Native Copper Innovation in the North


Native copper occurs in the Northwest Coast, western Subarctic, and Central Canadian Arctic and Subarctic. In all three regions there is archaeological evidence for its use by Hunter-Gatherers before the Contact Period. Since 2011, our project has been studying the innovation of native copper metallurgy in these three regions within a Behavioral Archaeology framework using data collected from: experimental archaeology, oral history, lead isotope analysis, research on museum collections using pXRF, government archaeological site databases, and grey literature. This project also has a community component, collaborating with the Native Alaskan and First Nations communities. Although the results of Pb isotope analysis of geological samples of copper from the Arctic and Subarctic are not encouraging, the large set of pXRF data suggests that this technique can be used to distinguish native copper from alloys such as brass and leaded materials and also relatively pure smelted copper. Additionally, this paper provides a brief overview of our results to date including a comparison of the use of copper by Hunter-Gatherers exhibiting differences in social complexityas well as thoughts on why and how copper innovation occurred in all three regions.

Cite this Record

Native Copper Innovation in the North. H. Kory Cooper, Robert Speakman, Antonio Simonetti, Matthew Pike, Garett Hunt. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 431772)


Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 14891