About / Staff


William W. Fitzhugh

Dr. William Fitzhugh is an anthropologist specializing in circumpolar archaeology, ethnology and environmental studies. He first became interested in the North through canoeing in Ontario and his anthropological studies at Dartmouth CollegeWilliam Fitzhugh with Elmer Harp, Jr., who invited him to take part in archaeological projects in Newfoundland and Hudson Bay. After two years in the U.S. Navy he attended Harvard University where he received his PhD in anthropology in 1970, and thereafter took a position at the National Museum of Natural History. As director of the Arctic Studies Center and Curator in the Department of Anthropology, NMNH, he has spent more than thirty years studying and publishing on arctic peoples and cultures in northern Canada, Alaska, Siberia and Scandinavia. His archaeological and environmental research has focused upon the prehistory and paleoecology of northeastern North America, and broader aspects of his research feature the evolution of northern maritime adaptations, circumpolar culture contacts, cross-cultural studies and acculturation processes in the North, especially concerning Native-European contacts.

Recent research efforts have been directed at investigations into the problem of the western penetration of Maritime Archaic, Paleoeskimo and early Inuit cultures along the Lower North Shore of Quebec, and to associate this culture history more closely with Labrador and Newfoundland. Current interests in the origins of reindeer herding have led him to conduct research in Mongolia, where he is investigating reindeer herding in southern Siberia along the forest-steppe border, as well as investigating possible connections between deer-stones and Scythian art to the ancient art of East Asia and the Bering Sea Eskimos.

As curator of the National Museum of Natural History's arctic collections, Bill has produced four international exhibitions, Inua: Spirit World of the Bering Sea Eskimos; Crossroads of Continents: Native Cultures of Siberia and Alaska; Ainu: Spirit of a Northern People; and Vikings: The North Atlantic Saga. His public and educational activities include the production of films, including the NOVA specials, Mysteries of the Lost Red Paint People, Norse America and several other Viking films. He served as Chairman of the Smithsonian's Department of Anthropology from 1975-80, is an Advisor to the Arctic Research Commission, represents the Smithsonian and arctic social science in various inter-agency councils, serves on the Smithsonian Science Commission and holds various other administrative and advisory posts.

Click here to download Dr. Fitzhugh's CV.