Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Trials of the Cherokee were reflected in their skulls

Date:
April 16, 2014
Source:
North Carolina State University
Summary:
Researchers have found that environmental stressors -- from the Trail of Tears to the Civil War -- led to significant changes in the shape of skulls in the eastern and western bands of the Cherokee people. The findings highlight the role of environmental factors in shaping our physical characteristics.

Researchers from North Carolina State University and the University of Tennessee have found that environmental stressors -- from the Trail of Tears to the Civil War -- led to significant changes in the shape of skulls in the eastern and western bands of the Cherokee people. The findings highlight the role of environmental factors in shaping our physical characteristics.

"We wanted to look at these historically important events and further our understanding of the tangible human impacts they had on the Cherokee people," says Dr. Ann Ross, a professor of anthropology at NC State and co-author of a paper describing the work. "This work also adds to the body of literature on environmental effects on skull growth."

The researchers drew on historical data collected by Franz Boas in the late 19th century. Boas collected measurements of the length (front-to-back) and breadth of skulls for many Native American tribes, including hundreds of members of the eastern and western bands of Cherokee.

The researchers analyzed the data, looking only at adults and organizing the adults by year of birth, which ranged from 1783 to 1874. The year of birth, a critical piece of information, provided clues to stressors in an individual's life. For example, the western band of the Cherokee was subject to the Trail of Tears in 1838, intertribal warfare in the West, disease epidemics, and the U.S. Civil War from 1861 to 1865.

The researchers found that head length decreased over time in both bands, for males and females.

In the eastern band, there was a steady decline for males, but a sharp decline for females beginning in the late 1830s -- coinciding with the Trail of Tears, when the eastern band fled into the Great Smoky Mountains to avoid forced evacuation to the West.

In the western band, males and females shared a similar pattern of decline: a sharp decline from the late 1820s to the 1850s, followed by a short increase, and then another sharp decline in the early 1860s with the onset of the Civil War.

"When times are tough, people have less access to adequate nutrition and are at greater risk of disease," Ross says. "This study demonstrates the impact that those difficult times had on the physical growth of the Cherokee people.

"The study also contributes to our understanding of how environmental stressors can influence skull measurements, which has value for helping us understand prehistoric cultures, historic populations, and the impact of environmental factors on the health of current populations in the developing world."

The paper, "Secular trends in Cherokee cranial morphology: Eastern vs Western bands," is published online in the Annals of Human Biology. Lead author of the paper is Rebecca Sutphin, a former graduate student at NC State. The paper was co-authored by Dr. Richard Jantz of the University of Tennessee.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by North Carolina State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Rebecca Sutphin, Ann H. Ross, Richard L. Jantz. Secular trends in Cherokee cranial morphology: Eastern vs Western bands. Annals of Human Biology, 2014; 1 DOI: 10.3109/03014460.2014.902991

Cite This Page:

North Carolina State University. "Trials of the Cherokee were reflected in their skulls." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 April 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140416112954.htm>.
North Carolina State University. (2014, April 16). Trials of the Cherokee were reflected in their skulls. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140416112954.htm
North Carolina State University. "Trials of the Cherokee were reflected in their skulls." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140416112954.htm (accessed August 23, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Drug Used To Treat 'Ebola's Cousin' Shows Promise

Drug Used To Treat 'Ebola's Cousin' Shows Promise

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) An experimental drug used to treat Marburg virus in rhesus monkeys could give new insight into a similar treatment for Ebola. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Two US Ebola Patients Leave Hospital Free of the Disease

Two US Ebola Patients Leave Hospital Free of the Disease

AFP (Aug. 21, 2014) Two American missionaries who were sickened with Ebola while working in Liberia and were treated with an experimental drug are doing better and have left the hospital, doctors say on August 21, 2014. Duration: 01:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cadavers, a Teen, and a Medical School Dream

Cadavers, a Teen, and a Medical School Dream

AP (Aug. 21, 2014) Contains graphic content. He's only 17. But Johntrell Bowles has wanted to be a doctor from a young age, despite the odds against him. He was recently the youngest participant in a cadaver program at the Indiana University NW medical school. (Aug. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
American Ebola Patients Released: What Cured Them?

American Ebola Patients Released: What Cured Them?

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) It's unclear whether the American Ebola patients' recoveries can be attributed to an experimental drug or early detection and good medical care. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins