Air photo of the Iqaluktuuq region, between Ferguson Lake and Wellington Bay. Important occupation sites on both sides of the river extend back over 3,000 years.
MODERN INUIT — 1500 AD - TODAY
From 1999 to 2010, the Pitquhirnikkut Ilihautiniq / Kitikmeot Heritage Society and the University of Toronto collaborated on a project combining traditional knowledge and archaeology at Iqaluktuuq, near Cambridge Bay. Iqaluktuuq is a river valley remembered by Elders as a special place in the landscape – every summer it had a huge run of Arctic char, and every fall large numbers of caribou crossed the river on their way south. Over the project’s 12 years, teams of southern and Inuinnait archaeologists studied large and important sites spanning over 3,000 years of the region’s ancient history.
The cultural history of Iqaluktuuq is divided into several periods. For the past 750 years, Iqaluktuuq was inhabited by Inuit, including their early ancestors who are known as “Thule Inuit”. Before Inuit, the land was occupied by very different people whom Inuit knew as “Tuniit”, who first arrived in the region over 4000 years ago. Archaeologists call Tuniit by several names, with later Tuniit called Dorset, and the most ancient Tuniit known as Pre-Dorset. Through elders’ knowledge, and archaeology, we can begin to understand something about how these ancient people lived.