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Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
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Department of Anthropology

Arctic Studies Center

The Arctic has long been known as an area with frequent and dramatic fluctuations of major wildlife species, including those of vital importance to its residents, such as caribou, seals, walrus, whales, salmon, and sea birds. Many of the same species had been exploited commercially by generations of Euro-American whalers, seal hunters, and fishermen. The plight of many northern species was instrumental in setting the early environmentalist and game management agenda for this nation.

ARCTIC CRASHES is a collaborative study of polar animal fluctuations—whether human, climate, or habitat-induced. The goal is to explore the history of animal fluctuations and the shifting scientific, cultural, spiritual, and public interpretations of Arctic people-animal interactions.

Since the late 1800s, Arctic wildlife changes, both cyclic and abrupt (as in ‘crashes’ or extinctions), have been an arena of competition, if not conflict, among four major players: polar indigenous people, biologists and game preservation agencies, commercial hunters and fishermen, and the environmentalist movement. We approach these topics by using new ideas and data from integrative research, primarily in Alaska and Eastern Canada.

In this project, anthropologists team with biologists, environmental historians, and indigenous knowledge experts to convey to the public that many voices must come together in collaborative rather than confrontational mode.




Content Prepared by Joshua Fiacco

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