In August 1999, three hunters discovered
the frozen remains of an ancient person at the edge of a glacier in
BC's Tatshenshini-Alsek Park, within the traditional territory of the
Champagne and Aishihik First Nations (CAFN). We now know this represents
the oldest preserved human remains ever discovered in North America.
In an emergency meeting of
elders and members, the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations agreed
efforts should be made to learn something about this person. They named
the find Kwaday Dän Sinchi, meaning 'long ago person found.'
Soon after the discovery,
an agreement was worked out between the Ministry of Small Business,
Tourism and Culture and the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations about
the management of Kwaday Dän Sinchi. The agreement ensures cultural
concerns are respected while recognizing the significant scientific
considerations inherent in a discovery of this nature.
Over the past year, scientists
and members of the CAFN have initiated several biological and cultural
research projects to learn more about Kwaday Dän Sinchi. Initial
radiocarbon dating indicates these artifacts are roughly 550 years old,
predating Christopher Columbus' voyage to the New World, as well as
being 300 years before first known European contact on the Northwest