Peter Whiteley

American Museum of Natural History (AMNH)

Peter Whiteley is the Curator of North American Ethnology at the American Museum of Natural History. His research focuses on Native North American cultures both ethnographically and historically. His primary interest is the Hopi of northern Arizona, where he began fieldwork in 1980, resulting in four books and monographs: Deliberate Acts: Changing Hopi Culture through the Oraibi Split (University of Arizona Press, 1988), Bacavi: Journey to Reed Springs (Northland Press, 1988), Rethinking Hopi Ethnography (Smithsonian Institution Press, 1998), and The Orayvi Split: a Hopi Transformation (Anthropological Papers of the American Museum of Natural History, 2008). In 2005, he won the Robert F. Heizer Prize for ethnohistory for his paper ‘Bartering Pahos with the President.’ He is a Fellow of the Royal Anthropological Institute, and has served on the editorial board of the American Anthropologist (2001-2006). Recent Hopi work includes a collaborative project (funded by the National Science Foundation’s Endangered Languages program) on Hopi place-names and landscape concepts, with colleagues at the Hopi Office of Cultural Preservation and the University of Arizona. Dr. Whiteley has also worked with the Cayuga and Akwesasne Mohawk of upstate New York, and is preparing a history of the Cayuga in the aftermath of the Revolutionary War. His field and archival research also includes the Rio Grande Pueblos, the Hupa of northwestern California, Coast Salish of western Washington, and the Choctaw and Chickasaw of Oklahoma and Mississippi. Since 2009, Whiteley has led a comparative inquiry into Crow-Omaha kinship systems, both in Native North America and globally, with Museum colleague Ward Wheeler (curator of Invertebrate Zoology), funded by the National Science Foundation’s Anthropology Program. Drs. Whiteley and Wheeler have recently developed a study (using phylogenetic methods) of how languages evolve, concentrating first on the Uto-Aztecan languages of North and Middle America (with a 2015 paper published in Cladistics). Whiteley joined the American Museum of Natural History in 2001, having taught anthropology at Sarah Lawrence College from 1985-2000. He is an adjunct Senior Research Scholar at Columbia University and an Affiliated Professor at C.U.N.Y Graduate Center. At AMNH, he curates the North American ethnographic collections, including the Northwest Coast Hall, Plains Hall, and Woodlands Hall, and has worked on several exhibitions, notably Totems to Turquoise: Native North American Jewelry Arts of the Northwest and Southwest. Dr. Whiteley received his B.A. and M.A. in Archaeology and Anthropology from Cambridge University in 1975 and 1980, respectively, and Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of New Mexico in 1982.