Deadman Lake

Upper Tanana archaeology around Northway

The late William “Bill” Sheppard was a field researcher who focused on Alaska Native traditional lands, in the Upper Tanana River Valley region near Tok, Tetlin, Northway and Tanacross.  His work in the 1990s and early 2000s focused on surveying and excavating Athabascan sites that existed before right before and after Russian-American colonization.  He collected extensive field notes, photographs and partially cataloged artifact collections from many of these sites.  

TCC Archaeology staff worked with Northway Natives and the BIA ANCSA historical places and cemetery sites program to re-accession, identify, and analyze artifacts and field notes into a written technical report describing Sheppard’s field research.

Deadman Lake

Deadman Lake area was the focus of Sheppard’s research in the 2000s.  The area contains a shallow lake surrounded by a large wetland of the Chisana River.   Deadman Lake contains numerous archaeological sites that have existed as far back as 6,000 years ago.  The lake shore is made up of vegetated sand dune landforms that contain a thick layer of volcanic ash that came from the eruption of Mt. Churchill around 1,850 years ago.  

The TCC Archaeology Program has conducted fieldwork in cooperation with Burchell High School and Yukon College at the Deadman Lake site. Below the cultural zone they have discovered freshwater land snails dated to around 15,000 years ago and the remains of arctic ground squirrel that may be even older.

Publications and Collaborations

The early stages of this project were supported by BIA ANCSA funding and the initial collection management was completed in collaboration with the University of Alaska Museum of the North and Northern Land Use Research.

The TCC Archaeology Program’s research and community field school programs at Deadman Lake have been presented at multiple conferences, most recently the annual meetings of the Alaskan Anthropological Association and the Canadian Archaeological Association.