Craniometric relationships of aboriginal specimens from Manitoba

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Wyman, Jeffrey M.
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As early as 1992 it was apparent that an arrangement was going to be reached with Aboriginal groups in Manitoba for the repatriation of cultural and biological materials. Through my employment at the University of Winnipeg I had been involved in the forensic study of human remains, from Manitoba, many of which were Aboriginal in origin. The study of these remains had to be accelerated. Otherwise, we risked the repatriation of materials that had been in our possession, but upon which no analysis was conducted. The physical remains came from a number of sources. Some come from deliberate excavations of burials conducted during the early part of the century. While deliberate exhumations of non-threatened burials had long ceased by 1992, salvage excavations of threatened sites have continued, and some of these have yielded human remains. Furthermore, the annual processes of erosion had uncovered skeletal remains, revealed by chance and collected or excavated and sent to the University of Winnipeg for analysis. I knew that many crania had been recovered from Manitoba over the years. A compilation of existing specimens yielded a total of 150 specimens which provided a number sufficiently large for analysis. The primary hypothesis developed here is that it may be possible, using appropriate techniques, to identify within a large sample of human crania from a variety of contexts, significant clusters or groups that might represent different biological populations that inhabited this region in the past. A series of questions arise from this hypothesis and will be addressed throughout the thesis. When clusters appear, can they be identified as representing specific archaeological or ethnic groups? Can relationships between the different identified groups be defined in biological terms and will this be reflective of defined cultural differences? Can ancestor/descendent links between archaeological and more recent ethnic groups be established? This dissertation is organized into six subsequent chapters. Chapter two discusses the methodology used and the reasons for selecting each mode of analysis. Chapter three provides a brief thumbnail sketch of some of the groups and cultures that were present in this region. Although the Native presence here stretches back to the Paleo-Indian Period, only groups likely to be represented in the cranial remains, both in the main and comparative samples, were discussed. This section looks at archaeological, historical and linguistic evidence in the attempt to identify specific cultures that existed here and which might be represented in the cranial data. Chapter four discusses the sources of the samples used in this dissertation. In this chapter, I describe where I acquired the specimens used in the primary analysis and the sources of my comparative data. In this section I also detail the division of the sample into groups as discussed above. The fifth chapter deals with date collection, sex and age assessment of the specimens, measurement and the estimation of missing variables. The sixth chapter covers the results of the many computer runs. The final chapter gives my conclusions. (Abstract shortened by UMI.)