Archaeology

Kwäday Dän Ts'ìnchi Chronology

1999 - Initial Discovery

August 14, 1999 - A party of sheep hunters finds artifacts and human remains at the foot of a glacier in Tatshenshini-Alsek Park in the northwest region of British Columbia, near the Yukon border.

August 16, 1999 - The hunters - Bill Hanlon, Warren Ward and Mike Roche - report their find to staff at the Beringia Centre in Whitehorse and turned in several artifacts they had removed from the site.

Beringia Centre staff notify the Yukon government's heritage branch. Heritage branch staff notify the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations. The Champagne and Aishihik First Nations decide to visit the site to assess the reported remains.

August 17, 1999 - The Yukon government's heritage branch archaeology staff are briefed by the hunters. Following established protocol, the RCMP is contacted because human remains are involved.

Champagne and Aishihik First Nations representatives invite Yukon government heritage branch archaeologists and BC Parks officials to help with the preliminary assessment of the site. A limited inspection of the site takes place due to inclement weather.

Authorities with the British Columbia Ministry of Small Business, Tourism and Culture (archaeology branch) are notified immediately by a Yukon government archaeologist following the preliminary site assessment.

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1999 - Recovery Begins

August 17-20, 1999 - Following confirmation of the site, archaeology branch officials assemble a team of archaeologists, a forensic anthropologist, and a glaciologist to handle the recovery process. Champagne and Aishihik First Nations seek guidance from their elders on the find.

August 20, 1999 - Anthropologist Al Mackie of the archaeology branch and forensic anthropologist Dr. Owen Beattie arrive in Whitehorse. Champagne and Aishihik First Nations concur that removal of the remains is necessary to prevent further deterioration as the site is being exposed by the melting glacier.

August 22-23, 1999 - The human remains and artifacts are recovered from the glacier site by the team of specialists. The recovery is undertaken by the team including representatives of the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations and BC Parks. Before removal, words of respect are spoken by representatives of the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations.

The collected remains and artifacts are transferred to Whitehorse, where they can be appropriately stored and monitored by specialists.

Yukon government heritage branch archaeologists and conservator offer support throughout.

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1999 - Research Project is Agreed Upon

August 23, 1999 - The Champagne and Aishihik First Nations convene an emergency meeting of elders and members, who agree efforts should be made to learn something about this person. They named the find Kwäday Dän Ts'ìnchi, meaning 'long ago person found.'

August 24, 1999 - The Champagne and Aishihik First Nations hold a news conference in Haines Junction, Yukon, officially announcing the find and the co-operative approach to be undertaken between the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations and the British Columbia government.

August 25 - September 1, 1999 - The British Columbia Ministry of Small Business Tourism and Culture, the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations and other officials (BC Parks, Yukon heritage branch, scientists) work to reach agreement on the terms under which studies will proceed. The goal is to ensure cultural concerns are respected while recognizing the important scientific considerations inherent in a find of this nature.

August 31, 1999 - Agreement is reached between the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations and Small Business, Tourism and Culture's archaeology branch about the management of Kwäday Dän Ts'ìnchi.

September 2, 1999 - The human remains and some artifacts are transported from Whitehorse, Yukon, to the Royal British Columbia Museum in Victoria, where they are stored under carefully controlled and monitored conditions. Following Champagne and Aishihik cultural tradition, a member of the First Nation escorts the body during transfer.

September 3-12, 1999 - Planning takes place involving the British Columbia Ministry of Small Business, Tourism and Culture, and the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations.

September 13, 1999 - Letters from Small Business, Tourism and Culture Minister Ian Waddell and Champagne and Aishihik First Nations Chief Bob Charlie are sent to Bill Hanlon, Warren Ward and Mike Roche, acknowledging the contribution of the three hunters to the Kwäday Dän Ts'ìnchi project.

News conference and technical briefing is held at the Royal British Columbia Museum in Victoria to announce the formation of a joint management committee to oversee the research and to confirm that the human remains will be housed at the museum during the agreed-upon period of scientific study.

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2000 - Research Teams are Established

October-November, 1999 - Terms of reference for research proposals are established. First radio carbon dates are received on samples of the hat and robe.

Late November, 1999 - Terms of reference for research are released to scientific community seeking proposals.

January 2000 - Review of research proposals is completed and further discussion with successful proponents takes place.

January 14, 2000 - To assist with planning, the first examination of frozen human remains takes place by research proponent from out of country.

February-March, 2000 - Research agreements on human remains are drafted.

March 30, 2000 - First research agreement for study of human remains is made.

April 3, 2000 - Received carbon 14 dates on second batch of artifacts.

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2000 - Studies Begin

April 4, 2000 - First examination of human remains for detailed study takes place. Following receipt of more carbon 14 dates on wood artifacts, the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations develop study plan for artifacts remaining in Whitehorse.

June 30, 2000 - Second examination of human remains for detailed study takes place.

July, 2000 - Agreement with University of Victoria to conduct ethics reviews for out-of-country researchers is finalized.

August 10, 2000 - Representatives from the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations revisit the site and find the area covered in snow, which makes field work in the summer of 2000 impossible.

Mid-September, 2000 - Final ethics reviews at University of Victoria for out-of-country studies are completed. Research agreements with out-of-country researchers are finalized.

September 21, 2000 - Third examination of human remains for detailed study takes place.

November 9, 2000 - Fourth and final examination of human remains for detailed study takes place.

September 1999 - November 2000 - Ongoing communication with Champagne and Aishihik First Nations membership as well as contact with neighbouring First Nations.