Regna Darnell, Ph. D.

University of Western Ontario

Professor, Department of Anthropology

Director, First Nations Studies Program

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Regna Darnell received a B.A. in Anthropology and English (cum laude) from Bryn Mawr College in 1965, and an M.A. (1967) and Ph.D. (1969) in Anthropology from the University of Pennsylvania. She taught at the University of Alberta from 1969-1990, attaining the rank of Professor in 1979. Professor Darnell came to Western in 1990, serving as Chair of Anthropology (1990-93) and as Director of the Centre for Research and Teaching of Canadian Native Languages since 1992.  She became a Distinguished University Professor in 2005.  She is the founding Director of Western's First Nations Studies Program. She serves on the core faculty of the Centre for the Study of Theory and Criticism and holds an adjunct appointment in Anthropology at McMaster University.   In 2000, she served as Bicentennial Visiting Professor of Canadian Studies and Anthropology and Guest Fellow at Pierson College, Yale University.  Professor Darnell is a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, a member of the American Philosophical Society,  past-president of the Society for Humanistic Anthropology past-president of the North American Association for the History of the Language Sciences, and chaired the American Anthropological Association's Centennial Executive and Advisory Commissions (planning for publications and celebrations in 2002). She has published widely in First Nations languages and cultures as well as history of anthropology. Recent books include: Edward Sapir: Linguist, Anthropologist, Humanist (1990); Collected Works of Edward Sapir 3: Culture (1999) and 4: Ethnology (1994); And Along Came Boas: Continuity and Revolution in Americanist Anthropology (1998); Theorizing the Americanist Tradition (ed. with Lisa Valentine, 1999); and Invisible Genealogies: A History of Americanist Anthropology (2001); Presidential Portraits: Celebrating a Century of the American Anthropological Association (ed. with Frederic W. Gleach, 2002); American Anthropology 1971-95: Selected Papers from the American Anthropologist (2002); Special Centennial Issue of the American Anthropologist (ed. with Frederic W. Gleach, 2002).

AAA Franz Boas Award 2005


Regna Darnell, professor of anthropology and co-director of the First Nations Studies Program at the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario, Canada, was named winner of the 2005 American Anthropological Association’s Franz Boas Award for Exemplary Service to Anthropology during the association’s annual meeting earlier this month. 

The Franz Boas Award is given annually to recognize AAA members’ career achievements in a science or in service to anthropology. This award is the association’s highest honor. 

Darnell was recognized for the many ways in which she has served the profession over the years. From 1999 to 2002, she served as chairwoman of the associations Centennial Executive and Advisory commissions. She also has been a member of AAA’s Executive Boards and the Society for Linguistic Anthropology; is a former president of the Society for Humanistic Anthropology and the North American Association for the History of the Language Sciences; and has served on the editorial boards of many professional journals, including American Anthropologist, AAA’s flagship journal. 

Beyond this service, Darnell is committed to scholarship, having published several books and contributed to other works on the history of anthropology. Her anthropological research focuses on linguistic interactions in Native American communities. 

Founded in 1902, the American Anthropological Association is the world’s largest professional organization of anthropologists and others interested in anthropology, with an average annual membership of more than 10,000. The Arlington, Va.-based association represents all specialties within anthropology - cultural anthropology, biological (or physical) anthropology, archaeology, linguistics and applied anthropology. 


Distinguished University Professor Award 2005


Link to Article



American Philosophical Society 2005


Comments from APS:

Regna Darnell is today the leading historian of North American linguistics and anthropology, from its founding by pioneers like Daniel Brinton and Franz Boas, to Edward Sapir, and the modern field of ethnographic linguistics.  She is one of Canada's most widely published authorities on First Nations languages and cultures, having conducted fieldwork across the continent with speakers of Algonkian, Athabascan, and Iroquoian languages.  Her work represents a unique synthesis of hardminded ethnographic and linguistic description with the sensitivity of the humanistic tradition, bridging the gap between a postmodernist appreciation of cultural uniqueness and a scientific insistence on verifiable observation.








Regna Darnell is the First Recipient

of the the Gene Weltfish Award in 2004,

for her service and contributions to the discipline of anthropology





Dr. Regna Darnell was the year 2000 recipient of the Hellmuth Prize

( the first women to ever be awarded this achievement)

The Hellmuth Prizes for achievement in research were established by the University to provide a way for all members of the Western community to appreciate and celebrate the research achievement of our most distinguished faculty members. They are named in honour of Bishop Isaac Hellmuth (1817-1901), who can be regarded as the founder of The University of Western Ontario. Working with Bishop Benjamin Cronyn, Hellmuth founded Huron College in 1863, and his personal foresight and dedication led to the granting of the charter for 'The Western University of London, Ontario" in 1878. Hellmuth later served as Western's first Chancellor from 1878 to 1884.


Regna Darnell, Ph.D., F.R.S.C.    Phone: 661-2111 x85087, 86429 

Social Science Centre: 3329, 3254, 3255