About / Staff


Stephen Loring
Museum Anthropologist

Stephen LoringDr. Stephen Loring was born and grew-up in Concord, Massachusetts where he was deeply influenced by the writings (and antiquarian pursuits) of Henry David Thoreau and by the vestiges of a "natural" New England landscape that had not yet completely succumbed to suburban sprawl.  Literally weeks spent on the Concord and Merrimac (as well as the Sudbury and Assabeth) Rivers allowed him to pursue his decidedly 19th-century antiquarian proclivities to search for arrowheads and possibly extinct species of birds, and catch reptiles and amphibians of all sorts. These are activities best pursued from a canoe in latitudes ranging from 52 to 65 degrees north, although in his younger days he was known to habituate swamps in the deep south. Between about 1971 and 1976 he spent a disproportionate amount of time in northern Quebec and Labrador. There hunger drove him to become a hunter and there he befriended other hunters, some like himself and others from Innu and Inuit communities.

Stephen received an advanced degree from the University of Massachusetts principally because the nearby Quabbin Reservoir was a wild little ecosystem hidden in the hills and was a delight to wander. Subsequently, he has explored the shores of the nearly-forgotten Champlain Sea and has walked numerous ancient beach lines and eskers in Labrador, being passionate about all matters pertaining to the Pleistocene. He has conducted archaeological and paleo-environmental research in New England, Quebec, Labrador, Arkansas, Peru, Argentina and in the Aleutian Islands. He is fond of adverse conditions, preferring his weather to be windy and wet. He was fortunate to marry a wise woman who was also inordinately fond of canoes, rivers and sleeping out-of-doors. He took her to Hebron and she took him to Huarez. He has been down in caves and up on mountains, he has slept in fossil beds and eagle nests and prefers sunsets without any buildings in the way. There is almost nothing he wouldn't do for cloudberries and Ramah chert.

One consequence of over thirty years involvement with northern community members in general, and Innu and Inuit communities in Labrador specifically, has been the recognition of the horrific consequences attending the adoption of village life and the inequities of health and education programs in the North, a realization that has lead Stephen to develop a pioneering program of community archaeology.  Such ASC outreach initiatives seek to situate and share knowledge about the past in descendant communities. “Ownership” of the past, the appropriateness of asserting scientific precedents over human remains, intellectual property rights, land-claim negotiations and repatriation are all aspects of the contemporary practice of archaeology that impact research at the Smithsonian.

Click here to download Dr. Loring's publications.