Skip to content

Coastal Migrations to North America — Blogosphere Abuzz

The title of the post may be somewhat overstated, but recent posts at and Keats’ Telescope describe the peopling of North America via the British Columbia coast. The buzz comes from papers presented recently at the AAAS meetings.

I’m not sure this theory is all that new … it has certainly been around since the 1980s (but I stand to be corrected). Still, the posts are good reminders of the current nature of a topic that inevitably come up in classes on British Columbia archaeology or cultures.


In the comments, archaeologist Bob Muckle adds some of the history of the coastal migration hypothesis. He also elaborates on the recent interest in it. It has to do with people following the kelp (and related resources) down the west coast of North America. There is more information in this story from the Underwater Times.

Sphere: Related Content


  1. Jamie wrote:

    I am pretty sure that one of my profs here at SFU, Knut Fladmark, had been talking about, and publishing on, coastal migration since at least the 70s, if not the 60s. In my experience as an anth arch student at this school, it seems that most, if not all, Canadian arch profs at SFU subscribe to the coastal migration view so I don’t see what all the fuss is about. I may be completely wrong throuh…

    Wednesday, February 22, 2006 at 2:56 am | Permalink
  2. Thanks Jamie … that was the tidbit I was groping for in my poorly-researched post. I remembered an SFU connection, but couldn’t place the details.

    Wednesday, February 22, 2006 at 9:31 am | Permalink
  3. bob muckle wrote:

    The coastal migration hypothesis has indeed been kicking around for quite some time. Knut Fladmark generally gets credit for developing the model with a his seminal 1979 article in ‘American Antiquity’ but the idea had been advanced in archaeological circles decades before this.

    Environmental research over the past few decades has tended to support the idea of a coastal migration (showing that reas previously thought to be glaciated were not).

    From what I can gather, the new buzz revolves around the ideas that the migrants may have been following the coast because of the kelp. That’s a new twist.

    Wednesday, February 22, 2006 at 4:59 pm | Permalink
  4. Jack Miller wrote:

    I was a QCI on-island friend of Knut when he was developing his coastal migration ideas.

    He showed me a map of the sea-floor of Hecate Strait which he had developed from then new data which had been recently gathered from gov’t (possibly military?) which he said was highly confidential.

    The map clearly showed major and minor streambeds which had been cut, some of which joined up with valleys on the Charlottes, and which offered proof that sea levels had been low enough to afford land travel – at least through the Straits.

    I’ve been told that there is now no record of that map. That might be explained by the problems which arose as a result of his injury around those times.

    Monday, December 24, 2007 at 1:41 am | Permalink