Archaeology is the name for the scientific methods for uncovering and interpreting the human past by using material remains to learn about how people once lived. It is often paired with other ways of knowing (such as Indigenous traditional knowledge) to learn about the past in the NWT. The GNWT is responsible for ensuring that archaeological resources – in the form of artifacts and sites – are protected from harm so that they can be used by communities and scientists to learn about old ways of life.

There are over 6,500 recorded archaeological sites in the NWT. This represents only a small portion of the total number of archaeological sites that likely exist, given the extensive areas of the territory which have yet to be surveyed for archaeological remains.

Archaeological research in the NWT is guided by the Archaeological Sites Act (Act) and Regulations.

The Act and Regulations apply to all lands and waters in the NWT other than those controlled by the federal government. Archaeological sites are protected by law; to make sure that no one can search for, excavate, alter, or otherwise disturb archaeological sites or artifacts without an archaeology permit.

Archaeological artifacts are conserved, stored, and displayed at the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre on behalf of the people of the NWT.