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Anthropology and Archaeological Research

By Gary Morris
© 1986, 1992, 2004, 2009
Updated 05-08-2009
Currently being revised

ABSTRACT: Relationships based on cranial measurements were examined for the area in the Pacific Northwest from the Columbia River to Alaska. This study examined not population means, but each individual within a population. Several methods were employed.

The results suggest two physical types coming from the North and three physical types coming from the south, between about 7,000 and 12,000 years ago.

Coming from the North was a “Denied” physical type, found in the Alaska NaDene Athapaskan, and also within the Paleo Salish. A second type, here referred to as the “Koskimo” type is found in concentrated form on the Northwest Coast of Vancouver Island, and they were the founders of the Wakashan (Kwakiutl - Nootkan) people. The Koskimo type may have been related to the early Aleut, Eskimo, and perhaps earliest Queen Charlotte Islands.

Populations who advanced from the south were (1) Penutian (also a Deneid variant) who early on occupied the upper Columbia River (and more recently the lower Columbia), physically similar to the California Penutian, (2) Fraser Old Cordilleran (found at the Glenrose Cannery Site – descent from an ancient Eastern Oregon band - and who possibly might persist within the Coquitlam Indians, found just east of Vancouver), and the Argylid, whose trace physical type is found highest within the Chinook, Fraser Salish and Wakashan. The Argylid physical type apparently was early on the Columbia River and then spread up the west Cascades thousands of years ago, and up into the Straits and to the Queen Charlotte Islands before 3500 years ago.


In the Pacific Northwest we have several main groupings of Native Populations: Salish, Wakashan (Kwakiutl and Nootka), Penutian (Yakama and Chinook), NaDene (Haida and Athapaskan), and Chemakum. Most findings suggest that Salish, Wakashan, and NaDene were late comers to America, spreading south between 11,000 and 7,000 years ago. Penutian has been suggested to come from the south. Linguists suggest that Chemakum and Wakashan are related at a distance, and that this grouping might also include Salish.

Coming from the south were cultures known as the Old Cordilleran Culture. One group migrated from Southeast Oregon to the Upper Fraser River early, and perhaps another Old Cordilleran populations that inhabited the Columbia and Lower Snake River region in Eastern Washington. This group is assumed to be ancestral to early populations inhabiting Puget Sound (Olcott Phase) and the Northern Olympic Peninsula 10,000 to 4,000 years ago.

This study analyses historic and prehistoric crania from all the populations of the Pacific Northwest. Previous attempts have analyzed them using all the measurements of the skull, however, almost all populations in the Pacific Northwest bound their infants heads in cradles (for social prestige) which causes a distortion of the crania, and many measurements cannot be used to distinguish genetic relationships. Also, most previous studies compared one group to another, averaging everyone within a group into one population, whereas a mixed population must be analyzed on an individual basis.

In this study, each individual was analyzed to first determine the "makeup" of the individual ("purebred", half-breed, etc.). In such a way it was found that considerable crossbreeding has occurred, but much of the ancestral population can be isolated out. This report gives the findings, which attribute a new revealed aspect to the populating of the Pacific Northwest!



DATA: Cranial measurements were obtained for hundreds of individuals from the Pacific Northwest (and hundreds more for comparisons outside of the Northwest). A maximum of 96 measurements were obtained. Much of the data is from the Oetteking material from a century ago.

CRANIAL DEFORMATION: Pacific Northwest Indians used to confine infant’s heads in a carrier that deformed the head, and was supposed to add prestige to their social class. Three types of deformation were practiced: Koskimo (within the Wakashan), Chinook (Penutian), and Cowichan (Salish). The distortion of the cranial vault is not a genetic trait and cannot be used to determine an individual’s interrelationship. Measurements not used were: cranial length, breadth, height, Frontal, Parietal, and Occipital Chords and taped measures, Bizygomatic breadth, Upper Facial Breadth, cranial Circumference).

FIRST, transform each measurement as a percentage of normal undeformed.
SECOND, the percent deformation equals= Average percentage individual deformation from an undeformed population average.
Measurements used for this are: GOL,FRC,PAC,OCC,BNL,XCB,XFB,ZYB,FMB,BBH COWICHAN DEFORMATION (AVERAGE 3.7% DEFORMATION): AVERAGE DEFORMATION for each 1% of average (10 measurements per individual) KOSKIMO DEFORMATION (AVERAGE 3.3% DEFORMATION) AVERAGE DEFORMATION for each 1% of average (10 measurements per individual)

SEXUAL DIMORPHISM: For ease of comparison, this study analyzed all males. Because some populations are too small, and it would be convenient to increase the population size, most Northwest populations used male equivalents for the females, using a simple percentage of difference for normal male/female dimorphism. In my previous report, only Pacific Northwest dimorphisms were used, but I found it much more convenient and slightly more accurate to use the worldwide average.

All individuals/populations were size adjusted to a geometric mean (using a percentage difference of a normal [e.g.-world wide average] population size)(using W.W. Howells abbreviations): Length [GOL, BNL, BPL, FOL, MAL, OCK {Occipital Arc}], Breadth [XCB, NLB, MAB, OBB, DKB, ZMB, FMB, EKB, FOB], and Height [BBH, NPH, NLH, OBH, FRK {Frontal Arc}, PAK {Parietal Arc}.

Each each individual or population is compared to each other: the sum of all measurements, each measurement minus compared ind/pop measurement and squared, divided by variance, all divided by the number of measurements.

For variance I compute variance from the average Coefficient of variation of size adjusted populations (e.g.- world wide average) (standard compution of the Coefficient of Variation is from a population mean, unadjusted, which incorporates variation due to size and shape, whereas by using shape only, the resolution and accuracy of comparing individuals to others is increased, slightly). Variation in size in a "related" population averages about 4-10%, leaving shape variation at 90-96%. Size adjusting the population for obtaining a standard deviation/coefficient of variation increases the resoultion of accuracy in comparing one individual/group to another by about 5%, which helps.

The two individuals-populations are also adjusted for the number of individuals being compared (which, I believe, needs some improvement for extremely small populations less than about 5 individuals): (Count p1+count p2)/(1+(Count p1*count p2)).

This correlation method is a simplified method of Mahalanobis, and does not use several of his features.



After clustering individuals into their respective physical types, then it is possible to graph the resulting groups for a common regional correlation. The following Dendrogram does just that.


updated 6-5-2009

                            0.2       0.4       0.6       0.8       1.0       1.2       1.4       1.6  

PENUTIAN (CONGDON - COLUMBIA RIVER)----------------------------------------------|
    (POORLY RECONSTRUCTED DATA)                                                  | 
WAKASHAN(W.VANCOUV)-|_                                                           |
WAKASHAN(NIMPKISH) -| |__________                                                |
WAKASHAN(FT RUPERT)---|          |                                               | 
                                 |-------|                                       |
ESKIMO (ST LAWRENCE)-------------|       |                                       |
                                         |                                       |
                                         |---|                                   |
PALEO ALEUT        ---------|----|       |   |                                   |---------------\\
PENUTIAN(TLINGIT)  ---|_____|    |       |   |                                   |                \\
PENUTIAN(CHINOOK)  ---|          |-------|   |                                   |                 \\
                                 |           |                                   |                  \\ 
SALISH(UPPER FRASR)---------|____|           |                                   |                   \\
SALISH(HALKOMELEM) -----|___|                |--------|                          |             >>>>2.65  
SALISH(BELLA COOLA)-----|                    |        |                          |             >>>>>>>>
                                             |        |                          |             >>>>>>>>
                                             |        |                          |             >>>>>>>>
NA DENE (HAIDA)    -------------|___________ |        |                          |             >>>>>>>>
NA DENE (NICOLA)   -------------|           ||        |--------------------------|             >>>>>>>>
NA DENE (TLINGIT)  -------------------------|         |                                        >>>>>>>>
                                                      |                                        >>>>>>>>
                                                      |                                        >>>>>>>>
SALISH(LOCARNO B)  -----------------|                 |                                        >>>>>>>>
                                    |-----------------|                                        >>>>>>>>
ARGYLID            -----------------|                                                          >>>>2.65   
FRASER RIVER OLD CORDILLERON (GLENROSE TYPE)-----------------------------------------------------//

                            0.2       0.4       0.6       0.8       1.0       1.2         


(Glenrose Cannery Type)
updated 5-26-2009

With our present knowledge of cranial variation, it is possible to classify Pacific Northwest populations into several main physical types:

This new race produced two main subgroups: A maritime group, including the Eskimo, Aleut, Paleo Queen Charlotte Islands, and the Wakashan (in Wakashan, found historically purest on Northwest Vancouver Island). Early continental groups are found probably in the Paleo Algonquian, and along the West Coast of the Americas from the Columbia River to perhaps as far as Peru (half of the Penutian, half of the Hokan, part of the Aztecan (e.g. - Numic)).

ARGYLID: Some of the longest, narrowest, and highest skulls in America, have been found in the basal levels of the San Juan Islands (originally found at Argyle Lagoon, San Juan Island, and later at Hidden Inlet, Lopez Island). It is possible that this type may be ancestral to the historic Chemakum of the Northern Olympic Penninsula, Washington State, but at present it is difficult to say who the Chemakum actually are. The Argylid type (here named for the Argyle Lagoon Site) has recently been positively identified by distinguishable traits to over a dozen individuals in the Pacific Northwest, the oldest found at the Blue Jackets Site in the Queen Charlotte Islands. Thus, it is now possible to distinguish the identity of the Argylid type. At present it seems that they are a distant group of the same North American Stock as most native Americans, but most likely represent an early isolate and early penetration into the continent. Current speculation suggests them to be the first inhabitants of the Lower Columbia River up to about 4 thousand years ago, with other groups migrating into Western Washington perhaps 8 to 10 thousand years ago, and along the coast up into Northern British Columbia many thousands of years ago. They have been mostly bred out as a pure type.


FRASER RIVER ARCHAIC ("OLD CORDILLERAN"): This type is found at the Glenrose Cannery at the Fraser Delta over 3,000 years ago. The Glenrose Cannery people are the most distinctive of any Pacific Northwest grouping, and one of the most distinctive in the Americas and East Asia.

By 8,000 BC a group of Native Americans migrated from the south, probably from the Great Basin (SE Oregon), and settled on the Upper Fraser River (Millikin Phase). By 7,000 BC they had occupied the Fraser River Delta, and survived until about 1,000 BC when the Salish began invading their territory, either assimilating their genes into the Salish, or adopting the tribe as a sub tribe of their own.

Historically the percentage of this type concentrates along the Fraser River and apparently along the Skagit River also. It seems likely that the historic Coquitlam band are the remnant survivors of the Fraser Delta Archaic. The Coquitlam were slaves of the Kwantlen (Fraser Delta Halkomelem Salish), and that a whole tribe were slaves to another, is almost unheard of anywhere in Salish territory. As tradition goes, the Coquitlam band possessed no land, and during a great winter famine the Coquitlam people sold themselves into slavery to the more numerous and prosperous Kwantlen Tribe.

The Fraser River Archaic have several features which set them apart from others, most notable is their extremely short face. This probably would link them up with the Yuki Indians of Northern California, and thus, both have a probable link with the Great Basin over 10,0000 years ago.

WAKASHAN: The ancestral Wakashan were of the "Koskimo" Type, historically found purest within the Koskimo of NW Vancouver Island. The Koskimo village were claimed to be the "Chiefs of Chiefs", and thus must have retained the "royalty" of the Kwakiutl.

The Wakashan may have inhabited the British Columbia Coastline for 9,700 years (as evidenced from Namu). They were part of a much larger Maritime Oriented Coastal group, linking culturally and physically with the Eskimo and Aleut. Thus, it would seem likely that Wakashan originated by sea, migrating south from Alaska to the BC Coast, about 10,000 years ago.
The Nootka migrated to Western Vancouver Island probably about 3,000 BC (or as late as 1,000 BC). They have mixed with the Argylid and Fraser Delta Archaic, as evidenced by their cranial makeup.

SALISH: The Salish settled on the Upper Fraser River Canyon by 7,500 BC (Nesikep Tradition), to the Lower Fraser River Canyon by 4,300 BC (Eayem Phase), and began spreading outward by 2,500 to 1,500 BC. It was not until about 550 BC that they took over the Fraser River Delta, and outward into the San Juan Islands and southward.

However, at the same time that they spread to the Lower Fraser River Canyon (about 4,400 BC), one group flowed down the River, and out into the Gulf Islands (Mayne Phase), where they eventually became known as the Locarno Beach People (1,500 BC to 550 BC and later in some areas). The Locarno Beach People are more closely related to the Argylid type. The current analysis of the Salish suggests the ancestral type to be similar to a Na Dene/Penutian type, but shows a trend towards the Argylid type. Thus, the present understanding would suggest an early admixture of ancestral Salish with the Argylid type while Salish was still a very small and isolated people, the admixture being perhaps 10-20 percent with the Argylid. With this in mind, it would suggest that the Argylid type comingled with the Salish, but later moved down the Fraser River and out into the Straits and became what we know as the Locarno Beach people.


Photo of a Quileute Man

CHEMAKUM: The Chemakum occupied the Northern Olympic Peninsula by 1,000 BC, and then were probably confined to the Hoko River area between 600 BC and 150 BC. About 150 BC is the estimated time that the Chemakum split into two groups, the Quilleute along the Olympic Coast, and the Chemakum on the NE Olympic Peninsula, near Port Townsend. It is the Chemakum who became extinct over 100 years ago, but the Quilleute are a growing band.

It is likely that the Chemakum have inhabited the Northern Olympic Peninsula since at least 6,500 BC (Manis Mastodon site). Paleo Chemakum probably includes all the prehistoric populations of the Northern Olympic Peninsula and the Old Cordilleran Component in Northern Puget Sound (Olcott Phase) about 4,000 to 8,000 years ago.