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Dr. John Matthiasson was a Professor of Anthropology at the University of Manitoba. He received a B.A. in Sociology and Philosophy from United College (University of Winnipeg), an M.A. in Sociology and Anthropology from Michigan State University, and a Ph.D. in Cultural Anthropology. He taught at many universities including Marquette University, University of Saskatchewan, Baden Baden University in Germany, and University of Manitoba. Dr. John Matthiasson retired from the University of Manitoba in 1997.
Matthiasson was born on December 21, 1936 in Randoph, Wisconsin to Icelandic parents. As a second generation Icelandic-Canadian, he was very active in the Icelandic community. Part of his research was dedicated to Icelanders adapting to their new homeland. He was an editor of the Icelandic Canadian newspaper and served on the board of the New Iceland Heritage Museum.
Dr. John Matthiasson was an authority on ethnography of far-north cultures. He spent 13 months in 1963 and 1964 living and hunting with the Inuit people on Baffin Island. In his book, Living on the Land: Culture Change Among the Inuit of Baffin Island (1992), he recorded traditional Inuit society before its transition to settlements. He also published many articles and dedicated much of his life to Canadian First Nations issues and their increasing difficulties facing modern Canadian society. As an anthropologist, he traveled to many far away places including Iquazu Fall, Argentina, Tikal, Guatemala, and Asuncion, Paraguay. Dr. John Matthiasson passed away on June 16, 2001.