Inukshuk: Caribou Drive Lanes on Southern Victoria Island, Nunavut, Canada

Jack W. Brink

Abstract

Caribou drive systems made of stone lines and cairns [inuksuit] are a common feature of the far north but have been little studied by archaeologists. Two communal caribou kill sites from southern Victoria Island, Nunavut, Canada are discussed and illustrated. The Eggington site is a single-line drive where herds of caribou were directed through a saddle between two hills and killed from shooting pits. The POD site is a V-shaped funnel with two prominent lines of cairns and stone walls ending with opposing shooting pits. The sites, of uncertain age, are similar to those described by Jenness for the historic Caribou Inuit. Critical aspects of landscape and caribou behavior/biology that were manipulated to achieve the kills include the nature of the terrain, sense of smell and eyesight, wind, and the reaction of caribou to motion. Caribou drives, though often devoid of artifacts, have the power to reveal the sophisticated systems of knowledge that enabled successful communal kills.

  • Jack W. Brink, Provincial Museum of Alberta, 12845-102 Avenue, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

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