Translator Disclaimer
1 November 2005 Tundra Game Drives: an Arctic-Alpine Comparison
Author Affiliations +

Stone fences and blinds built by prehistoric hunters to gather and ambush elk and bighorn sheep above timberline in the Colorado Front Range are similar in concept and function to structures built by the Copper Inuit and their predecessors for hunting caribou near Bathurst Inlet, in the Central Canadian Arctic. Four principal differences exist: (1) Circular blinds and continuous rock walls are more numerous in the Front Range than in the Arctic, where arcuate breastworks and lines of widely spaced cairns predominate. Differences in prey-species behavior are the most probable explanation. (2) Stone house foundations, meat-drying facilities, meat caches, kayak-storage racks, and fox and wolf traps occur near drive sites along caribou migration routes in the Bathurst Inlet region. The structures imply long-term habitation made possible by a plentiful meat supply. Comparable structures are absent above timberline in the Front Range because people retreated to warmer environments in winter, and because steep terrain and deep snow discouraged return visits to high-altitude caches. (3) The technique was adopted much earlier in Colorado than in the Central Canadian Arctic. The oldest Front Range drive systems were constructed while the Laurentide Ice Sheet still covered the Bathurst Inlet landscape. (4) Pedestrian game-drive hunting was abandoned in the Front Range soon after arrival of the horse (ca. a.d. 1700), but remained an integral part of Copper Inuit subsistence until the mid twentieth century. The rich ethnographic and oral history record of communal hunting in the Arctic is invaluable for interpreting the Colorado structures.

James B. Benedict "Tundra Game Drives: an Arctic-Alpine Comparison," Arctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Research 37(4), 425-434, (1 November 2005).[0425:TGDAAC]2.0.CO;2
Published: 1 November 2005

Back to Top