14,000 Old Heiltsuk Village Site Found in British Columbia. Could it be the Oldest in North America?
An ancient archaeological discovery on Triquet Island on B.C.'s Central Coast affirms the Heiltsuk Nation’s oral tales. The newly found village site is estimated to be three times as old as the Great Pyramid at Giza and among the most ancient human settlements in North America, as the researchers from the Hakai Institute suggest.
New Find Affirms Oral Tales About Heiltsuk Nation
"Heiltsuk oral history talks of a strip of land in that area where the excavation took place. It was a place that never froze during the ice age and it was a place where our ancestors flocked to for survival," William Housty, a member of the board of directors for the Heiltsuk Resource Management Department, told CBC News . According to an analysis of charcoal recovered from a hearth around 2.5 meters (8.2 ft.) below the surface, it is believed that the site has been inhabited for about 14,000 years, a fact that makes it one of the most ancient First Nations settlements unearthed. "This find is very important because it reaffirms a lot of the history that our people have been talking about for thousands of years," Housty added.
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Josh Vickers, of the Heiltsuk First Nation and the archeological team, holds up a rare 6,500-year-old carved wooden bi-point. ( Joanne McSporran )
Find Could Give New Meaning to the First Nations Concept of Time Immemorial
The excavation on Triquet Island (an island within British Columbia, Canada) has produced exceptionally unique artifacts, including a wooden projectile-launching device called an atlatl, compound fish hooks, and a hand drill used for lighting fires, as Alisha Gauvreau, a PhD student at the University of Victoria that contributed to uncover the find, told Vancouver Sun. Gauvreau claims the site could give a new meaning to the First Nations concept of time immemorial. “When First Nations talk about time immemorial, it just goes to show how far back the occupation of this land goes back in deep time," she told CBC News .
Alisha Gauvreau holds up the 6,000-year-old hand-drill (fire-lighting tool). ( Alisha Gauvreau )
Gauvreau, obviously excited with the results of the excavation so far, explains how the new findings could change history, specifically North American history. According to the most acceptable theory, it is believed that the first people who “invaded” the Americas, came from Asia over an Alaskan land bridge through an ice-free corridor east of the Rockies and from them found their way to what is now Canada. Gauvreau now suggests that this theory could be false, "The alternative theory, which is supported by our data as well as evidence that has come from stone tools and other carbon dating, is people were capable of travelling by boat. From our site, it is apparent that they were rather adept sea mammal hunters," she told CBC News .
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The conjoined ice sheets from the Rockies (the Cordillera ice sheet) and eastern Canada (the Laurentide ice sheet) blocked Alaska. ( University of Maryland )
Evidence Could Help in Future Negotiations
Concluding, Housty points out the scientific significance of the new find and how it could play a crucial role in the future negotiations over land title and rights. As he said to CBC:
"When we do go into negotiations, our oral history is what we go to the table with. So now we don't just have oral history, we have this archeological information. It's not just an arbitrary thing that anyone's making up ... We have a history supported from Western science and archeology."
The Heiltsuk Nation says the archaeological find which supports their oral history will help support their claims for land title and rights. ( Heiltsuk Nation )
Gauvreau presented her team's findings at the Society for American Archeology conference in Vancouver earlier this week.
Top Image: Members of the archeology team, from left to right, John Maxwell, Alisha Gauvreau, and Seonaid Duffield work on excavating the site. Source: Joanne McSporran