ROM Governors

Introducing Dr. Craig Cipolla

We caught up with Craig Cipolla, Associate Curator, North American Archaeology, on his return from a research trip dedicated to collaborative archaeological fieldwork with the Mohegan Tribe on their reservation lands in Connecticut. Cross appointed as a University of Toronto professor, Craig has been widely published and has received major grants from the National Science Foundation and the European Commission. 

How did you get into archaeology? During my undergrad, I did fieldwork at a seventeenth century plantation site on Shelter Island, New York. This project examined the historical “entanglements” of European colonists, enslaved Africans, and Native American labourers. From there, I was hooked.

Tell us about why your research is important. I strive to create new means of working with—and learning from—Indigenous communities. My goal is to make the archaeological process more visible and relevant to Indigenous communities,
while maintaining academic rigour.

What are you currently working on? I just co-authored a book Archaeological Theory in the New Millennium and completed an edited volume, Foreign Objects. I’m also leading repatriation projects with First Nations and curating an exhibition for 2017 called Vikings: The Exhibition.

What inspires you? Building relationships with Indigenous communities and exchanging ideas as we conduct research together.

What’s next for you? I hope to conduct research in Ontario, starting with collections-based inquiry and then archaeological fieldwork.

What do you hope people learn from the ROM? I’d like visitors to gain a more nuanced understanding of Indigenous history in this region and the issues faced by First Peoples today.

Do you have a favourite object at the ROM? It would have to be a seventeenth-century rosary recovered from a Huron-Wendat village in Simcoe County, Ontario, which speaks to the cultural interactions from the colonization of present-day Canada.

To learn how you can support Craig's research projects, please contact Ulrica Jobe at or 416.586.5818. You can also follow Dr. Cipolla on Twitter @CraigNCipolla
Lab photo, Catherine Tamarro. Field work photos, James Quinn.