Key areas of work and research for the Cultural Resources Division of North Cascades NPSC are outlined here and in the collections link on this site. You can also learn about projects through resource briefs on current research.
Even the most rugged and remote areas of the park contain sensitive archeological resources. Surveys are conducted to inventory archeological sites prior to any undertakings. Currently, 260 prehistoric sites have been identified, some dating older than 8,500 years. As a result of these studies, it is now widely recognized that the extensive subalpine landscape of the North Cascades contributed importantly to Northwest Coast Indian economies. Historic archeological sites include mines and mining camps, fire lookouts, sheep herder camps, sawmills, homesteads and a "lost" hotel.
Archeological sites are test excavated to assess their significance to the National Register of Historic Places. These excavations have contributed new and unanticipated information about indigenous use of the mountains, including the use of alpine obsidian sources in NOCA for the last 5,000 years; the establishment of regular travel routes for the movement of resources and people; the exploitation of mountain goats and other native fauna and flora; a geologic record of Cascade volcano eruptions which are used to mark the timing of both human and climatic events; and a radiocarbon chronology providing a timescale for human uses, natural events, and climatic changes in the North Cascades. Recent research at Cascade Pass has yielded a wealth of data about human activity spanning the last 9,600 years.