Objects and Elders: Recovering Knowledge from 19th Century Yup’ik Eskimo Collections
In the 1870s, Smithsonian scientist Edward Nelson collected nearly 10,000 Yup’ik Eskimo artifacts from Alaska. Recently, as a result of Smithsonian exhibitions of the collections, the Yup’ik people have been creating their own exhibitions on their nearly vanished traditional life. Bill Fitzhugh, director of the Smithsonian’s Arctic Studies Center, discusses these events as a recovery of knowledge, which is helping to ensure that a culture and a language remain relevant and viable. He also demonstrates ways to look at Yup’ik artifacts to learn how their culture solved real-world problems in some unexpected ways.
This session was illustrated in real time. Click the thumbnail image to the left for an illustrated summary of this session.
Bill Fitzhugh is the Curator of Archaeology and Director of the Arctic Studies Center at the National Museum of Natural History. In these positions, he has spent more than thirty years studying and publishing on arctic peoples and cultures in northern Canada, Alaska, Siberia, and Scandinavia, and conducting fieldwork and research on circumpolar archaeology, northern cultures, and environments with special attention to human-environmental interactions. His public and educational activities include the production of films, including NOVA specials, as well as the creation of ten exhibitions.