For generations, people of the Heiltsuk Nation tell stories of an ancient settlement that survived the Ice Age. This group of people predates many ancient civilizations and could tell of a different history than more popular theories on North Americans.
Archaeologists from the University of Victoria, Hakai Institute and the Heiltsuk Nation unearthed what seems to be this legendary settlement during an excavation on Trinquet Island along British Columbia's central coast, according to a report from CBC News. Discovered in the traditional territory of the Heiltsuk, the village is dated to exist roughly 14,000 years ago, during the last Ice Age where glaciers blanketed most of the continent.
"Heiltsuk oral history talks of a strip of land in that area where the excavation took place," William Housty, a member of Heiltsuk Nation, explained. "It was a place that never froze during the ice age and it was a place where our ancestors flocked to for survival."
Finally, this latest excavation proves the stories that have passed through the Heiltsuk generations. The new information will help the indigenous people with future negotiations of land titles and rights.
"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 said of the excavation's significance to their culture. "So now we don't just have oral history, we have this archaeological information. It's not just an arbitrary thing that anyone's making up ... We have a history supported from Western science and archaeology."
One of the researchers of the find, Alisha Gauvreau of the University of Victoria and Hakai Institute, revealed that the team was able to unearth some artifacts like wooden tools as well as charcoal flakes from a hearth that they sent for carbon dating.
The discovery of this ancient settlement in Canada also paints a different picture on the history of North Americans. Many believe that humans arrived in the Americas from Asia, crossing a bridge from Russia to Alaska on foot, according to a report from IFLS. From here, they were able to make it to eastern and central Canada. However, the study offers a different analysis, saying humans first moved down the coast using boats.
"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," Gauvreau said. "From our site, it is apparent that they were rather adept sea mammal hunters."
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