National Park Service


Date of this Version



Midwest Archeological Center Occasional Studies No. 35 Volume 1 (2010)


In 2005, SITK invited the National Park Service’s (NPS) Midwest Archeological Center (MWAC) to conduct a Systemwide Archeological Inventory Program (SAIP) parkwide inventory at the park’s Fort Site Unit. This unit incorporates 57 acres of rainforest and nearly 55 acres of wetlands, Indian River channel, and tidal flats. The SAIP’s (and the SITK project’s) goals are to conduct systematic, scientific research to locate, evaluate, and document archeological resources on National Park system lands. Its objectives are to: 1) determine the nature and extent of archeological resources in park areas; 2) record and evaluate those resources in the Archeological Sites Management Information System (ASMIS) database; 3) include nominating eligible properties for listing in the National Register of Historic Places; and 4) recommend appropriate strategies for conserving, protecting, preserving in situ, managing, and interpreting those resources.

Four years of inventory were projected to complete the inventory. The first year, 2005, was scheduled for metal detecting, geophysical, and hand-excavated shovel testing surveys. The second field season, in 2006, focused on shovel testing with the goal of completing archeological inventory over as much of the Fort Unit as possible. In 2007, shovel testing was completed and limited test excavations were conducted at select locations where prehistoric and historic features had been previously identified. The final year, 2008, saw additional test excavations at the Fort Clearing, presentations about the project in a regional conference, and preparation of a final report to the park. Seventeen new sites were recorded, one previously recorded site was updated, with 1787 artifacts and 49 soil, charcoal, and other samples recovered and cataloged.

Locating the 1804 Kiks.adi fort, Shis’ki-Noow and its associated 1804 battleground has been of primary importance to the park and this inventory. Metal detection and geophysical inventories were able to eliminate one proposed location for the fort. None of the inventory methods were able to confirm the fort’s location at its traditionally acknowledged site in the Fort Clearing largely due to massive disturbances there by the National Park Service itself. The metal detection inventory, however, successfully identified the battlefield as at the Fort Clearing and areas northwest of the clearing. This, along with the data from the 1958 excavations by Hadleigh-West, points to the Fort Clearing as the most likely location for the Kiks.adi fort.

In addition, this project has accomplished one of the few 100% archeological inventories for a park in the National Park system and the first such 100% inventory in the Alaska Region. This report provides an overview of the environment, history, and archeology of the Fort Unit. It details the methodology of the work undertaken, reviews the data derived from that work, and provides an interpretation of the data within the framework of the culture history of the Sitka Tlingit and Southeast Alaska region. Sites were evaluated with regard to condition, disturbance levels, and threats. Eligibility for nomination to the National Register of Historic Places was determined through an examination of appropriate eligibility criterion, temporal association, physical integrity, data potential and determination of significance. Finally, recommendations are made with regard to the park’s future scheduling of site condition assessments and possible interpretive options.