Archival anthropometry : an analysis of the anthropometric data of Native American children gathered by Franz Boas, 1888-1902 Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/2b88qh42x

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  • Franz Boas collected anthropometric data on approximately 15,000 people from over 200 Native American tribal groups between 1888 and 1902. Twelve basic measurements were taken: standing height, shoulder height, height to digit III, arm span, sitting height, shoulder width, head length and width, face height and breadth, and nose height and breadth. At the turn of the century, Boas was unable to efficiently analyze these data. With computers now commonplace, several investigations of the adult anthropometric data have been undertaken in recent years; however, analysis of the child anthropometric data has not been undertaken. This study analyzes child anthropometric data from Western North America, giving special emphasis to children on the Siletz and Klamath Reservations. More specifically, this study investigates the occurrence of morphological differences in Native American children as a result of living within the reservation system. It is well known that environmental factors play a crucial role in child growth and development, and the effect of those factors can be measured through anthropometry. Differences in the growth and development of the children on each reservation can be related to their unique histories. An investigation of the literature and records kept by the Bureau of Indian Affairs reveals differing socioeconomic conditions on the Siletz and Klamath Reservations. Both reservations failed agriculturally, but while many Klamath became successful in cattle raising and logging, the Siletz were unable to fully enter these lucrative occupations. Additionally, the unratified treaties of many Siletz tribes left the reservation without adequate support from the government, while the Klamath received rations and supplies as stipulated by their ratified treaty. Descriptive statistics and growth distance curves reveal that the Klamath are shorter than the total sample of Western North American Indians, and the Siletz, particularly the males, are shorter than the Klamath. The shorter stature is due to the proportionately shorter legs of the Siletz, a finding that is consistent with other studies of populations living in depressed socioeconomic conditions.
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