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Taloyoak Archaeological and Oral History Project

This project first began in October of 2003, when Inuit Heritage Trust (IHT) held their annual General Meeting in Taloyoak. At that meeting, community members described an area near town that had many stories attached to it.

Many of the stories were considered to be ghost stories, and the community wanted to learn whether archaeological evidence could match and support any of the information told in those stories. In addition, the area had been looted over the years and people were concerned that important history was being lost.

As the initiative for the project came form the community, IHT was more than willing to assist Taloyoak. After discussion with community members and the hamlet council, IHT decided to go ahead and plan a project. The request resulted in a combined archaeology and oral history project led by two experts, Ken Swayze and David Pelly.

The community was very excited about the project, especially because it would involve students who would be trained in surveying archaeological sites and interviewing elders in the community.

Finding the Connections Finding the Connections





The Taloyoak Archaeological and Oral history Project was meant to explore oral stories as well as archaeological sites within the Netsilik area helping the community to better understand their heritage.

The students who participated gained confidence in identifying features at sites, became comfortable interviewing elders who lived in the Netsilik River area, and where able to match the two aspects when the Elders told stories out on the land. One of the most notable interview sessions occurred at the important site of the Thunder House. This site was central to many of the oral narratives of the area.

Student Involvement Taloyoak Students







The project was successful in supporting community involvement and providing training for students in both archaeological survey and interviewing work. By having students from Taloyoak participate, the knowledge and skills would stay within the community and hopefully enable them to continue doing similar work in the future.

Sandy Oleekatalik, Peter Totalik, Nancy Paniloo, Kaylie Oleekatalik and Ben Qilluniq were involved in the archaeological survey and camping out at Iglutalik. In town doing interviews were Annie Oleekatalik and Peggy Itunga.

Spring of 2004

This project was organized over the spring with fieldwork and interviews planned for August. Some interviewing work continued into September. Ken Swayze was the archaeologist who worked in the field with the students and IHT. David Pelly was the oral historian who worked with the students conducting interviews with Elders.

Planning for the future Projects

This project was an exercise in building capacity and confidence in the knowledge and skills within the community.
Building on this years work, IHT helped community members draft proposals for a similar project for the next summer. This time the community would organized and operate the entire project.


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