Canada Anthropology

By | December 25, 2021

For most of Canada, the anthropological data that can be used directly or indirectly are very scarce. The entire inland region west of Hudson Bay as far as Alaska is roughly unknown from the point of view of anthropological morphology. We have more or less abundant data: 1. on the regions of the Arctic coast from the Bering Strait to Labrador and Newfoundland (an area inhabited by the Eskimos); 2. over the indented region of the Pacific coast up to a certain distance inland; 3. on the southernmost territories adjacent to the border with the United States. It is true that the degree of population of the entire internal region mentioned above is very scarce and that it is unlikely that that area, anthropologically little explored, present facts very different from those of the southernmost territories of Canada and from those of the so-called Great Plains region of the United States. (For the anthropological characters of the Eskimos of the Arctic border, seeEskimos). For Canada 2007, please check

The dominant type in the southernmost territories of Canada (Assiniboin, Manitoba, Ontario) with an Algonquian language is, in short, the Red Indian type, characterized by a broad-short (brachycephalic) head of medium height and a high-narrow nose (leptorino); the eye is sometimes not completely open, without being a Mongolian eye: the nose is generally very prominent, especially at the bottom; cheekbones strong, massive and often a little apart; the forehead is often more or less receding; tall stature (see moreover the description of this type under the heading america). In the East, however, and precisely in the area adjacent to lakes Erie and Ontario, this type had to be profoundly modified by the characters of the prehistoric Iroquois, who remained largely south of the two aforementioned lakes. In fact, the skulls of the Neutral and the Huron, residents of the Canadian territory north of the two eastern lakes, have high percentages of dolichocephalic-platyrrhines, which in fact constitute the majority of prehistoric Iroquois. The current ones are instead brachycephalic. Indeed, the characters mentioned in the prehistoric Iroquois suggest that they, as far as the descriptive facial characters are concerned, were quite different from the common Native American type. In fact, dolichocephaly can be considered, in the area, as an indication of the presence of descriptive characters of the face that are different and more similar to those of Central Americans and Californians, namely: nose well prominent in general at the root, eye well open, face narrow at the top due to scarce prominence of the cheekbones, airy physiognomy those of southern Europeans. But this platyrrine dolichocephalic element is present according to Dixon (v. Bibl.) As a minority in many other Algonquian tribes of this eastern area, Missisauga, eastern Ogibway, Ottawa, Montagnais, Micmac.

As for the Pacific coastal area, Sera demonstrated in 1913 how, as one ascends towards the north and starting from Vancouver Island, the proportion of a platycephalic-brachycephalic type increases. And in 1918 he indicated that this type, perhaps to a greater extent, owes the strong Mongolian characters of this area. In fact, Boas affirmed that Mongoloidism in this area is much more pronounced than in the inner one to the east, although one should not speak of true Mongolism. But this is true, we believe, for the northern part of it, more than for the southern part. At the level of the island of Sitka, the proportion of brachiplatycephalics is already about half and most likely increases towards the North and the West, up to representing, in the Aleuts, the majority.

Dixon states that in general the predominant type in the whole Pacific area is the Red Indians, but that there are very profound local differences. He has shown how in the Haida and Tsimshian a brachycephalic, platyrrine type is present in high percentages, even predominant in the Haida of the Queen Charlotte Islands, which is therefore different from the Red Indian type. Dixon also stated, more clearly than the previous authors, how going further south, that is to the Vancouver Island, and among the Kutenai, there is a dolichocephalic element which is very appreciable numerically, unlike what is observed in the populations belonging to the group Salish and the Coliuscio group, which do not have it at all. In the southern Kutenai this dolichocephalic element would even predominate. To these facts would be parallel variations of the stature, which would be m. 1.73 in the Coliusci, 1.69 in the Tsimshians, 1.64 in the Vancouver residents. The Salish tribes would exhibit a continuous increase in stature going from west to east and reaching 1.67-1.68 in parallel with the amount of Red Indians blood they contain. The shorter stature would be presented by the tribes of the Fraser Delta and Harrison Lake, characterized by the strongest brachycephaly. The facts presented by these tribes (Lillooet) are very interesting, but have not yet been studied sufficiently. We suppose that they indicate more marked persistence of the primitive brachiplaticephalic layer, which we said initially covered the area, the layer to which we owe the Mongoloid appearance of these populations.united states), only that further south it would present more crude forms to adaptation of an environmental nature. This would explain how narrow nasal shapes predominate in Vancouver, while in California the same type would have broad shapes. The interpretation of the strong brachycephalic-platyrrine-like percentages found by Dixon among the Haida and Tsimshians still seems doubtful to us. Two interpretations are possible, in the absence of sufficient descriptive data and good photographic material: or that the said type is the refinement product of the Californian type (see america) as regards the cephalic index, a broad shape of the skull having developed, while the platyrrhynia has been preserved; or that it is none other than the brachiplaticephalic type of which we have said before. The data on the Aleuts, in which we find high percentages of wide noses, make us suppose that this is very probable, thus verifying a phenomenon that is now quite rare in people of the Mongoloid type, that is, the persistence of low and wide noses. We lean towards that explanation. If this were correct, there would be another character in the platyrrhynia of this area testifying to its great archaicity.

In the Fraser shell accumulations dolichocephalic skulls have been found in the lower layers; in the highest, brachycephalic skulls. It is therefore evident that the first type in the region is older than the second. Wanting to reconstruct the stratification of the different types, we believe that the broad and Mongolian Platicephalic is the most ancient; it would be followed by the dolichocephalic, which would however remain coastal; after this the Native American type coming from the east and north would arrive, but he would stop almost at the Salish territory, without going south. The first type would be on the area in a noticeable reduction as you go down south. However, it is reasonable to suppose that a brachycephalic and platyrrine type, evolution of the Californian, gave elements to this area.

Canada Anthropology