Re: A unique identity worth celebrating, July 2 editorial.
Did the first peoples of Canada arrive on foot across the Bering Sea land bridge?
First Nations believe they have been here since time immemorial, and their creation stories reflect this attitude. The Haudensaunee (Iroquois) tell about how animals co-operated to make land for stranded Sky Woman on the back of a turtle, creating “iyiniwi-ministik” (the Peoples’ Island).
The Heiltsuk (Bella Bella) believe the Creator set down their ancestors on this territory before the time of the Great Flood.
While archaeological evidence exists to identify the presence of people 11,000 years ago in the Valley of Mexico, other information suggests humans were here long before the last ice age.
Migrations may have come from the sea.
This does not, however, preclude the notion that Indigenous peoples may have been here for over 100,000 years.
The Bering Land theory may derive its impetus from political considerations. If it can be convincingly argued that First Nations were fairly new immigrants to North America, they could be disqualified from being the original inhabitants and have no claim to first occupancy.
Given that the B.C. provincial government refers to natives as “family groups” – and not nations or even communities – it is understandable that First Nations have been more outspoken about their origins, and thus more willing to resort to the courts to adjudicate on aboriginal title.
Raven may have had to work hard to encourage man to come out of the cockle shell; let’s hope understanding about aboriginal origins does not meet the same reluctance.
Bob Burgel, Surrey