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Archaeological Field School

One of the central aspects of the Taloyoak Project was the archaeological survey of the Netsilik Lake and River area. During august 2004, the archaeology survey was conducted by archaeologist Ken Swayze, Ericka Chemok, a representative from IHT, and five students from the community: Sandy Oleekatalik, Nancy Paniloo, Peter Totalik, Ben Qilluniq and Kaylie Oleekatalik.

The survey team was in the field from the 14th to the 23rd of August, 2004 for a total of nine days. During that time the team surveyed both sides of the Netsilik River with all-terrain vehicles and a boat.

The Camp Qilluniq's Camp







When the team was not out on the land surveying they were hosted by Mary and Joseph Qilluniq at their camp Iglutalik. The Qilluniq's camp was well outfitted with three cabins, tow of which housed the team during their stay, shacks, a dock, drying racks, a walkway and an outhouse.

The girls were housed in one cabin, while Peter and Ken camped out in the other. The Qilluniq's son Ben joined the survey team to help guide the surveyors while out on the land.

Bad weather ~ Disturbing Sites

There is a belief that if an archaeological site or artifact is disturbed, the weather will turn bad. In fact bad weather seemed to follow the team for most of the archaeological survey.

Community members good naturally teased that we were responsible for the weather. They were however, very serious about not touching or tampering with anything we found that was old. This was an important message both for the survey team and community as many sites along the Netsilik River had been looted or disturbed with some sites badly damaged. When sites or artifacts are disturbed or damaged information about the people who had lived and used the area in the past is lost forever.

Radio Presentations to the Community Radio Presentation






After the survey was completed the team returned from Iglutalik to Taloyoak and joined the students who worked on the oral history section. Together the students gathered at the radio station to share their experiences with the community on a radio talk show. Many elders called in to the show to share their own storied and to challenge or discuss what others had to say. The elders also emphasized the importance of not disturbing old sites and artifacts.

Community Pride

Community members were pleased that this project had been successful and that the students had been able to participate and learn new skills. They hoped the students would continue on with their studies, particularly the science of archaeology.

The community expressed their pride in these students for participation in this project and sharing what they had learnt.

The Qilluniq's

Click for interview with the Qilluniq's


The Qilluniq's

As well as playing gracious hosts to the team, Martha and Joseph know the land and the history of the area very well.

Martha is very skilled rock and bone collector and goes out with Mary, their dog, at least once a day to add to her collection. She searches for unique rocks and bones that are in some way beautiful or have interesting humanlike qualities to them. they were both able to help answer questions and lead advice to the survey team as they set out on their various expeditions and forays.

Student Work

While at camp the students were responsible to help out and keep the camp organized and running smoothly. This included cleaning, cooking, gathering water, drying clothes, starting fires and lighting the coleman stoves. Many of these tasks were new to the students and they learned valuable skills for traveling and camping on the land.

Student Journals

As part of the field school students were required to keep a daily journal of their experiences. The journals help students record their adventures and personal insights. Many reflected on how archaeology and the recording of local history impacted the community.

Students wrote about their discoveries such as finding a caribou cache with the remains of a mummified caribou still intact. Peter described how he came across several inukshuks on the first day.

Nancy Paniloo Peter Totalik

Click on students to view their journals



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