FIND MOVED TO ROYAL B.C. MUSEUM
Appointed to Oversee Kwaday Dän Sinchì Research
VICTORIA – The ancient
human remains recently discovered in the Tatshenshini-Alsek
Park have been moved to the Royal British Columbia Museum in
Victoria for further study.
Small Business, Tourism
and Culture Minister Ian Waddell and Chief Bob Charlie of the
Champagne and Aishihik First Nations (CAFN) announced that the
move is part of an agreement reached between the B.C. government
and the CAFN to jointly manage how the remains and associated
artifacts are handled and studied.
"The museum is a world-class
research centre, with state-of-the-art storage facilities, laboratories,
security and considerable experience in handling human remains,"
Waddell said. "I am pleased we have a facility in B.C. to handle
a project that promises to be of major significance not just
to British Columbia but to the Yukon and the international scientific
community as well."
Three B.C. teachers
made the discovery Aug. 14 in a glacier in Tatshenshini-Alsek
Park in northwestern B.C., adjacent to Alaska and Yukon. The
Champagne and Aishihik Elders named the find, believed to be
that of an ancient aboriginal hunter, Kwaday Dän Sinchì or "Long
Ago Person Found."
Under the agreement,
the CAFN and the ministry’s archaeology branch have set up a
management team with three members appointed from each group
to oversee the research process.
The first job of the
management team will be to assess the information on hand and
consider the significance of new data, such as the age of the
find, when available. In consultation with a scientific advisory
panel, the management team will develop a research strategy,
which is expected to take about three months. Following that,
requests for proposals will be accepted and reviewed, and then
detailed research projects will begin.
Many scientific disciplines
will be invited to undertake research on the find, for example
forensic anthropology, microbiology, DNA studies and cryobiology
(the study of the effects of temperature on organisms).
were recovered with Kwaday Dän Sinchì a skin robe, a hat, a
hunting spear, a leather sheath and various wooden artifacts
that may be parts of hunting tools. Some plant leaves and the
carcass of a moose were also discovered at the site, although
it’s not yet known if those are associated with the human remains.
The artifacts and
plant remains will also be the focus of much research, including
paleobotany (fossil plants) and the study of pollen. Further
archaeological work at the site of Kwaday Dän Sinchì is also
Champagne and Aishihik
First Nations government feels that this is an opportunity for
Yukon First Nations, especially the youth, to learn about the
history of their homeland, and who they are. Through the study
of Kwaday Dän Sinchì, First Nations will have a better understanding
of how their people lived on the land and faced the challenges
it presented them.
"Our oral history
has told us about the importance of this area as a travel route
and about the nearby villages on the Tatshenshini River," said
Chief Charlie. "Now Kwaday Dän Sinchì brings these stories to
The remains were originally
taken to Whitehorse because it was close to the park. However,
the Royal B.C. Museum was chosen as the most appropriate storage
facility for the period of scientific study.
The remains of Kwaday
Dän Sinchì will be returned to the Champagne and Aishihik First
Nations by Dec. 31, 2000, unless the management team agrees
to extend the date. If the findings show this person is from
another First Nation, the remains will be returned to that First
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Ministry of Small Business, Tourism & Culture
Royal B.C. Museum