Knut R. Fladmark

Date award received: 

The following are excerpts from nomiation letters submitted for Dr. Fladmark.

Dr. Fladmark has contributed to a huge range of archaeological topics, supervised countless archaeological students, and has been a mentor to us and other professionals in our field.

A hallmark of Dr. Fladmark scholarship is that it was always on the cutting edge. Whether it was household archaeology, micro‐debitage, or migration routes, his research was consistently years ahead of others in the field. In the case of the “coastal migration route”, it is only very recently that the paradigm has finally shifted within archaeology and Dr. Fladmark’s model has become widely accepted. What is more remarkable about this is that he originally proposed the model based on scant geomorphological and archaeological data, especially when compared to the current body of research on early Holocene geomorphology and archaeology. The 100 citations of Dr. Fladmark’s American Antiquity article in the Web of Science, reflects the central place that his model continues to play in this important archaeological discussion. It is seldom that works such as these have a life span of almost 40 years!

A further testament to Dr. Fladmark’s scholarship is that the fact in the 1980’s he conducted research designed to find evidence in support of the then main alternative model to the coast route: the mid‐continental route. To do this, he and Jon Driver excavated the Charlie Lake Cave site in the very heart of the purported corridor. This research resulted in several publications that demonstrated that that the earliest occupation of the corridor was at least a thousand years later than the initial peopling of North America. He argued that the evidence pointed most strongly to a movement of people into the Fort St. John region from the south following the melting ice sheets. This hypothesis proved prescient, as later research on the DNA of fossil bison from the site showed the presence of two populations, one migrating from the north and the other from the south. This suggests that the area had only become favourable for large mammal populations after the ice began to retreat.

Dr. Fladmark’s contributions go well beyond paleo‐Indian studies; they also include the consideration of lithics through the extensively detailed survey and paleoenvironments of the Mount Edziza obsidian source in the upper Stikine River and the utility of microdebitage studies and analysis. Later time periods were also of interest to Dr. Fladmark where he studied aspects of Athapaskan peoples in north central British Columbia and their role in the Fur Trade at several trading posts across British Columbia.

Dr. Fladmark is widely acknowledged as one of the most innovative and dedicated teachers in the Department of Archaeology at SFU. Even though he was part time in our department since the mid 1980’s, he consistently delivered a range of information‐packed classes, supervised many students, and provided inspiration and advice to fellow faculty. Over his career at SFU, Dr. Fladmark served as senior supervisor on 13 Master’s thesis and 3 PhD dissertations. All of Dr. Fladmark’s classes share similar elements ‐ the consideration of alternative hypothesis, incorporation of original and novel research, a good understanding of paleoenvironments, working closely with Aboriginal peoples, telling stories about the field, and of course enjoying the occasional beer!

Dr. Fladmark has had an impact on generations of field archaeologists in British Columbia and beyond. Through teaching several field schools, he introduced students to rigorous field methods. Across Canada and North America, field schools still use Dr. Fladmark’s “A Guide to Archaeology Field Procedures”. Much of this text, augmented by Dr. Fladmark’s own drawings, is as relevant today as when he wrote the book 35 years ago. It is no surprise that Dr. Fladmark’s students; undergraduate and graduate populate the discipline from Cultural Resource Managers, researchers working for First Nations, to university faculty.

Finally, Dr. Fladmark has done much to educate and engage the general public about archaeology in British Columbia. His book “British Columbia Prehistory”, intended for a general audience, synthesizes a huge amount of information about the region’s past, yet is a delight to read. The impact of Dr. Fladmark’s scholarship on the general public is dramatically illustrated by the fact that a Google search on “Fladmark archaeology” gets some 75,000 hits!

How appropriate it would be to honor Dr. Fladmark with the Smith‐Wintemberg Award. His research, teaching, and service to the archaeological community of Canada are unparalleled. Without doubt, he is someone who has made an outstanding contribution to the advancement of the discipline of archaeology and to our knowledge of the archaeological past of Canada. It is hard to imagine a more fitting recipient of this honor.

Nominated by

R. Reimer, D. Lepofsky, A. Cannon, R. L. Carlson, A. McMillan