It’s a story that has been passed down from generation to generation among the Heiltsuk Nation. Indeed, it forms part of the oral history of the Canadian people. Yet the narrative it portrays has challenged widespread conceptions about human migration in North America. And now, incredibly, archaeologists have found stunning evidence to prove it.
Some 14,000 years ago, the North American continent was in the grip of an ice age. As a result, glaciers covered most of the land. Scientists have long believed that it was during this period that the first humans crossed into North America, traveling on foot across a land bridge between what is now Alaska and eastern Russia before moving further south via inland routes. However, a new discovery in northwestern Canada has challenged that belief.
The story the Heiltsuk people told concerned a strip of land along the west coast of Canada. In contrast to accepted scientific wisdom, their traditions claim that this piece of land didn’t freeze during the ice age. Consequently, they say, it was here that their ancestors took shelter from the freezing conditions. And as a result of these Heiltsuk beliefs, archaeologists recently turned their attention to an island called Triquet in British Columbia.