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Davis, Leslie B (December 7, 1936 - October 7, 2014) | McCracken Research Library

Name: Davis, Leslie B (December 7, 1936 - October 7, 2014)

Historical Note:

Leslie (Les) B Davis was born to Wilma and Beryl Davis on Dec 7, 1935 in Cutbank, Montana. His dad, Beryl, moved the family to Kevin so he could work in the oil refineries there. Later the family moved back to Cutbank where Les attended elementary and high school. He sang in the school choir and was editor of the yearbook. In the summers, he worked on his grandfather's farm in Shelby where he grew to love the land. He was the first of his family to attend college.

Though his initial interest was in chemical engineering, he soon found the work oppressive. An English teacher sparked his interest in anthropology which led to an M.A. in Cultural Anthropology at the University of Montana in 1965, and a Ph.D. in North American Archaeology at the University of Calgary in Alberta, Canada in 1972. He went on to become a Professor of Anthropology at Montana State University, and Curator of Anthropology and Ethnology at the Museum of the Rockies. He taught for 37 years and along the way inspired many students and associates.

He was prolific in field work and publishing, receiving many awards over the years. Les probably knew more about the Paleoindians of Montana as an academic than anyone. But he also had a mission to convey his knowledge to the general public through popular articles, films and presentations. "I am a professional humanist," he once said, "I see the humanities and arts going together. They're what makes us human. They're not secondary to life. Without the humanities and art, you might as well be an automaton." In 2011, the Montana Archaeological Society honored Les with a Lifetime Achievement Award. In April of 2012, he was honored by Humanities Montana as a Humanities Hero. "Humanities is how we appreciate, how we understand one another—how we accept one another, how we enjoy one another," he mused, "It's absolutely fundamental for human beings co-existing on this crazy planet."

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