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    Gates Of The Arctic

    National Park & Preserve Alaska

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Landscape Archaeology at Agiak Lake

Inuksuk driveline near Agiak Lake
NPS/ A. Wilson

There are many ways to describe the unique landscape and archaeological features around Agiak Lake. However few have described them better than Aaron Wilson one of the archaeologists to study them. The following description is from his 2006 report...

"Perhaps the most fascinating story to be told at Agiak Lake revolves around the hundreds of sentinel-like inuksuit that stand watch over the lake. The rock cairns, positioned in complexes on either side of a valley, each totaling nearly a mile long and remarkably straight segments, were used like fences or scarecrows to skillfully direct herds of caribou along the length of the line and into Agiak Lake itself. Once in the lake, the caribou were deftly pursued by kayaking hunters and dispatched with long wooden lances tipped with razor-sharp stone spear points. The cooperation and expertise involved in a hunt such as this would have been matched by a keen knowledge of caribou behavior and an intimate knowledge of the surrounding landscape. What's more, archeological survey indicates that the caribou drivelines were repaired and modified for centuries, providing a stable caribou hunting technique for generations, perhaps millennia. Stories such as this and many others lay hidden away within the archaeological and ethnographic record of Agiak Lake."

In addition to these remarkable features there are numerous tent rings and cache pits around the lake which attest to the importance of the area to past inhabitants. The following links provide more details on what has been learned from studying the features at and around Agiak Lake.

The first is a scientific journal article co-authored by the Park archaeologist, Jeff Rasic and Aaron Wilson that discusses the broader patterns and implications of the archaeological features.

Settlement and Subsistence Patterns at Agiak Lake 2008 (pdf)

This article is also from scientific journal and focuses more specifically on the tent ring complexes found at the lake.

Tent Ring Settlements at Agiak Lake 2007 (pdf)

Did You Know?

A float plane landing on a lake in the park.

To access Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve, most people fly into the park on floatplanes that land on lakes or bush planes that can land on gravel bars.