Canada's Tentative List

Yukon Ice Patches, Yukon

The Yukon ice patches are a series of internationally significant archaeological sites in southern Yukon that provide a rare and comprehensive record of cultural and technological traditions of indigenous hunters spanning more than 7,500 years. Throughout the millennia, woodland caribou have congregated on these patches during summer months, making them critical harvest areas for Indigenous hunters. Hunting weapons that missed their mark became incorporated in to the snow and ice. Due to global warming, ice patches are now melting and revealing unprecedented collections of remarkably preserved ancient hunting tools and other artifacts. Fragile, organic tools seldom seen at archaeological sites are recovered annually by small teams of archaeologists and First Nation researchers. Perishable elements such as wood, sinew, feathers, adhesives and ochre, allow new insights into technology and technological change through time and provide new understandings of the accomplishments of northern Indigenous Peoples. The site places the Carcross/Tagish First Nation and Yukon Government at the vanguard of the emerging field of glacial archaeology, and provides a unique opportunity for scientific and intergenerational exchange.

The World Heritage criteria that best support this site are:

  • (iii) The Yukon ice patches provide an exceptional testimony of the cultural activities of Indigenous Yukon hunters and their interactions with caribou throughout most of the Holocene epoch.
  • (v) The Yukon ice patches demonstrate 7,500 years of traditional land use centered on the interaction of human beings, animals and ice. The evidence is found in the unique, fragile, organic specimens recovered from the melting ice each year.