Reconstruction of Woodland-Historic Lineages for the Tribes of the Northern Plains; the Evidence of Discrete Cranial Traits
Publication Type:Conference Paper
Genetics research on laboratory mice has shown that discrete traits of the skull are predominantly under genetic control. Moreover, analysis of Measures of Divergence (C.A.B. Smith) based on frequencies of the traits in human cranial samples of known relationship has revealed that within-group MD's are smaller than between-group at the .00001 level of significance. It is inferred therefore that these features yield valid taxonomical information that can be used in conjunction with other data to reconstruct affinities of extinct populations. Measures of Divergence based on 24 discrete cranial traits in eight Woodland samples (AD 500-1700 approximately) from the northeastern Plains' periphery, and seven historic tribal samples from the northern Plains, suggest the following lineages: South Blackduck phase - Dakota Sioux, Arvilla phase - Cheyenne, and Manitoba phase - Assiniboin. Because of the rapid cultural change in the protohistoric and historic periods it is unlikely that such attributions could be traced on the basis of cultural evidence. Fortunately gene pools can in some circumstances remain stable, or at least more resistant to change, than material culture or even language. Herein lies the unique potential of skeletal analysis for ethnohistorical reconstruction.