Title "Of no ordinary importance"; reversing polarities in Smithsonian Arctic studies
Author Fitzhugh, W.W.
Author Affil Fitzhugh, W.W., National Museum of Natural History, Artic Studies Center, Washington, DC
Source p.61-77, ; Smithsonian at the poles, Washington, DC, May 3-4, 2007, edited by I. Krupnik, M.A. Lang and S.E. Miller. Publisher: Smithsonian Institution Scholarly Press, Washington, DC, United States. ISBN: 978-0-9788460-1-50-9788460-1- X
Publication Date 2009
Notes In English. 106 refs. CRREL Acc. No: 63004400
Index Terms history; Arctic region; archaeology; International Polar Year 2007-08; IPY 2007-08 Education, Outreach and Communication Publications; research; Smithsonian Institution
Abstract The founding of the Smithsonian in 1846 offered the promise of scientific discovery and popular education to a young country with a rapidly expanding western horizon. With its natural history and native cultures virtually unknown, Smithsonian Regents chartered a plan to investigate the most exciting questions posed by an unexplored continent at the dawn of the Darwinian era. Prominent issues included the origins and history of its aboriginal peoples, and this thirst for knowledge that led the young institution into America's subarctic and Arctic regions. The Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Alaska were among the first targets of Smithsonian cultural studies, and northern regions have continued to occupy a central place in the Institution's work for more than 150 years. Beginning with Robert Kennicott's explorations in 1858, Smithsonian scientists played a major role in advancing knowledge of North American Arctic and Subarctic peoples and interpreting their cultures. Several of these early enterprises, like the explorations, collecting, and research of Edward Nelson, Lucien Turner, John Murdoch, and Patrick Ray in Alaska and Lucien Turner in Ungava, either led to or were part of the first International Polar Year of 1882-1883. Early Smithsonian expeditions established a pattern of collaborative work with native communities that became a hallmark of the institution's northern programs. This paper presents highlights of 150 years of Smithsonian work on northern peoples with special attention to themes that contributed to Smithsonian Arctic studies during International Polar/Geophysical Year events, especially 1882-1883 and 2007- 2008.
URL http://hdl.handle.net/10088/6807
Publication Type monograph
Record ID 292173