There are many theories about how First Nations came to be
pre-historic Alberta. As Arthur Ray states in I Have Lived
Here Since The World Began: "Archaeological evidence in fact
suggests that the first inhabitants emigrated from Eurasia by
crossing the Bering Land Bridge connecting Siberia and Alaska
sometime between forty thousand and twelve thousand years ago."
The Bering Strait is a piece of land that connected Asia and
North America. This land mass is called Beringia. The Bering
Strait theory has attracted a lot of archaeological evidence.
That evidence reveals that there were humans in Alberta
11,000 years ago, around the time that the ice-free corridor
opened along the eastern foothills of Rocky Mountains. For
example, the Clovis point that was discovered near Thorsby is an
arrowhead spear-like artifact and is dated at 11,000 years.
Additionally, the Folsom point – another arrowhead spear-like
artifact – is dated at 10,500 years. The earliest sites in
Alberta are Vermilion Lakes, James Pass, and Sibbald Creek. The
oldest shelter in Canada is at Vermilion Lakes, and it is dated
at 10,500 years. The Bering Strait theory is only one theory.
Examples of other theories are found in First Nations’ oral
tradition. These traditions are recounted in an origin myth. Do
not be fooled with the use of the word myth. As Peggy Brizinski
says in Knots in a String: An Introduction to Native Studies
in Canada: "Myth can also be used to refer to the sacred
truth of a people. A myth is what a group of people believe to
be true about the world and their place in it." According to a
popular Plains origin myth, Creator created the world with all
its beings and then gave the responsibility for caring for all
the beings to Weesakayjac. Weesakayjac was to show the beings
how to live, but he did not. Eventually, everybody was fighting,
because Weesakayjac did not show the beings how to live the
right way. The Creator threatened to bring in a flood and
finally, after many threats, flooded the entire world.
Weesakayjac and three animals survived: Otter, Beaver, and
Muskrat. The Creator told Weesakayjac that the world could be
created over again. Only the materials that were under the sea
could be used to re-create the world. Weesakayjac asked Otter to
dive down to the bottom of the sea and Otter was unsuccessful.
Next, Weesakayjac asked Beaver to dive down to the bottom of the
sea and Beaver was unsuccessful. Finally, Weesakayjac asked
Muskrat. Muskrat swam very hard to get to the bottom of the sea
and brought back to Weesakayjac a piece of earth in her paw.
Muskrat was an unlikely hero, because she was the smallest of
all three creatures. Weesakayjac took the piece of earth that
contained pieces of wood and bones and re-created the world
complete with humans and animals. As a reward, Weesakayjac
created lots of roots and rushes for the muskrat.
The origin myth of Weesakayjac and the flood is only one
creation story. Different nations and, more specifically,
different tribes and bands have greatly varying creation
Brizinski, Peggy. Knots in a String: An
Introduction to Native Studies in Canada. Saskatoon:
University of Saskatchewan Extension Press, 1993.
Ray, Arthur J. I Have Lived Here Since the World Began.
Toronto: Lester Publishing and Key Porter Books, 1996.