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Tochak-McGrath Discovery: Three precontact individuals from the Upper Kuskokwim River, Alaska

Author(s): Robert Sattler ; Thomas Gillispie ; Carrin Halfmann ; Angela Younie

Year: 2017

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Three precontact individuals inadvertently discovered in the village McGrath, Alaska provide a novel understanding of human history of the Upper Kuskokwim River region of Eastern Beringia. Collaboration between the McGrath Village Council, MTNT, Inc. and Tanana Chiefs Conference enabled a community research endeavor that has yielded a radiocarbon age estimate of c. 600-700 cal BP, isotopic dietary reconstruction suggesting a strong reliance on anadromous salmon, rare dental traits including a two-rooted lower canine and a fourth molar, and a population relationship similar to modern Alaska Natives through mtDNA (A2a and A2 root) and yDNA (Q). The three individuals are intergenerational (c. 30, 20, 2-3 years of age) and shared a similar high marine diet. Additional faunal remains at the multi-component site include dog (C. lupus familiaris), bear (Ursus sp.), beaver (Castor sp.) and burbot (Coregonus sp.). Situated in the alluvial floodplain or the Kuskokwim River, the context suggests the Tochak family drowned together and were buried rapidly by natural sedimentation processes. The results of interdisciplinary research on the Tochak McGrath site provide rare insights into the precontact life-ways of Alaska Natives in the upper reach of the Kuskokwim River basin.

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Tochak-McGrath Discovery: Three precontact individuals from the Upper Kuskokwim River, Alaska. Robert Sattler, Thomas Gillispie, Carrin Halfmann, Angela Younie. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 430443)


Spatial Coverage

min long: -169.717; min lat: 42.553 ; max long: -122.607; max lat: 71.301 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 16701

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America