BLM Alaska Archaeology

The BLM in Alaska manages thousands of archaeological sites throughout Alaska spanning nearly 15,000 years in age. They contain fascinating evidence of earlier people with different cultures who lived in what is today Alaska.

That evidence includes remains of their distinctive tools, traces of their ancient dwellings, and other evidence that can be used to help us know more about these prehistoric people and how they lived. Also, archaeological sites on BLM-managed lands in Alaska bear evidence of more recent land use by people from historic times about whom there are contemporary written records.

Thus, archaeological sites in Alaska range from over 14,000 years old, to more recent historic sites from the 20th century. They also include sites from the Russian Period that ended in 1867, to those from late 19th and early 20th century gold rushes, to sites within the living memory of many Americans today.

Since the time of Alaska’s statehood in 1959, many significant archaeological discoveries in Alaska on BLM-managed lands have revolutionized our understanding of this state’s most ancient people. They are helping answer the enduring question in archaeology: "When and how did the first people come to the Americas?”

Below is a sample of some of the significant prehistoric and historic archaeological sites managed by the BLM in Alaska today:

Mesa Site

Field camp by Mesa site

Used as early as 14,000 years ago, this ancient game lookout site, sits on a high mesa-like formation on the northern flank of the Brooks Range Mountains.  Ancient stone projectile point made by PaleonIndians are similar to those found in earliest archaeological sites in the western continental United States. Explore the Mesa Site

Raven Bluff

Archeologists on top of Raven Bluff excavating artifacts

Over 10,000 years old, the Raven Bluff site, in northern Alaska, dates back into the PaleoIndian period. This important archaeological site helps us understand more about the earliest inhabitants of North America. Explore the Raven Bluff site

Tangle Lakes Archaeological District

Southwest Tangle Lakes Archaeological District near Maclaren River

The oldest of the more than 600 recorded sites in the Tangle Lakes region of central Alaska are over 10,000 years old. They provide evidence of ancient hunters using an ice-dominated landscape into more recent times. Explore the Tangle Lakes Archaeological District

Sitka Blockhouse

Watercolor painting of the blockhouse and church in Sitka

The BLM manages the Sitka Blockhouse, a​n early 1960s replica of a Russian fortification for the town of Sitka, which was once the capital of Russian America. The original structure was part of a defensive stockade built around Sitka in the early 1800s, with an historic Russian period cemetery nearby. Explore the Sitka Blockhouse

Campbell Tract WWII

WWII crew assembling quonset hut

During World War II (1941-1945) the Campbell Tract in southeastern Anchorage, Alaska played a military role in the war.  Remnants of bomber parking pads and taxiways, building foundations, foxholes, and defensive earthworks can still be seen today.  Explore the history of Campbell Tract

Fort Egbert

A replica cannon and sign next to a gravel road

The U. S. Army’s establishment in 1899 of Fort Egbert on the Yukon River, a few miles from Canada, was to bring profound changes to the region and reshape Alaska's ties to the rest of the nation. Explore Fort Egbert and plan your visit

Iditarod National Historic Trail

Historic photo of Eric Johnson behind his dog sled pulled by dog team carrying U.S. Mail near Portage, Alaska

Today’s Iditarod Trail, a symbol of frontier travel and once an important artery of Alaska’s winter commerce, served a string of mining camps, trading posts, and other settlements founded between 1880 and 1920, during Alaska’s Gold Rush Era. Explore the Iditarod National Historic Trail

Steele Creek

Steele Creek Roadhouse

Dating back to 1898, in its day, the small settlement at Steele Creek served vital needs along the main overland trail between the historic towns of Eagle, along the Yukon River, and Chicken, in the Fortymile drainage. Explore the Steele Creek Historical Site

Program Highlights

Scientific Reports

Technical reports

Alaska BLM Technical Report 02     
Fort Egbert and the Eagle Historic District: Results of Archaeological and Historic Research, Summer 1977 
Shinkwin, et al. 1978 

Alaska BLM Technical Report 56 
Copper River Places: A Report on Culturally-Important Places to Alaska Native Tribes in Southcentral Alaska 
Kari, Tuttle. 2005 

Open File Reports

Alaska BLM Open File Report 2  
Archaeological Investigations of the DeLong Mountains, Northwest Alaska  
Smith. 1983 

Alaska BLM Open File Report 3  
Archaeological Reconnaissance in the Central Arctic Management Area 
Smith. 1983 

Alaska BLM Open File Report 9  
Denali Mine on Valdez Creek, South Central Alaska: A Cultural Resource Evaluation  
Walton, McCaffrey. 1984 
Alaska BLM Open File Report 19  
Beaver Creek National Wild River Cultural Resources Inventory  
Will. 1986 
Alaska BLM Open File Report 49  
Mining History of the Ruby-Poorman Mining District 
L'Ecuyer. 1993 
Alaska BLM Open File Report 57  
Cultural Resource Inventory in the Bendeleben and Darby Mountains, Seward Peninsula, Alaska 
Smith, Vreeman. 1995 

Alaska BLM Open File Report 61  
Prospecting and Mining Activity in the Rampart Manley Hot Springs – Fort Gibbon Mining Districts of Alaska, 1894-present 
L’Ecuyer. 1997 
Alaska BLM Open File Report 64  
The Flat Historical Building Survey Report: Flat Alaska 
Buzzell. 1997 
Alaska BLM Open File Report 66  
Flat and Iditarod 1993-1995 Oral History Interviews  
Buzzell. 1997 
Alaska BLM Open File Report 86  
The Mesa Site: Paleo Indians Above the Arctic Circle 
Kunz, Bever, Adkins. 2003 
Alaska BLM Open File Report 109  
Hills Brothers Coffee Can Chronology Field Guide  
Lanford, Mills. 2006