The Heiltsuk Nation — an indigenous government in British Columbia — has long claimed extensive land rights based on their people’s history in the area, which they say stretches back to before the last ice age. That assertion has rested on traditional oral accounts passed down through thousands of generations — not exactly bulletproof evidence to bring to the negotiating table. Last year, though, an excavation was undertaken that would put those claims to the test.
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“Heiltsuk oral history talks of a strip of land in that area where the excavation took place,” William Housty, a member of the nation, said. “It was a place that never froze during the ice age and it was a place where our ancestors flocked to for survival.”
That version of events was sometimes thought to be the stuff of myths. After all, it would mean that the Heiltsuk settlement on North American soil predated the Roman empire, the Egyptian pyramids and the invention of the wheel.
But a recent archaeological find from the Hakai Institute confirms what they’ve been saying all along: they were around 14,000 years ago.