Early Human Settlement in Arctic Alaska

What Are They Doing?

Fluted projectile points are small stone tools created from rock that were used by early humans as knives, arrowheads, or both. Finding, interpreting, and dating fluted projectile points can help archaeologists learn more about the earliest humans to inhabit the Americas.

On this project, the team looked for fluted projectile points at the Raven Bluff Site in northwest Alaska to learn more about the early inhabitants of Alaska and the arctic. Fossil plants also at the site helped the researchers determine the age of these artifacts, which were estimated to be from the late Pleistocene age or about 10,000 years old.

This research helped lead to important discoveries about the timing and settlement of humans in the New World. In addition, it helped build knowledge about how people used these tools, hunted, and survived during this period of time.

Where Are They?

The field team met in Fairbanks, Alaska and flew by chartered aircraft to a private airport at the Red Dog Mine. From the Red Dog Mine, the team and their equipment and supplies were shuttled about 50 km by helicopter where a field camp was set up near the Raven Bluff archaeological site in northwestern Alaska.

Expedition Map


The students are especially excited about their archaeology excavation behind our school, Foothills Academy in Wheat Ridge. So far they have found a pair of glasses, bits of old bottles and pottery, rusty chunks of metal and several old marbles. We have discussed how far back in the history of the area these artifacts go. Lauren is desperate to find something horse-related! Foothills Academy third graders work hard in their archaeology excavation behind the school. Just like professional archaeologists, Matthew and Aliya carefully examine the items in their screen to make sure none are...
Tour through history
During our tour through 45-million years of Jurassic and Cretaceous Colorado history, we spotted this lumbering stegosaurus! The kids piled out to meet a bronze friend at the Dinosaur Ridge visitors center. What a great week at Foothills Academy! It's only our second week back after the summer but we already did some field work to tour 45-million years of Colorado history from the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods and started an archaeology excavation behind the classroom! The students work in their field crews to set up the grids for their 5-unit excavation behind our school, Foothills...
Bouncing Baby
Ahhhhh! I'm home and well-rested after the long journey from Alaska. I'm typing in the kitchen while little baby Holt plays with a rattle in the next room. I just finished a bowl of cereal with fresh strawberries - yum! It's good to be back. I haven't had to put on mosquito repellent for 5 days! Here's little Holt, happy to have Daddy back form Alaska. Actually, I think mom is even more happy to have some help again! What an adventure it was. I've been telling everyone about the helicopter and flight suits, the grizzlies, moose and musk ox we saw, the seal meat we ate with Stanley from...
Radio KOTZ
Here I am preparing for the radio interview on KOTZ 720 a.m. this morning. Right before my interview, the DJ read the Mini Tundra Telegraph which is local news updates for the 11 nearby Inupiat villages. The radio interview went great! The first DJ I met this morning, Bob, wasn't sure what interview I was there for, but then another DJ came - Johnson - and he was game to do it as planned. We chatted for more than 30 minutes and went through a nice description of the project. Johnson asked a great question. He said, "We've seen a lot of archaeologists come through, but we never see the...
Found Point
Great news from the dig site: They have found another fluted point base! This is not the point the team recently found - it's a bifacial tool which was found at the site in previous years. I don't have photos of the tool they found so this is a stand in. But who knows, maybe the same person made both tools? Bill called the bunkhouse in Kotzebue to give me the update from camp. His voice sounded different over the satellite phone but I could hear the excitement in his voice. Apparently Jess found it in the screen and it looks a lot like the one they found last year. It's made of gray chert...

Expedition Resources

Project Information

13 July 2010 to 5 August 2010
Location: Raven Bluff Site near Kivalina, Alaska
Project Funded Title: Paleoindian Adaptations in Arctic Alaska Viewed from the Raven Bluff Site

Meet the Team

Karl Horeis's picture
Foothills Academy
Wheat Reidge, CO
United States

Karl Horeis is a native of Portland, Oregon where he grew up camping on the coast, exploring the high desert, hiking the Columbia Gorge and Cascade Mountains, and reading the books at Powell's Bookstore. Being exposed to both varied ecosystems and the landscape of good stories sparked his drive to pursue a Journalism degree at Western Washington University in Bellingham, Washington. Subsequently, Mr. Horeis traveled to more than 20 countries and wrote for the Nevada Appeal, Associated Press, Yoga Journal, and ESPN.com before taking a job in Antarctica working for the National Science Foundation.

It was in Antarctica where he met his wife, Kitty, a teacher. Together they sailed across the Pacific Ocean before returning to Colorado where Mr. Horeis joined his wife in teaching, earning a Masters in Education from the University of Colorado. He loves teaching third and fourth graders at Foothills Academy in Wheat Ridge where he asks his students to "Create Solutions – Not Problems" on frequent outings and adventures. Mr. Horeis' hobbies include sailing, climbing, and illustrating his travel journals. His latest adventure is in parenting as he welcomed baby boy Holt into his family in March, 2010.

Jeff Rasic's picture
Museum of the North and National Park Service
Fairbanks, AK
United States

Dr. Jeff Rasic specializes in prehistoric stone tool technology and the archaeology of northern hunter-gatherers. He is particularly interested in how the earliest people of the North made a living at the end of the last ice age. He is currently the acting curator of Archaeology at the University of Alaska Museum of the North, and an archaeologist at the National Park Service in Fairbanks. He has worked in the Caribbean, and throughout the United States, and since 1995 has focused on field work and research projects in Alaska, especially the northern and interior portions of the state.

William Hedman's picture
Bureau of Land Management
Fairbanks, AK
United States

Bill Hedman is the archaeologist for the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Cental Yukon Field Office based in Fairbanks, Alaska. Bill has been working in archaeology for about 20 years, over 15 of which have been spent conducting fieldwork in Alaska. This work has taken him from the tip of the southeast panhandle to the Aleutian Islands to the North Slope of Alaska and many points in between. Being involved in everything from federal permitting for mineral exploration along the Dalton Highway to helicopter surveys in the DeLong Mountains is typical for Bill's field seasons. His favorite part of the job is figuring out how to get several thousand pounds of gear, people, fuel, and aircraft to some of the most remote corners of Alaska to find and test archaeological sites.