Many readers of this ever-more occasional blog will be aware of the exciting and profound discovery in 1999 of the well-preserved remains of a young man frozen in a glacier in Northwestern British Columbia. Found within the traditional territory of the Champagne-Aishihik First Nation, the man was given the name Kwäday Dän Ts’ìnchi, or “Long Ago Person Found.” In the spirit of discovering what messages from the past that Kwäday Dän Ts’ìnchi might bearing, a remarkable collaborative research project was commenced. Results of this study have been presented at numerous conferences and in the scientific literature, but a landmark event hopefully just around the corner is the publication of a book recounting all the cultural and scientific knowledge borne into the present by this unfortunate young man.
While we wait for the book, it is very exciting to see that the Royal BC Museum has made a non-technical, well-illustrated overview document online which tells the main threads of the story of Kwäday Dän Ts’ìnchi. (edit, try this link instead, RBCM seems to have killed this document?)
The document can’t be downloaded, but it does open in a beautiful full-screen mode and at almost 60 pages, it’s a short book in its own right. The uploaded document appears to draw out significant highlights from all aspects of the research with which I am familiar, and in a sense can probably be seen as an outline of the book as a whole. I hear that the final book will be aimed at a lower undergraduate level, and that there may be dozens of separate chapters by around seventy different authors. [Update: the linked document now contains a Table of Contents for the forthcoming book, starting on Page 59.)
While comparisons to “Ötzi“, the frozen man found in the Tyrolean Alps, are inevitable, it is my firm belief that when readers are able to see the profound connections formed between Kwäday Dän Ts’ìnchi, descendent communities, and researchers, then they will see a sort of transcendent alteration of social relations in the present which Ötzi, for all his deserved notoriety, has never really achieved.
Kudos to the Royal BC Museum for making this document available, and to the authors, researchers, other institutions, and above all, the community members who have worked so hard for over a decade to allow the faint voice of Kwäday Dän Ts’ìnchi to be heard. In particular, the online document is written by Richard Hebda, Sheila Greer and Alexander Mackie.
It’s very exciting to think of the book being out sometime soon-ish, I’ll definitely make a post about it when the time comes!