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The Canadian Iceman

Updated on September 6, 2020
Yukon Discovery of Canadian Ice Man, Red Dot is Area of Discovery
Yukon Discovery of Canadian Ice Man, Red Dot is Area of Discovery
First Nations
First Nations
Archaeologists at Site
Archaeologists at Site

Accidental Discovery of Canadian Ice Man

As the glaciers are retreating more and more each year, they are exposing treasures for archaeology and science. And the Yukon was about to release a significant find, one that would bring many scientific discoveries.

One day on July 22, 1999, three teachers hunting for sheep came across some pieces of wood scattered along the ice. Bill Manlon thought it unusual to find wood among the ice, and then the other two hunters, Warren Wood and Mike Roch, began finding even more artifacts. They took several of these to the Beringia Centre to prove their find. Immediately they sent out a team of archaeologists to the site.

What they found was going to be a significant archaeological discovery. They discovered a headless body, a walking stick, a coat, a knife, a hat, and a small bag. This discovery would prove the use of the lands by the First Nations, the Champagne-Aishihik, (CAFN). The CAFN would honor the man and named him "long-ago person found. His name would become known as Kwaday Dan Sinchi or The Canadian Man. And he would be the oldest well-preserved human remains found in North America.

On August 25, 1999, the San Francisco Chronicle printed an article, "a body found by Canadian sheep hunters hiking through Tatshenshini-Aisek Wilderness Park in British Columbia found a treasure." The Wilderness Park is located about 1000 miles north of Vancouver and has over one million acres of wild rivers, grizzly bears, and hiking and biking trails. An early map of the area was drawn years ago by Chief Kohklux and believed to be the oldest map of southwest Yukon. The map shows the Ice Man's village as Klukwan.

This discovery has shown the public the importance of discoveries and makes us wonder how many more lay waiting for us.

Chief Kohklux Map
Chief Kohklux Map

Radiocarbon Dating and DNA

Scientists were given permission by the First Nations to conduct testing to establish and cement their culture and history. The radiocarbon testing set the time of death to be fifty years before Columbus' discovery and about 300 years before the first known European contact in the Northwest Coast. Mycobacterium tuberculosis was found in his heart and lungs. His intestines revealed he had fish tapeworms, probably from eating raw or under-cooked fish. The contents also reveal his mostly marine diet and that he ate three days before his death.

The DNA revealed of the Ice Man and remains and living members of the First Nations of 17 members of the tribe to be related to the Wolf/Eagle clans of the Champagne-Aishihik First Nations. It is thought the young man's purpose and destination can be found in the traditional tales of the Chilkat, Yakutat Tlingit, and the southern Tutchone. More discoveries were completed in 2003 and 2004, and his skull was finally found. In 2001, the remains were cremated, placed in a chest, and then into a cairn near the spot where he was found.

Artifacts Discovered

A hat, well-preserved and woven from wooden fibers of the Sitka Spruce with a headband inside repaired using sinew and the remains of red ochre indicating it had been colored. A knife was 14 cm long with a wooden handle and a short iron blade with a sheathing. A coat, a blanket shape made of100 small pelts of the arctic squirrel with sinew from a moose, but repairs were done with sinew from a Blue Whale and a humpback whale.

Ice Man's Knife
Ice Man's Knife
Ice  Man's Hat
Ice Man's Hat
ice Man's Coat
ice Man's Coat

Sources Used


Explore North


Secrets of the Ice


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