The Bluefish Caves

The Bluefish Caves were discovered in 1976 by a fishing expedition along the Bluefish River.  The site was later excavated in 1978-79 led by Jacques Cinq-Mars.  There was controversy and skepticism around the find because of the conflict with the Clovis-first theory.  This theory, named after the find in Clovis, New Mexico, maintains that humans traveled across a land bridge from Asia about 12,000 years ago.  Findings at a site in Chile dated human existence there back to 12,500 years ago.  With the Chile site findings being decreed valid by prominent archeologists, it gave renewed interest and possible validity in the Bluefish Cave sites.

The Bluefish Caves are located in the Northern Yukon, 50 kilometers southwest of Old Crow.  There are three caves that make up this site.  Bluefish Cave I was found to have a large number of bones from horses, bison, antelope, caribou and lions.  It had appeared to archeologists that predators had dragged many of these there.  Some of the bones had cut marks and/or butchering marks indicating human presents in the area.  Over the years tools were discovered to support the presents of humans in the area dating back to 11,000 to 18,000 years ago.  A large mammoth bone was discovered in 1985 with flakes removed from it for tools.  It was said that with the stone in the area primarily being limestone that bone tools were probably more common.  The mammoth bone was dated at 24,500 years old, making the Bluefish Cave sites the oldest find of humans in North America.

With the Chile site and the Bluefish Cave site it is now speculated that the first migration of humans to North America did not pass through an “ice-free corridor” at the end of the last ice age.  One of the theories claims that humans came across the Bering Strait possibly in boats and traveled south along the coast.


Ralston, Greg.  “Dig this one.”  Yukon News February 26, 1997

Hayes, Kelly.  “Re-creating a piece of history.”  Yukon News February 21, 1997

Asimov, Janet.  “America’s Ice Age immigrants took West Coast route.”  The Japan Times October, 27 1997

Written by: Ron Griebel