Les Davis Documentary

Sadly, my friend and colleague Les Davis died just as we were beginning to develop our proposed documentary film Discovering First Montanans: Portals to the Past.  I have committed to finishing the film with a slightly different approach.  The new working title is Les Davis and the Search for First Montanans.  This is a significant task for a structural geologist with limited exposure to archaeology.  This past April I attended the Montana Archaeological Society Annual Merting and presented my proposal.  We were awarded a $5000 matching fund by MAS for finishing the film.  Watch the trailer here:



 If you would like to make a contribution to finishing this important film, please send your contributions to:

Montana Archaeological Society
Les Davis Film
P.O. Box 1123
Manhattan, MT 59741


You can view the full proposal here.


Here is an excerpt from the proposal:

Montana is a notoriously big place, the big sky country. It contains the entire upper Missouri and Yellowstone River basins and spans an area of over 147,000 square miles. When you add the dimension of time, it gets even bigger.

One man spent much of his Montana life exploring the fourth dimension in his search for the first Montanans. Les Davis was a giant of Montana archaeology and anthropology. He was involved in many excavations and research projects across the state for the last 50 years.

The proposed film centers around Les and his work across Montana, but it also explores the question: Who were the people who occupied the rapidly changing post-glacial tundra, grasslands and forests of Montana? What were their lives like, and how do modern researchers discover the secrets of the early inhabitants of Montana?

The film will utilize archival footage from excavations around the state including Blacktail Cave, Barton Gulch, Sheeprock Springs, MacHaffie, Dry Creek Headwaters, Portal Creek, Mill Iron, Indian Creek, Anzick, the Lindsey Mammoth site, and others.

In collaboration with Dr. Sally Thompson, anthropologist and former University of Montana researcher, and long-time associate of Les Davis, we will conduct interviews with archaeologists, anthropologists, geologists, Native Americans and landowners who collaborated with Les, and the field technicians who meticulously excavated and cataloged artifacts and other clues to the early occupation of Montana and the Greater Yellow- stone area.

We are seeking interest and funding sources to create a one-hour documentary film to be released in the Fall of 2018.

Written by : Daniel J. Smith