The Japan Times
August 26, 1999

Centuries-old iceman found in Canada

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (Reuters) The discovery of a well-preserved iceman frozen in a glacier has archaeologists and Indians excited over what secrets he may reveal about the past.

Officials said tools and clothing discovered with the preserved body indicate the man died in a fall before Europeans arrived in the region. But they stressed it was too early to give an accurate estimate on the age of the remains.

"This person will have much to tell us, to help us understand our past, and the history of our homeland," leaders of the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations said in announcing the discovery.

Extensive trading contact between Europeans and Indians in this region of Canada only began in the late 1700s, but people have lived in the region for at least 10,000 years, archaeologists believe.

The remains were found in early August by hunters crossing a glacier in Tatchenshini-Alsek Park, which is located in extreme northwestern British Columbia, not far from the Yukon and Alaska borders.

Preliminary evidence indicated the remains were those of a man who died from a fall into a glacier crevasse. Because of the ice, the victim's soft tissue, such as skin and muscles were still preserved.

Although intact ancient bodies have been found in the Alps, Andes, Siberia and Arctic Canada, this discovery is the first of its kind in the western Canadian mountains, officials said.

A research team, including tribal members, moved the remains Monday to Whitehorse, Yukon.

"We have the remains securely stored and we will now have to, within this next week, really make plans on what we're going to do next," said Diane Strand, Heritage Resource Officer with Champagne and Aishihik.

Officials said the study of the remains will be conducted differently from that on a body of an ancient shepherd found in 1991 in a glacier on the Italy-Austria border, because the study work must take into account Indian cultural concerns.


TATCHENSHINI PARK, British Columbia-Scientists announced Tuesday that a tool, some sticks and a hat have been discovered along with human remains in a mountain glacier in northwestern British Columbia. The well-preserved remains are believed to be that of an ancient aboriginal hunter. REUTERS PHOTO