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Ernest William Hawkes.

Skeletal measurements and observations on the Point Barrow Eskimo with comparisons from other Eskimo groups online

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Skeletal Measurements and Observa
tions on the Point Barrow Eskimo
with Comparisons from other
Eskimo Groups



BY

I

ERNEST WILLIAM HAWKES



THESIS PRESENTED TO THE FACULTY OF THE GRADUATE

SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA IN

PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQURIEMENTS

FOR THE DEGREE OF PH.D.



PRESS OF

THE NEW ERA PRINTING COMPANY
LANCA51 ER, PA.

19 10



EXCHANGE



o

[Reprinted from the AMERICAN ANTHROPOLOGIST, Vol. 18, No. 2, April-June, 1916]



SKELETAL MEASUREMENTS AND OBSERVATIONS OF
THE POINT BARROW ESKIMO WITH COMPARI
SONS WITH OTHER ESKIMO GROUPS

BY ERNEST WILLIAM HAWKES

PREFACE

PR the past six years the author has made an intensive study
of that very interesting people, the Eskimo. Between three
and four years of this time have been spent in work among
them, in Bering strait and on the Yukon river in Alaska/, and in
Labrador and Hudson bay in the east. Although the author has
been principally interested in the ingenious culture of these masters
of environment, the opportunity for physical observation has not
been neglected. Consequently, when an opportunity offered for
filling in a gap in the physical anthropology of the Eskimo, through
the presence of a very complete and fair-sized skeletal collection
from Point Barrow, Alaska, in the Wistar Institute of Anatomy in
Philadelphia, which had been left untouched since its collection in
1898, the author was very glad to supplement his information on
this subject.

A year was spent on the material with the following results.
The collection was measured and its general characteristics out
lined and comparisons instituted with other Eskimo tribes. Later,
the comparison may be extended to include the Indians bordering
on the Eskimo.

The author wishes to thank the University of Pennsylvania for
its cordial support in this work, and the Director of the Wistar Insti
tute of Anatomy for generous accommodations during the pursuit
of the same. He also wishes to acknowledge his indebtedness to
Mr. Ralph Linton for the measurements of the long bones, and much
helpful assistance in the completion of the work.

203



448351



204 AMERICAN ANTHROPOLOGIST [N. s., 18, 1916

INTRODUCTION

^ The ^Eskimo present the unique spectacle of a people extending
for five thousand miles across the entire northern border of a con
tinent, living under the same climatic environment, and practically
homogeneous throughout in customs and speech. Consequently,
they offer a problem which is not only sectional but general, and
any light which may be thrown upon their development, particu
larly the physical side, is of interest in connection with the general
problem of the relation of man to his environment. Although the
present investigation has been limited to local and racial com
parisons, the peculiar situation of the Eskimo may make the results
suggestive of the larger problem.

In the following pages we have concerned ourselves chiefly with
the description of skeletal material from a hitherto little-studied
branch of this people, the Alaskan Eskimo. The collection includes
twenty-eight crania, male, female, adolescent, and infantile, and
three skeletons, brought down from Point Barrow, at the extreme
northern point of Alaska, in 1898 by E. A. Mcllhenny. The Point
Barrow Eskimo, as will be remembered from Murdoch s 1 report,
possess the simple Arctic culture characteristic of the more isolated
tribes of the central and eastern Eskimo, and are as yet unin
fluenced by an intermixture of Indian customs and mythology, as
is the case with the more southerly Alaskan Eskimo tribes. Their
isolation has also preserved the purity of their physical type. The
only possibilities of intermixture are with the Athapascan tribes of
the interior, who are very rarely met with on spring hunting trips
into the interior, and from whom they are separated by inland
Eskimo tribes, and with the white whalers, whose influence, as
Stefansson has shown, has been of such short duration that it has
not affected the native type. Furthermore, they are separated
from the Mackenzie river Eskimo, the next division to the east,
by some two hundred miles of uninhabited coast line, and only
come in contact with them at infrequent intervals for trade at Barter
island, or on whaling trips.

1 John Murdoch, "Ethnological Results of the Point Barrow Expedition" (Ninth
Annual Report Bureau of Ethnology, pp. 1-441. Washington, 1892).



HAWKES] SKELETAL MEASUREMENTS, POINT BARROW ESKIMO 2O5

Thus, the Point Barrow Eskimo have not been subject to
Athapascan influence, like the interior Alaskan tribes, nor to the
mixture of Northwest Coast and Russian customs present on the
Yukon, nor directly to the strong Siberian influence in Bering strait.
Consequently, they offer distinct advantages as a pure Alaskan
group.

For purposes of comparison the Southampton island Eskimo
have been accepted as typical of the central group. Their situa
tion precludes any possibility of Indian contact and they very
rarely met even other Eskimo tribes. Furthermore, we have an
excellent intensive physical study of these people by Dr. Hrdlicka, 1
which is a great aid in comparison. In our comparative tables we
have followed the accepted routes of Eskimo migration, which
appear to reveal certain well-defined tendencies in physical type as
well as culture.

The Eskimo are particularly valuable as offering a fairly constant
racial type for comparison with widely different Indian tribes
throughout their extent. Their physical influence on two Indian
stocks as different as the Athapascan and Algonkian is fully as
significant as their cultural influences. Dr. Boas has suggested
the strength of this influence in the east. 2

On the other hand, it would appear from our investigation that
the influence of the Indian on the Eskimo type in Alaska, at least
in the northern section, has been overestimated. In the crania avail
able we find that the majority of Alaskan Eskimo approximate the
central type, and in individuals the racial characteristics, as the
broad face, narrow nose, etc., are as strongly developed as in that
area. Possibly the superior stature of the western group may be as
much due to better food, clothing, and housing conditions as to an
intermixture with Indian tribes, an assumption which has not yet
been proven.

Particular attention has been given in this investigation to
sexual differences which were found to be considerable. We find

1 "Contribution to the Anthropology of the Central and Smith Sound Eskimo"
(Anthropological Papers of the American Museum of Natural History, Vol. V., part i).

2 Franz Boas, "Physical Types of the Indians of Canada." (Annual Archaeolog
ical Report, p. 88. Ontario, 1905.)



206 AMERICAN ANTHROPOLOGIST [N. s., 18, 1916

that the exaggerated features, such as breadth of face as compared
with breadth of head, on which particular stress has been laid, are
not expressed in the female, but are a characteristic of the male,
not only in the Alaskan but in the other Eskimo groups. The
general tendency is for the male to reproduce the racial type in an
exaggerated form. Consequently, owing to the scarcity of female
measurements, or the ignoring of sexual differences, as in Bessels
work, 1 a set characteristic has been accepted as a racial trait.

In dealing with the mandible we have followed the illuminating
suggestions of Thompson and worked out the indices which indicate
the leverage of the jaw. The theory of the comparative shallow-
ness of the glenoid fossa in the Eskimo being the result of the rotary
motion of the mandible and the food used by them, as embodied in
the recent study by Knowles, 2 has also been considered for this
group. It was generally found to hold good and is being worked
out in detail for later publicat on.

The crania offered examples of infantile, adolescent, and adult
forms of dentition, for which both dental and cusp formulae have
been worked out. It was found that certain primitive character
istics, such as the additional cusp of the third molar, and the meeting
of the incisors edge to edge, were present in this group.

The skeletal proportions are somewhat larger than those given
by Hrdlicka for the Smith sound Eskimo, but the form is as typical.
Certain very primitive characteristics, such as the perforation of
the olecranon fossa and the extreme forward curve of the femur,
were noted in the female skeleton.

INCREASE IN STATURE AMONG THE WESTERN ESKIMO
The Alaskan Eskimo are a taller and more symmetrical people
than their brethren of the central and eastern districts. They
lack that appearance of stoutness and squatness inherent in the
eastern stock, and for proportion and development of the various
parts of the body they do not compare unfavorably with Indians

1 Bessels, Emil. "Einige Worte iiber die Inuit (Eskimo) des Smith Sundes, nebst
Bemerkungen iiber Inuit Schadel" (Archiv f. Anthropologie, VIII., 1875).

2 Knowles, F. H. S. " The Glenoid Fossa in the Skull of the Eskimo." (Canadian
Geological Survey, Museum Bulletin, No. 9.)



HAWKES] SKELETAL MEASUREMENTS, POINT BARROW ESKIMO 2O/

and whites. It is not unusual to find in an Alaskan Eskimo village
several men who are six feet tall, with magnificent shoulders and
arms and bodily strength in proportion. The usual height
however is about 168 centimeters for men, which is some 10 cm.
above the height of the eastern Eskimo. The Central Eskimo
(Southampton islanders), according to Hrdlicka, average about
162 cm. in height. The average for women among the western
Eskimo is 158 cm., which approximates the height of the men in
the Hudson bay region (158 cm., Boas). The female type in Alaska
is taller and slimmer than in the east, and the width of the face is
considerably less. Eskimo women of large stature are often seen
in the northern section of Alaska. The individual variation here
is more conspicuous than in Labrador or Hudson bay.

Whether these changes in physical type in the west are due to
changed conditions or to intermixture with Indian or Asiatic tribes
is an open question. The conditions of life of the Eskimo in the
west are appreciably different. They occupy permanent villages
of comfortable stone and wood iglus, as opposed to the shifting
winter snowhouse and summer tent of the eastern group. For
hunting game on the water, the Western Eskimo has for the most
part abandoned the kayak for the larger and roomier umiak while
most of the hunting on the sea ice and land is done on foot instead
of with the dog sledge. Long distance foot races form one of their
winter sports, and the boast of the old hunters is that they were
able in their prime to run down a reindeer after an all day chase
through deep snow. Consequently, we find the lower limbs much
better developed here than we do further east. This may account
in part for the increase in stature in the west.

The rest of the body, as well as the long limbs, has developed
into larger proportions in the west. Better food and clothing, as
well as better housing, may have assisted here. To one who has
seen both regions, as the author has been privileged to do, there can
be no question as to the superior environment of the Western
Eskimo. One coming from Alaska to Labrador and Hudson bay
is struck with the poverty of life in the eastern district, the
hazardous food supply, and the scantiness of the material culture.

14



208 AMERICAN ANTHROPOLOGIST [N. s., 18, 1916

The walrus, still abundant in Alaskan waters, have largely forsaken
the eastern coast. Whales are more frequent in Arctic Alaska,
although rapidly growing less, than in Hudson bay as the number of
whaling ships might testify. There is no such tremendous competi
tion by white sealers and fishers in the west as obtains on the
Labrador coast. Although the eastern region has the advantage
in wild reindeer, the Alaskan Eskimo has drawn on the tame herds
of his cousin, the Chukchi, since early times, for warm clothing,
and now, thanks to the American government, has herds of his
own. The general outlook of the Eskimo ,in the west appears
more favorable, and his condition an improvement over the old
home region of Hudson bay. Consequently, we might expect
increased stature without taking into account a possible intermixture
with the Indians of the west, which is difficult of proof.

The author does not see why the possibilities of intermixture
with Indian tribes are any greater in the west than the east. So
far as we know, the Eskimo have been in contact with the Indians
in the east as long as in the west. In both regions there has been
constant warfare and a deep-seated and ancient racial antipathy.
No cases of intermixture have been recorded, although there is a
bare possibility of an intermixture previous to historical times. It
is true that the Alaskan Eskimo, from the Yukon south, have bor
rowed much of Indian customs and mythology, but even here the
racial type is well preserved and the boundary sharply marked.
The northern Alaskan Eskimo have more intercourse with Siberia
through the Diomede islands than with the interior Athapascan.
A very ancient trade has been followed by a considerable inter
mixture of blood in the Bering strait region. The inhabitants of
the Diomedes take their descent in about equal proportions from
the American and Asiatic sides of the strait. Those Eskimo who
have penetrated to the Asiatic side (the Asiatic Eskimo) are now
bi-lingual and have adopted the dress and habitations of the Chukchi.
The amalgamation of these peoples is now nearly complete, the
Eskimo only occupying a few remaining villages on the Siberian
shore. Long before the advent of the white man in these parts,
they made visits in company to the American side, first hostile, and



HAWKES] SKELETAL MEASUREMENTS, POINT BARROW ESKIMO 2OQ

later in the way of trade. Kotzebue sound was the ancient trading
place, where the tribes gathered in summer in large numbers from
both sides of the strait. It is in this section that we find the
increase in stature most pronounced, rather than on the Yukon or
in the extreme south. Consequently, we must take into account
the possibility of intermixture from Siberia as well as from the
interior of Alaska, in considering the changes in physical type of the
Eskimo in the west. However, it must be remembered that these
changes have not been sufficient as yet to overcome the main features
of the original type.

THE ACTION OF THE TEMPORAL MUSCLES ON THE SHAPE OF THE

SKULL

In the adult male crania of this series the temporal crest is well
marked and very high (see pi. ix). It does not appear so
prominently in. the female skulls and hardly at all in the infantile
and adolescent series. The extensive plane covered by the temporal
muscle on the adult skull would indicate a very strong development
of the same.

Arthur Thompson, in his paper on Man s Cranial Form, has
worked out the possible effects of the lateral pressure exerted by the
temporal muscles on the skull. This was done by exerting pressure
by means of fibers of silk on the temporal plane of an artificial skull
inflated with air, which resulted in a compensatory increase in the
height and length of the skull. The experiment suggested that the
action of the temporal muscles on the Eskimo skull was similar.

Hrdlicka later showed that the effect of the temporal muscles
on the infantile skull was slight, and, as the articulations became
more firm, the increased resistance would offset the pressure of the
muscles. He suggested that the temporal muscles act as confining
pads, and that the growing skull, conforming to the line of least
resistance, enlarges in the other two main directions, namely, height
and length.

The pressure of the temporal muscles is proportional to the
amount of their use. Consequently, we should expect to find the
female skull much more scaphoid than the male, as the Eskimo



2IO AMERICAN ANTHROPOLOGIST [N. s., 18, 1916

women are almost constantly engaged in chewing boot soles and
skins outside of the regular exercise the muscles would get in eating.
But the contrary is true. The female skull is broader and less
scaphoid than the male, and the temporal surfaces less marked.
The cephalic index of the female skulls is 76.06 in our series, as
contrasted with the purely dolichocephalic skulls of the males, which
average 72.65. The adolescent and infantile crania also tend
toward mesocephaly, with average cephalic indices of 75.26 and
77.68 respectively. The term mesaticephalic, then, fits the appear
ance of the female and young skulls more accurately. The doli
chocephalic character of the head would appear to be attained in
growth. In the more scaphoid type of the male skull perhaps we
have another evidence of the adult male producing the racial char
acteristics in an exaggerated form.

SEX DIFFERENCES

The importance of the sex variation in the Eskimo is considerable,
and appears to have been overlooked by most investigators. Duck
worth and Pain, in their valuable correlation of Eskimo head and
skull measurements, were careful to make this distinction. The
main variation in the Point Barrow skulls, outside of the more
scaphoid appearance of the male skull already mentioned, is in the
relation of the breadth of face to the width of the head. In nearly
every case it is under 100 in the females and over 100 in the males,
the breadth of face being excessive in the males but less than the
width of head usually in the females. Both the facial and frontal
width approximate the maximum breadth of the skull more closely
in the female than in the male. The cephalic and altitudinal
indices are higher in the female, although the capacity is consider
ably less. The facial and nasal indices agree fairly well in both
sexes. The palatal (external) index of the female is higher than
that of the male, and the palate broader, due to the extensive use
mentioned above. The alveolar prognathism of the two sexes is
practically the same (97.53 being the alveolar index for males, and
97.198 for females). The adult condition does not seem to differ
greatly from that of the adolescent (alveolar index 97.706). (See
Table A.)



HAWKES] SKELETAL MEASUREMENTS, POINT BARROW ESKIMO 211



The mandible of the male is heavier and larger absolutely, but
not proportionally. The general development and lines in both
sexes is similar. The coronoid index, which indicates the leverage
of the jaw (as formulated by Thompson) , is remarkably uniform in

TABLE A

ESKIMO CRANIA FROM POINT BARROW, ALASKA
Measurements as to Form; Prognalhism



Cat. No.


Sex


Bas. Pro.


Bas. Nas.


Alv. Index


5400


male


104


104


IOO.OO


5401




III


106


95-50


5403




97


101


96.04


5406




105


108


97.22


5408




105


108


97.22


5409




96


IO2


94.12


5410




98


106


92.45


5411




107


108


99.07


5414




H3


116


97.41


5415




105


105


IOO.OO


5418




109


107


101.87


5423




107


107


IOO.OO


5425




104


IO2


101.96


5426




IOO


108


92.59


Averages




104.3


106.2


97-53


5402


fern.


99


102


97.06


5405


"


97


98


98.98


54i6


* *


95


IOI


94.06


5420


* *


97


98


98.98


5428




94


97


96.91


Averages




96.4


99-2


97.198


5404


adol.


94


96


97.92


5407


1


89


93


95.70


5413





86


90


95-56


5417





99


IO2


97.06


5421





92


92


IOO.OO


5424




96


9 6


IOO.OO


Averages




92.6


98.1


97.706


5412


inf.


78


85


91.76


5422


"


80


83


96.39


Averages




79


8 4


94.075



male and female (39.75 for males and 39.19 for females). The
mandibular index is greater in the male (100.15 for males and
90.478 for females). This is due to the female mandible being rela-



212 AMERIC&N ANTHROPOLOGIST [N. s., 18, 1916

tively shorter and broader than the male, probably due to the
more extensive rotary use of the same. The male mandible is
approximately as long (condylosymphisial length) as it is wide
(bi-condylar width.) The gripping and grinding powers of the
jaws in both sexes is tremendous. The Eskimo workman uniformly
uses his teeth to reinforce his hands in tightening lashings or undoing
knots of frozen sealskin. The constant chewing by the women soon
wears their teeth to a common level. The inclination of wear is
slightly oblique, and pronouncedly so in the men, the outer edge
of the teeth being worn on the lower jaw and conversely above (see
pi. xiv). In both sexesS;here is a strengthening of the alveolar
process at the molars to withstand the heavy strain put upon them.
The molars themselves often show an extra cusp, and sometimes
an accessory one, while the third molar in many cases has a foliated
appearance, giving additional small cusps.

The bones of the incomplete female skeleton were found to be
much more primitive than those of the two male skeletons. The
olecranon fossa were perforated, and there was an excessive forward
curve of the femur which was absent in both male skeletons. The
exostoses for the attachment of muscles were also more pronounced
in .the, female skeleton. Generally speaking, the female skeleton
strikes one as more primitive and less differentiated, and the male
as more specialized toward a racial type.

THE FORM OF THE PELVIS

The female pelvis in the Eskimo is chiefly remarkable for its
large dimensions. A specimen from Davis strait measured by
Turner gave the following results:

Conjugate Transverse Oblique

Brim 45/8 in. 6 in. 5 6/8 in.

Cavity 55/8 " 52/8 " 54/8 "

Outlet 52/8 " 51/8 " 54/8 "

Circumference of Brim 16 1/2 in.

Depth of Pelvis 4

Index of Brim 76

The female pelvis in the present series was incomplete, only one
innominate bone remaining. The dimensions of the same were,



HAWKES] SKELETAL MEASUREMENTS, POINT BARROW ESKIMO 21$

height 205 mm., breadth 150 mm., index 73.13. The measurements
of the male pelvis were as follows, max. breadth (external) 299
mm., general pelvic index 78.92, ant. post, diameter 106 mm., lateral
diameter (internal) 132 mm., pelvic index at superior strait 80.30.
It will be seen from the above dimensions that in the Eskimo as
in other races, the male pelvis is larger in the brim but smaller in
the outlet than the female pelvis. The dimensions of the outlet
appear to be unusually large in the female pelvis, which accounts
for the swift and easy parturition of the Eskimo women reported.
There is a general custom among the Alaskan Eskimo of expelling
the infant by pressing on the abdomen. This operation is performed
by certain old women, who act as midwives for the village. A stout
sealskin thong is drawn tightly around the waist of the patient,
the position of the child located, and pressure exerted downward
by the operator, who stands behind the patient with hands locked
over the abdomen. The patient kneels on the floor, in which
position she is delivered in a short time. The operation is not usu
ally commenced until labor is well under way.

OCCURRENCE OF AN EXTRA VERTEBRA IN THE ESKIMO

In the complete male skeleton (5864) thirteen dorsal vertebrae
were found instead of the normal twelve. The eleventh, twelfth
and thirteenth vertebrae closely approximated in form the normal
tenth, eleventh, and twelfth. The thirteenth vertebra was of normal
size and thickness, with well-developed lateral facets for the attach
ment of ribs. The thirteenth rib was present on both sides, being
rather smaller than the normal twelfth rib, but still well developed.
The twelfth rib, on the other hand, was much longer than in normal
individuals, and showed signs of cartilaginous attachment at the
tips.

The incomplete skeleton (5429) also gave evidence from the
articulation of the presence of an additional vertebra between the
twelfth dorsal and first lumbar vertebra. Turner in the Challenger
Reports also mentions the occurrence of a supernumerary vertebra
in this position in the case of two Australians and an Eskimo female
skeleton examined by him. More recently Charles Dawson has



214 AMERICAN ANTHROPOLOGIST [N. s., 18, 1916

drawn attention to the frequency of extra vertebrae in the Eskimo.
He treats it as a racial characteristic acquired through the continual
balancing necessary in handling a kayak.

The wonderfully light construction of this little craft, made of
driftwood and skins, without keel or ballast, requires continual
tension to keep it from capsizing. Under these circumstances, it is


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Online LibraryErnest William HawkesSkeletal measurements and observations on the Point Barrow Eskimo with comparisons from other Eskimo groups → online text (page 1 of 4)