Cave named historic site

A centuries-old cave at Charlie Lake in Northern B.C. has been designated a national historic site by Parks Canada.

The cave, known formally as Tse’K’wa, was one of seven designations announced on Friday to mark the 100th anniversary of the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada.

"Tse'K'wa is an exceptional archaeological site in North America," Parks Canada said. "It has provided an understanding of human settlement and environmental change from the last glacial period (12,500 years ago) to 1,000 years ago. This site is in the traditional territory of the Dane-zaa First Nations, who maintain stewardship of the site and consider it a spiritual place."

Tse'K'wa means “rock house,” and though well-known to local residents and First Nations, the cave was only discovered by archaeologists in 1974, and then excavated in the early 1980s.

Among the hundreds of artifacts found were a 10,500-year-old stone bead — the oldest example of human adornment in North America — spear and arrow points, harpoon heads, as well as bones from humans and various animals including bison and raven.

The artifacts tell stories of travel patterns and ceremonial practices, and make the cave one of the most significant sites on the continent.

Local First Nations, including Doig River, Prophet River, and West Moberly bought the land with the cave in 2012. They plan to turn the site into a cultural museum.

Along with preserving the cave site and protecting it from ongoing vandalism, the museum would be part of a broader effort underway to bring more visibility to local indigenous history through culture and public art.

The museum is planned to be developed in phases over five to 10 years, a timeline that will depend on funding.

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