The Arctic is a land of unrelenting mystery. Legends are created by lonely adventurers and our collective imagery abounds with accounts of vast forbidding landscapes. The elements there bring our species to the very edge of survival and only human culture has allowed it to carry on.
Today we know much more about this polar land than any of the great discoverers of the past could ever have dreamed. While this knowledge of the Arctic dispells some of the mystery of the land, it also gives us powerful tools to understand the human adventure that has been played out here for thousands of years.
To the people who have always inhabited the northern reaches of North America, the land was and is the source of life, not some cold and dark, wind-swept place filled with unknowns. It is the place from which to draw sustenance and warmth.
Many of the perceptions non-Northerners hold about the Arctic are based on a dearth of facts or a stubborn adherence to stereotypes and myths.
In order to better understand and appreciate the archaeological discoveries which were made during the course of the Northern Oil and Gas Action Plan's Archaeology Project, we offer some thumbnail sketches of the land, its history and its resources. While these are not intended to answer all of the questions a person may ask, a better familiarity with the environment is an essential point of departure for any expedition.
Because of the great diversity of the NOGAP research areas, the features of the Land have been described within the following broadly-defined regions: