Breaking News: Carbon dating establishes Lil’wat settlement to be 5500 years old

I read two incredible longform articles this year that both referenced the renewed appreciation scientists have for the oral stories for First Nations – the way those long-ago stories are checking out in the geological record, providing clues and adding evidence to theories about massive events that we don’t have computer records of. Check them out, for a truly worthy read: MB McaKinnon’s The Whale Dying on the Mountain, and Kathryn Schulz’s Pulitzer Prize winning piece, The Really Big One. I also wrote a story about the discovery of 13,000 year old footprints on a beach along the Coast, that, if the dating proves out, will re-think the Bering Land strait theory of the colonization of the Americas, in favour of a theory that this continent was discovered by sea-farers, possibly paddling along a kelp highway, chasing fish and whales, and travelling in small family bands, to settle and inhabit villages clustered up and down the coast: the original Cascadians.

But that’s really an aside, for the news this week, just shared by Lil’wat Nation (press release below), that archaeological testing has established the age of a Lil’wat settlement as 5500 years old. People have been living in this beautiful land for a long long time, and that makes me feel strangely rooted and safe here, and in awe of the resilience of my neighbours, the Nation for whom this place is territory, whose ancestors walked here, generation upon generation.

Carbon dating has revealed that an s7ístken (pit house) recently discovered on Lil’wat Traditional Territory dates back from 300 years to 1100 years ago. An older date suggests the site has been used as a seasonal camp about 5,500 years ago. The ruins of the traditional Lil’wat dwelling were found next to the Birkenhead River in Mt. Currie.

lot-49, day 4, 2015 041

“This is a very exciting cultural discovery,” said Lands and Resources Director Harriet VanWart. “There is now solid evidence of Lil’wat people calling this land home for thousands of years.”


To celebrate this important breakthrough, the Lands and Resources department is hosting a community presentation on Thursday, May 12 at 7 pm at the Banquet Hall of Úll’us a Community Complex. Lil’wat Cultural Technician Johnny Jones will be joined by Dr. Bill Angelbeck of Douglas College’s Department of Sociology and Anthropology to discuss the cultural and social relevance of the findings.

Everyone is invited to attend. Please bring your drums and your voices to join in celebrating this culturally significant finding.

via press release

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