Norm has lived in Yukon and worked for the College since 1986. A Lecturer in Anthropology and Northern Studies at Ayamdigut Campus, Yukon College in Whitehorse, he divides his research efforts between the social history and cultural geography of Northern Athapaskan First Nations and prehistoric underwater archaeology. He directed the Yukon Underwater Diving Association's Underwater Heritage programme for 4 years and, with Ruth Gotthardt, he helped the Selkirk First Nation initiate community-based archaeological research in Yukon in the late 1980s. From 2002 to 2017 he was Principal Investigator of excavations at the Little John site, a multi-component archaeological site dating back to Beringian occupations circa 14,000 years ago. Outside of Yukon, he has undertaken two major underwater archaeology research projects in British Columbia and regularly collaborates with colleagues in Alaska at the Tanana Chiefs Conference and the Universities of Alaska at Fairbanks and Anchorage.
He was a Founding Editor of The Northern Review, the initiating Director of The Northern Research Institute at Yukon College, and an Editor and contributor to the British Museum Encyclopaedia of Underwater and Maritime Archaeology (1997). Besides numerous unpublished reports, monographs, and conference papers on his various field studies, he has published in The American Review of Canadian Studies, Geographie Physique et Quaternaire, Arctic - the Journal of the Arctic Institute of North America, Arctic Anthropology, The International Journal of Nautical Archaeology and Underwater Exploration, Diver Magazine, Northwest Anthropological Research Notes, The Native Studies Review , The Canadian Journal of Native Studies, The Northern Review, Current Research in the Pleistocene, the Alaska Journal of Anthropology, and Before Farming - The Archaeology and Anthropology of Hunter-Gatherers, and has recently completed chapter contributions on the early bifaces of the Little John site and Eastern Beringia for Projectile Point Sequences In Northwestern North America, edited by Roy Carlson and Martin Magne (SFU Press, 2008) and Little John's Late Pleistocene technologies for Explaining Lithic Assemblage Variability Across Beringia, edited by Ted Goebel and Ian Buvit (Center for First Americans, TAMU, 2011). A number of publications on the archaeology of the Little John site (on obsidian sourcing, characterization of basaltics, the radiometric chronology, Pleistocene fauna, and regional Yukon-Alaska borderlands sites) are currently in press or process.
His academic awards include the Charles Borden Scholarship for British Columbia Archaeology (1984-85), the Canadian Northern Studies Trust Scholarship in Northern Studies (1995-96), a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Fellowship (1995-97), a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Northern Research Grant (2008-09), and an International Canada - U. S. Fulbright Scholarship (1996-97). He has subsequently hosted and mentored five Fulbright Scholars undertaking research in the Yukon. In addition, he has received research funding and support from numerous sources, including the White River First Nation, Northway Village Council, Tanana Chief’s Conference, Northern Research Institute’s Research Fellowship Award, Yukon College’s Faculty Research Fund, Government of Canada Cultural Resources and Summer Student Employment grants, Yukon Government Heritage Resources Board, and numerous local businesses.
Norm has worked yearly with the Athapaskan Dineh of the Yukon - Alaska borderlands since 1991, which has included extended periods of fieldwork in every season of the year. This has included training about 350 students either through Yukon College's Anthropology 225 - Field Methods in Subarctic Archaeology and Ethnography, or as a directed study credit. One third of his students have been of First Nation descent. Ten of his former students have gone on to complete their graduate degrees and now work professionally as anthropologists; six undertook advanced graduate work with him in the borderlands. Many others have successfully obtained field archaeology positions with various Cultural Resource Management firms in Yukon, Alaska, British Columbia, Alberta, and further afield.
Norm has also undertaken and published on extensive ethnographic research in Yukon and Alaska in social history, Dineh culture and language, cultural geography, and contemporary social issues from a political economic perspective. Besides numerous journal articles, he has completed a major ethnohistory of the borderlands for the US National Park Service (2005), was a co-investigator and author of a three-year study of the Upper Tanana subsistence fishery for Alaska Fish and Game (2004-2006), and first co-author of a major study of the White River First Nation historic and contemporary land use. In anticipation of his retirement in 2021, his current research activities are focused on completing analysis of the Little John collection in preparation for archiving, and the preparation of a multi-volume summary monograph, "My Great People's Land": A Social History and Cultural Geography of the Southwest Yukon-Alaska Borderlands.
Besides teaching and hanging out in the bush with his Dineh teachers and friends, Norm likes to write poetry and "entertainments". He has completed three stage plays and a movie script based on historical moments in the North. "Timber Rabbits - A Mystery of Men, Madness, Murder, and Mutilation," co-written with Joseph Graham, premiered in Whitehorse in the fall of 2008. He was a founding member of the Beat Archaeology movement and authored its manifesto Trowel, which received it's first public performance at the 1991 Belzoni Awards in Fairbanks, Alaska. In recognition of his consistent insistence on reading poetry at subsequent Belzoni events he was named Poet Laureate of the Belzoni Society for the new millennium in the year 2000. He assumed command of ArCom Marine in a putsch in 1992 and has since established ArComNorth.