 years. Although attempts to isolate the DNA of known caribou parasites were unsuccessful, the dung has yielded numerous well-preserved and diverse plant remains and palynomorphs. Plant remains preserved in dung suggest that the ancestral Redstone caribou population foraged on a variety of lichens (30%), bryophytes and lycopods (26.7%), shrubs (21.6%), grasses (10.5%), sedges (7.8%), and forbs (3.4%) during summer use of alpine ice. Dung palynomorph assemblages depict a mosaic of plant communities growing in the caribou's summer habitat, including downslope boreal components and upslope floristically diverse herbaceous communities. Pollen and spore content of dung is only broadly similar to late Holocene assemblages preserved in lake sediments and peat in the study region, and differences are likely due to the influence of local vegetation and animal forage behaviour. The 5000-year legacy of summer use of alpine ice patches by mountain woodland caribou suggests that these small, long-lived features may be important for the health of caribou populations in the Selwyn/ Mackenzie Mountain range. © The Arctic Institute of North America.

Letts B.,Pennsylvania State University | Fulton T.L.,Pennsylvania State University | Stiller M.,Pennsylvania State University | Andrews T.D.,Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Center | And 3 more authors.
Arctic | Year: 2012

We examine the mitochondrial genetic stability of mountain woodland caribou (Rangifer tarandus caribou) in the Mackenzie and Selwyn Mountains, Northwest Territories, over the last 4000 years. Unlike caribou populations in the Yukon, populations in the Northwest Territories show no evidence for mitochondrial genetic turnover during that period, which indicates that they were not adversely affected by the widespread deposition of the White River tephra around 1200 years ago. We detect moderate genetic differentiation between mountain woodland and barren-ground caribou in both territories, lending support to the current subspecies designations. In addition, we identify moderate genetic differentiation between Northwest Territories and western Yukon mountain woodland caribou, suggesting that there has been minimal mixing of matrilines between these herds. © The Arctic Institute of North America.

Alix C.,University of Paris Pantheon Sorbonne | Hare P.G.,Government of Yukon | Andrews T.D.,Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Center | MacKay G.,Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Center
Arctic | Year: 2012

Discussions of the development of past hunting equipment generally focus on lithic and bone projectile points and foreshafts, as these are often the only elements remaining in archaeological sites. In the last 15 years, the archaeology of alpine ice patches has provided a unique opportunity to analyze hunting equipment over time and gain knowledge of the wooden elements on which the points are hafted. This paper describes the wood and morphometrical analysis of a collection of 27 arrow shafts from two ice patch regions of the western Canadian Subarctic. In both regions, two main categories of arrow shafts show the selection of specific pieces of wood, spruce (Picea sp.) on the one hand and birch (Betula sp.) on the other, with associated morphometrical characteristics. These shafts also share some characteristics that are distinct from those of Arctic and coastal arrow shafts. Shafts of pine (Pinus sp. sec. ponderosa) and hemlock (Tsuga sp.) were also identified in the southwestern Yukon Territory. The absence of correlation between the arrow shaft types and 14C dating raises the question of the significance of the arrow types and the potential for function, trade, or travel to explain the variation. © The Arctic Institute of North America.

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