Norton Tradition Alaska – 1000 BC – 800 AD

The Norton tradition developed around 1000 BC near Bering Strait. These people are successor of the Arctic Small Tool Tradition. They were followed by the Thule Tradition. Few archeologists even believe that Norton culture is a part of arctic small tool tradition and they co-existed with each other. Many of the evidence regarding this culture are obtained from various sites including Mackenzie River in North West Canada, various water bodies in Alaska, Point Barrow in South Alaska, Point Hope, Brooks River, and Cape Nome etc. These archeological sites have revealed tools and weapons like Harpoons, arrows, projectile points, blades, ceramics etc. Most of the tools were made up of ivory of bones of Antler. Apart from this these people also built Oil burning lamps and various vessels made up of clay like substances.

Norton Tradition (Alaska)


These people mostly created seasonal camps which were near coast or the lakes. The houses were made keeping the fact that they should fulfill all storage requirements. The houses were especially built in those regions which were rich in Salmon Fish.


The Ipiuatak people used to trade Iron and Ivory. Many of the trade routes are discovered between Mainland Asia and Alaska. These people used Iron especially in engraving it in various Ivory based decorative substances.

Rituals and Festivals

The Norton People used to use drums while dancing certain evidences indicates that there were public dance ceremonies in front of a fireplace. These people also used Mask for the purpose of cremation ceremony. The mask was put on the dead body.


These people mostly created decorative figures from Antler Bone or Ivory. These figures were especially human statues, animals head figure or sometimes very unusual figure. These people also made baskets and certain other objects using organic material.

Norton Tradition Tools made from Antler Bone or Ivory

Cultural Phases

The Norton Culture is divided into three cultural phases:

  • Choris Phase: This phase is the earliest phase in the Norton Tradition which existed from 1000 BC to 500 BC. This phase is mostly known for its artifacts especially organic material based substances like baskets, various pottery and vessels made from clay etc. It is also believed that during this phase these people hardly traded and they used to live very unsettled life in isolation.
  • Norton Phase: This tradition was mostly known for hunting and fishing which existed from 500 BC to 800 AD. They used to build more fine potteries, sharp projectile points etc. They started trading ivory. They were the most advanced cultural phase of their time and used pottery, oil lamps and slate artifacts.
  • Ipiuatak Phase: This tradition is mostly known for its ivory carving and marine hunting which existed from 100 AD to 800 AD. These people build very fine harpoons and lived a very settled life.

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