Sachs Harbour elders, youth examine ancient Banks Island artifacts

Youth and elders from Sachs Harbour are in Yellowknife this week examining 3,500 years of human history through artifacts found on Banks Island. Archaeologists hope to 3D print copies of the artifacts, ultimately creating a permanent display in the community.

Lisa Hodgetts hopes to create copies of finds with 3D printer, permanent display in Sachs Harbour

Archaeologist Lisa Hodgetts speaks to Sachs Harbour youth about needles found during her study of Banks Island. She's unearthed artifacts that are up to 3,500 years old. (CBC)

Elders and youth from Sachs Harbour, N.W.T., are in Yellowknife this week to examine some of the oldest artifacts ever found in the Canadian Arctic.

Archaeologist Lisa Hodgetts, an associate professor at the University of Western Ontario, is leading a five-year study on the entire human history of Banks Island in the Northwest Territories — which spans 3,500 years.
Hodgetts says that she hopes to create copies of the artifacts using a 3D printer - they're too fragile to be displayed outside a museum - and create a permanent display in Sachs Harbour. (CBC)

It's the island the community is located on, and Hodgetts wants Sachs Harbour to be involved in her work.

"All of these things are from their home," she said. "This is their heritage, and I think it is really important that people have access to it and learn about it.

"Certainly, the elders all think it is really important that the youth understand their history and their past. So we are trying to help make that happen."

Lena Wolki, one of the elders who made the trip to Yellowknife, is excited that the community's youth were included in the trip.

"I am really happy they are here," she said. "They have never seen this kind of stuff before. They never see these kinds of tools before. They have never seen needles made out of nothing. I am really happy."

'So different from back then'

Mariah Lucas, who is from Sachs Harbour, worked with Hodgetts on Banks Island last summer, and is fascinated with how different life must have been compared to the modern day.

"It's so different from back then to today," she said. "And it gives us an idea of how we used to live in our culture."
This kamik, found on Banks Island, is estimated to be 2,500 years old. Elder Lena Wolki recognizes it, though: 'I used to make them with my mom.' (CBC)

One of the many rare finds Hodgetts' team unearthed is a nearly 2,500-year-old kamik, which archaeologists believe is from a pre-Dorset culture. That would mean it comes from a people not related to Banks Islands' current inhabitants, the Inuvialuit.

Despite that, the boot still looks familiar to Wolki.

"I grew up with that kind of boot," she said. "So it's not new to me. It's not surprising what they are made of. I used to make them with my mom."

Hodgetts says that because the artifacts are too fragile to be displayed outside a museum, she hopes to make copies of them using 3D printers, with a goal of having a permanent display in Sachs Harbour for everyone in the community to enjoy.

"All of these things are from their home," she said. "This is their heritage, and I think it is really important that people have access to it and learn about it."


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