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Nahanni National Park Reserve of Canada

Cultural Resource Management

A Cultural Resource Strategy is being developed to provide direction and guidance in identifying, monitoring and evaluating cultural resources within Nahanni National Park Reserve. Community input will have a role in the long-term monitoring and evaluation of the plan to ensure local interests and priorities are represented.

A limited inventory was conducted along the South Nahanni River corridor during the late 1970s and early 1980s. Four pre-contact sites were identified during this time. The history of occupation for the sites, however, has not been determined. Although 40 sites have been formally documented, many more have yet to be located. Examples of sites not formally documented include tent camps, a mooseskin boat and many cabin sites.

Prospector artifacts
Prospector artifacts
©Parks Canada / J.W.Borcoman

Nahanni National Park Reserve will be responsible for assessing the cultural and heritage value of four buildings, as well as a number of cabins. An example of an assessment is the documentation of hundreds of tiny paddles that have been carved by river travellers and hung in the old forestry cabin (a fairly recent cultural resource) in Deadmen Valley. Major erosion has occurred on the riverbank in front of the cabin and the cabin may become threatened over time. Preservation of the paddles may be as simple as removing them to another location, but some of their heritage value would be lost if they were removed from the park.

Cultural and land use practices over the past thousands of years have influenced the natural processes in the park and surrounding region. A better understanding of these practices can provide us with valuable information about ecological processes in this area over time. For example, elders shared information about caribou use in the Greater Nahanni Ecosystem. This information was incorporated into research of the range and habitat of woodland caribou.