Work on the log begins. Source: Yukon Canoe Project.
I just found an interesting blog that traces a community project to carve a Tlingit style dugout canoe on the banks of the Yukon River near Whitehorse:
Nineteen young Yukon carvers made history by creating a 30-foot red cedar dugout canoe. Under the leadership of Tlingit Master Carver Wayne Price, the carvers went on a journey of discovery.
An island on the east side of the Yukon River became their home for the next two months as went go back on the land to learn the traditional techniques for carving a dugout canoe.
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Artifacts from the Lu Zil Män Fish Lake site. Source: Yukon government.
The Yukon government has a good web site up about archaeological and oral historical projects in the Lu Zil Män Fish Lake area of the Kwanlin Dün First Nation’s territory. The SW Yukon is a fascinating area where inland Tlingit people ranged from the coast, producing entangled relations with the interior speakers of na-Dene languages.
It’s good to see that the site puts the oral testimony of elders first and the archaeology second – what we’d call the “direct historical” approach if we were in a classroom. This approach puts living people first in archaeology, using their insights to find locales and to interpret the uppermost layers. Then, as one digs deeper, memory and history become less detailed and environments were different, and increasingly more generalized explanations from archaeology and ethnology come to bear. The direct historical approach is usually ascribed to early researchers in the American SW, but a leading exponent and innovator was actually Frederica de Laguna, who began work on the Northwest Coast in the late 1920s, and had a 70 year active career. The direct historical approach fell out of favour in a period where archaeologists tried to be highly scientific and to seek generalizations about people, but recently there has been renewed interest in it, especially in a community-based archaeological idiom.
Anyway, the Lu Zil Män Fish Lake project looks like it was a lot of fun, culturally informed, and well integrated into the community, while the web site is well written for the non-specialist. My only complaint is the photos are rather washed out seeming and not very crisp or low resolution.
Find sites and excavation units. Source: Yukon government.