Kwäday Dän Ts'ìnchi - Description


The remains had been dismembered after death, probably by shifting ice due to thermal cracking and slumping along the edge of the glacier. The first part found was the torso, with left arm and mummified hand still attached. The lower body was found a few meters away, with the thighs and muscle still attached. The head was missing, as was the right arm and lower right leg, though his hair, attached to some remnants of the scalp, and some small bones from the right hand and foot were recovered. Soft tissue was present primarily in the torso and thighs; the torso was of particular interest, as this allowed analysis of the gastric contents, which provide many clues to the days leading up to Kwäday Dän Ts'ìnchi's death.

Kwäday Dän Ts’ìnchi represents the oldest well preserved human remains in North America. Kwäday Dän Ts'ìnchi was estimated to be approximately 18–19 years old at his time of death. The cause of death is unknown, but there appears to be no sign of serious injury, and hypothermia is a possibility, as the time of death places it near the onset of the Little Ice Age. An examination of the food in Kwäday Dän Ts’ìnchi's digestive tract reveal that he had traveled a distance of around 100 km (62 mi) in the three days prior to his death, from the coastal region up into higher elevations where he was found. Based on pollen found in the contents of his colon, he was traveling in the summer.

Kwäday Dän Ts’ìnchi was found with a number of artifacts, including a robe made from about 95 gopher or squirrel skins sewn together with sinew, a woven hat, a walking stick, a knife, a hand tool of unknown purpose, and an atlatl and dart. After samples were taken for study, the remainder of Kwäday Dän Ts’ìnchi's remains were cremated and scattered over the area where he was discovered, and local clans are considering a memorial potlatch to honor Kwäday Dän Ts’ìnchi.

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