What to do if you find an archaeological site

Finding a site

If you find an exposed or eroding archaeological site, contact the Yukon Archaeology Program. Phone: 867-667-5983, or toll free: 1-800-661-0408 ext 5983. Make sure to note the location.

On First Nation Settlement Land, contact the First Nation government office.

If you are working on a land development project, stop work at the site immediately and contact us.

It's against the law to remove an artifact from an archaeological or historical site without a permit. An artifact is an abandoned object of archaeological or historical interest that's more than 45 years old. The Government of Yukon keeps all archaeological and non-First Nation artifacts in public trust, unless they are found within First Nations lands or national parks.

Archaeological sites are often difficult to identify. Read our Handbook for the Identification of Heritage Sites and Features.

If you find human remains

There are many reasons human remains may be encountered on the land including:

  • disturbed burial sites;
  • missing persons cases; or
  • criminal activity.

It is important to report all found human remains as soon as possible. This helps to preserve the integrity of the site. Follow these steps:

If you're a member of the public

Immediately stop any activity at the site and report the site to the RCMP. Provide a photo and GPS location if possible.

If you have a land use permit or licence

Follow the directions laid out in your land use permit. Report the site immediately to the land manager or permitting authority. This authority is set out on the permit. The land manager will report the site to the RCMP.

The RCMP will notify the Office of the Yukon Chief Coroner if the site is of a forensic or criminal nature. If they suspect the site is a historic or First Nation burial, the RCMP will notify us and the First Nation(s) in whose Traditional Territory the site is located.

Read how you can protect burial sites in these best management practices.

Protect the site

Stop all activity on the site. Archaeological sites are extremely vulnerable. Yukon's thin soils may contain up to 14,000 years of history compacted into only the upper 20 to 30 cm of ground. Any activity which disturbs the ground can destroy an archaeological site.

Significance of archaeological sites in Yukon

Archaeological sites in Yukon have some of the earliest evidence of First Nations people in the Americas. There are thousands of archaeological sites in Yukon and they range in age from the Ice Age to the construction of the Alaska Highway. Sites may include scatters of stone tools, ancient hearths, Gold Rush artifacts or Second World War plane wrecks.

Working together, we can preserve and protect our history for the benefit of all Yukoners.

For more information on heritage sites, protection and reporting, contact the Yukon Archaeology Program.

Email: heritage.resources@gov.yk.ca
Phone: 867-667-5983 or toll free 1-800-661-0408 ext. 5983
Mail:
Government of Yukon
Yukon Archaeology Program (L-2A)
Box 2703
Whitehorse, Yukon Y1A 2C6