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12 September 2003
Ancient fish trap found in Alaska

While walking along the lower Chilkoot River (near Haines, Alaska, USA) just over a year ago, a Lutak resident noticed a pattern in some wooden stakes embedded on the bank. Some two dozen partially eroded posts of similar width and height were spaced almost strategically.
     The resident contacted local archaeologist Tom Prang, who determined the stakes were likely left over from a Native village that once thrived at the Chilkoot. He sent a stake to Florida's Beta Analytical for carbon dating. Turns out, the resident had come upon remnants of what appears to be a 2,100-year-old fish trap. It's the oldest known artifact discovered in the Chilkat Valley, said Sheldon Museum director Cynthia "C.J." Jones.
     "We might be looking at the center or one of the ends (of the fish trap), but because we don't know how much the river has changed over time or how much things have eroded, we're only seeing a snapshot of what used to be out there," Prang said. Jon Loring, an archaeologist who worked with the Alaska State Museum, said fish traps were traditionally used widely throughout the region. "(Traps) have been used all over the Northwest Coast culture area, from Yakutat down to Oregon," Loring said. The oldest dated fish trap is a 5,000-year-old found near Sandy Beach in Petersburg.

Source: Daily News Miner (6 September 2003)

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