This week’s episode of Wild Archaeology opens with a short animation that tells the story of Ch’itahuukaii the traveler, who fixed the giant man-eating animals to the proper size in order to safeguard his people. Once again, traditional storytelling is the basis for exploration and this time Dr. Rudy, Jacob and Jenifer are off to the Yukon to learn about Mega Fauna.
On the way to the dig site, we stop in Whitehorse to visit with Dr. Grant Zazula, a palaeontologist at the Yukon Beringia Interpretive Centre. Here, Jacob and Jenifer get acquainted with the remains of some of the mega creatures, like the woolly mammoth that used to roam Beringia. Dr. Zazula describes Beringia as an Ice Age land bridge that was a vast ice plain extending from Siberia well into North America. We learn extractable DNA is able to survive in the permafrost for tens of thousands of years, allowing geneticists to study how animals have evolved over time.
Then we continue our journey, traveling along the dirt roads of the far north to White River First Nations and the “Little John” site. It is here that we meet Dr. Norm Easton. Dr. Easton explains that “the program we run here is an interdisciplinary, multifaceted program” … “our first priority is [working with the people of White River]. Archaeology is always secondary.”
After a brief tour of the site, Jacob and Jennifer are able to get their hands dirty. They learn how to use the Total Station and are also introduced to grid work. At last, they set to digging and Jenifer locates some more recent obsidian flakes. This week, however, it is Jacob who finds the oldest specimen. Sadly, it is mishandled, but lessons are learned, we hope! I guess we will find out if Jacob can make amends next week in Part 2 of this Yukon adventure !
I cannot tell you how much I am enjoying Wild Archaeology. There is so much information presented but in such an engaging way. I have been telling all of my teacher friends about this show and encouraging them to tell fellow educators. Right now, so many teachers are struggling to incorporate more Indigenous content in their classrooms, but lacking contacts in neighbouring communities, they have not yet figured out how to do so in a respectful manner. This is a great place to start!
Wild Archaeology airs Tuesdays at 7:30 p.m. ET on APTN.