Migratory Bird Harvest in Northwestern Alaska: A Zooarchaeological Analysis of Ipiutak and Thule Occupations from the Deering Archaeological District

Madonna L. Moss and Peter M. Bowers


Until 2003, it was illegal to hunt migratory birds in Alaska during the spring and summer. Even though many Alaska Natives have a long history of hunting migratory birds, use of these resources is not well documented. Here we present our preliminary analyses of the bird remains recovered from the Deering Archaeological District (49-KTZ-169), located in Deering, Northwest Alaska. Relatively large bird assemblages from two sites (KTZ-299 and 300) provide information on the use of birds during both Ipiutak and Thule occupations dating between about 1300 and 800 years ago. We find strong evidence that the Ipiutak and Thule people inhabiting the sites relied heavily on migratory birds, including ducks, geese, and murres. Zooarchaeological analyses demonstrate that Alaska Natives and their ancestors have been using migratory birds in this region during the spring and summer for more than a dozen centuries.

  • Madonna L. Moss, Department of Anthropology University of Oregon, Eugene, Oregon, 97403-1218

  • Peter M. Bowers, Northern Land Use Research, Inc. P.O. Box 83990, Fairbanks, Alaska, 99708