Families gathered at the Charlie Lake property to not only celebrate Aboriginal heritage and culture, but also the reclaiming of what Treaty 8 Chief Liz Logan says is proof that the Dane-Zaa people were here first. "We talked to some of the elders and they deem this as an actual sacred site because there were human remains found here that a lot of people don't really know about," she told the crowd.
The caves date back over 10,000 years, and are believed to be evidence of travel in the area by early people. "When the ice fields melted here, they think that our people originated and came up from the lower Alberta area," she explained. DNA testing of a bison bone also point to that area being where current day bison evolved from.
The land was purchased by the Doig River First Nation, Prophet River First Nation and West Moberly First Nations, with the intention of protecting it from vandalism is has sustained, and to share it with the public. Chiefs of all three First Nations were on hand to commemorate the land purchase and celebrate with the community. Doig River First Nation Chief Norm Davis called it "a moment that will be passed on for generations to come", and Prophet River First Nation Chief Lynette Tsakoza hailed the historical significance of the land.
"I believe in the greater power of the land," she said. "The cave site can bring us back into our hands and keep us and maintain for the people today and our younger generations."
The celebration also marked the anniversary of the signing of Treaty 8 on June 21, 1899.