Climate change is having a calamitous effect on Indigenous archeological sites in Canada’s North – University Affairs

by ahnationtalk on June 29, 20208 Views

JUN 29 2020

“We’re witnessing the disappearance of history,” says University of Toronto archeology professor Max Friesen, describing the destructive effects of climate change on archeological sites in Canada’s North. Dr. Friesen, who has done extensive fieldwork in the Mackenzie Delta region of the Northwest Territories, says that the accelerated pace of thawing and coastal erosion is creating a knock-on crisis.

As the top layers of permafrost melt, buried treasures are being exposed. “We’re finding perfectly preserved artifacts, including animal skins, bones, sinew and other organic materials that are thousands of years old,” says Dr. Friesen. “These are the sorts of artifacts you don’t find anywhere else in the world.”

Although this presents a windfall for archeologists, it also carries a heavy price, as the onset of warmer temperatures is uncovering more artifacts than they can cope with. “It’s both a blessing and a curse,” admits Dr. Friesen. “Now that they are being exposed to the elements, these once pristine sites are starting to decompose. The repercussions are pretty dire.”

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