Fisherman Lake is a locality rich in archeological resources situated in the foothills of the Mackenzie Mountains in the extreme southwest corner of the Northwest Territories. Archaeological work began there in 1952, when R.S. MacNeish of the National Museums of Canada exposed a long and problematic history of human occupation extending from the early Holocene (ie, a warmer period that started about 10000 years ago) until historic times.
Of the 154 sites found and evaluated, only 10 have been excavated. The earliest occupations are poorly represented and difficult to interpret. By 6000 or 5000 BC the area seems to have been inhabited by a Northern Cordilleran/Plano culture moving north in the wake of optimal climatic conditions. These people may have been bison hunters, although no bone remains have been preserved. About 4000 BC, new people entered the area, probably from Alaska and the Yukon. They used a distinctive stone technology based on tiny stone blades known as "microblades." In fact, MacNeish's original work at Fisherman Lake provided the basis for a "Northwest Microblade Tradition," thought to be an important early stage in the prehistory of the interior northwest. Eventually, many of the more distinctive aspects of this technology disappeared, but these early microblade users may have been the ancestors of the Slavey, who still inhabit Fisherman Lake.
See also Archaeology.