CTLF Corpus de textes linguistiques fondamentaux • IMPRIMER • RETOUR ÉCRAN
CTLF - Menu général - Textes

Boas, Franz. Race, Language and Culture – T12


The Half-Blood Indian 11

There are few countries in which the effects of intermixture of races
and of change of environment upon the physical characteristics of
man can be studied as advantageously as in America, where a process of
slow amalgamation between three distinct races is taking place. Migration
and intermarriage have been a fruitful source of intermixture in the
Old World, and have had the effect of effacing strong contrasts in
adjoining countries. While the contrasts between European, Negro, and
Mongol are striking, their territories are connected by broad stretches of
land which are occupied by intermediate types. For this reason there
are only few places in the Old World in which the component elements
of a mixed race can be traced to their sources by historical methods.
In America, on the other hand, we have a native race which, although
far from being uniform in itself, offers a marked contrast to all other
races. Its affiliations are closest toward the races of Eastern Asia, remotest
to the European and Negro races. Extensive intermixture with these
foreign races has commenced in recent times. Furthermore, the European
and African have been transferred to new surroundings on this
continent, and have produced a numerous hybrid race the history of
which can also be traced with considerable accuracy. We find, therefore,
two races in new surroundings and three hybrid races which offer a
promising subject for investigation: the Indian-White, the Indian-Negro,
and the Negro-White. The following study is devoted to a comparison
of the Indian race with the Indian-White hybrid race.

It is generally supposed that hybrid races show a decrease in fertility,
and are therefore not likely to survive. This view is not borne out by
statistics of the number of children of Indian women and of half-blood
women. The average number of children of five hundred and seventy-seven
Indian women and of one hundred and forty-one half-blood
women more than forty years old is 5.9 children for the former and 7.9
children for the latter. It is instructive to compare the number of children
for each woman in the two groups. While about ten per cent
138of the Indian women have no children, only 3.5 per cent of the half-bloods
are childless. The proportionate number of half-bloods who have
one, two, three, four, or five children is smaller than the corresponding
number of Indian women, while many more half-blood women than
full-blood women have had from six to thirteen children. This distribution
is shown clearly in Figure 1, which represents how many among
each one hundred women have a certain number of children. The facts
disclosed by this tabulation show that the mixed race is more fertile than
the pure stock. This cannot be explained by a difference of social environment,
as both groups live practically under the same conditions. It
also appears that the small increase of the Indian population is almost
entirely due to a high infant mortality, as under better hygienic surroundings
an average of nearly six children would result in a rapid

image Indian women over 40 years of age | Half-blood | No. of children

Fig. 1. Number of children of Indian women and half-blood women.

increase. It is true, however, that a decrease of infant mortality might
result in a decreased birth rate.

Among the Indians of the Pacific Coast the infant mortality is also
very great, but we find at the same time a still larger proportion of
women who bear no children.

It is of some interest to note the average number of children of women
of different ages as indicating the growth of families. Among the
Indians there is an average interval of four years and a half — as shown
in the following table — which, however, must not be confounded with
an average interval between births:

Indian women 20 years of age have on the average 1 child.
25 | 2 children.
28 | 3.
33 | 4.
38 | 5.

Among the half-bloods the interval is shorter, but the number of available
observations is insufficient for carrying out the comparison in detail.

The statures of Indians and half-bloods show differences which are
also in favor of the half-bloods. The latter are almost invariably taller
than the former, the difference being more pronounced among men
than among women. The White parents of the mixed race are mostly
of French extraction, and their statures are on an average shorter than
those of the Indians. We find, therefore, the rather unexpected result
that the offspring exceeds both parental forms in size. This curious
phenomenon shows that size is not inherited in such a manner that the
size of the descendant is intermediate between those of the parents, but
that size is inherited according to more intricate laws.

From investigations carried on among Whites we know that stature
increases under more favorable surroundings. As there is no appreciable
difference between the social or geographical surroundings of the
Indians and of the half-bloods, it seems to follow that the intermixture
has a favorable effect upon the race.

The difference in favor of the half-blood is a most persistent phenomenon,
as may be seen by a glance at the following table:

Differences of Average Statures of Indians and Half-Bloods

image Tribes | Men (Centimeters) | Women (Centimeters) | Eastern Ojibwa | Omaha | Blackfeet | Micmac | Sioux | Delaware | Ottawa | Cree | Eastern Cherokee | Western Ojibwa | Chickasaw | Choctaw | Tribes of medium stature (165 to 169 centimeters) | Shortest tribes (less than 165 centimeters

The last two entries in this table embrace mainly the Indians of the
Southwest and of the Pacific Coast.

The facts which appear so clearly in the preceding table may be
140brought out in a different manner by grouping all the Indian tribes
in three classes according to their statures: those measuring more than
169 centimeters, or tall tribes; those measuring from 165 to 169 centimeters,
or tribes of medium stature; and those measuring less than 165
centimeters, or short tribes. The frequencies of various statures in each

image men | women | indian | half-blood
Tall Tribes

image men | women | indian | half-blood
Tribes of Medium Stature

image men | women | indian | half-blood
Short Tribes

Fig. 2. Statures of Indians and of half-bloods.

of these classes have been plotted in Figure 2. The horizontal line represents
the individual statures from the lowest to the highest. The vertical
distance of the curves from any point of the horizontal line shows how
many among each one hundred individuals have the stature represented
by that particular point. Thus it will be seen that 14.4 per cent of the
full-blood men of the tallest class have a stature of 172 centimeters,
141while only 12.3 per cent of the half-blood of the same class have the most
frequent stature belonging to them — namely, 178 centimeters. Among
the Indian women of the tall, full-blood tribes 16.8 per cent have a
stature of 158 centimeters, while only 14.4 per cent of the half-bloods
have their most frequent stature — namely, 160 centimeters.

This tabulation brings out the peculiarity that the statures of the
half-bloods are throughout higher than those of the full-bloods; and
that, at the same time, the most frequent statures are more frequent
among the pure race than in the mixed race. This is expressed by the
fact that the curves illustrating the distribution of statures among the
half-bloods are flatter than those illustrating the same feature among
full-bloods. This peculiarity may be noticed in all the curves of Figure 2,
with the exception of that of the men of the second group.

image boys | years | indian boys | half-blood boys | girls
Tall tribes
image boys | years | indian boys | half-blood boys | girls
Tribes of medium stature

Fig. 3. Growth of Indian and half-blood children.

The statures near the average of each group are most frequent and
as these values do not occur as often among the half-bloods as among
the full-bloods, the values which are remote from the average are at
the same time relatively more frequent. Thus it becomes apparent that
the mixed race is less homogeneous than the Indian race.

Another important phenomenon is revealed by a comparison of the
growth of Indians and half-bloods (Figure 3). When the average statures
of children of both races are compared, it appears that during the
early years of childhood the Indian is taller than the half-blood, and that
this relation is reversed later on. This is found in both the groups for
tall tribes and for tribes of medium stature. It is to be regretted that
this comparison cannot be carried on for Whites also. The social surroundings
of the White child are, however, so entirely different from
those of the Indian and of the half-blood children that no satisfactory
142conclusions can be drawn from a comparison. It is difficult to see why
the laws of growth of the Indian and half-blood should differ in this
manner; why the Indian child at the age of three years should be taller
than the half-blood child, and then develop more slowly than the latter. 12
This peculiarity is most striking in the growth of the tribes of medium
stature, as in this case the difference in the statures of adults is so considerable.
Unfortunately, we do not know if the same difference prevails
at the time of birth; but even if this were the case the difference
in the rate of growth would remain mysterious. The various phenomena
described here merely emphasize the fact that the effect of
intermixture is a most complicated one, and that it acts upon physiological
and anatomical qualities alike. We observe in the mixed race
that the fertility and the laws of growth are affected, that the variability
of the race is increased, and that the resultant stature of the mixed race
exceeds that of both parents.

image white | half-breed | indians

Fig. 4. Breadth of face of Indians, half-bloods, and Whites.

One of the most striking characteristics of the Indian face is its great
breadth as compared with that of the Whites. It is therefore of peculiar
interest to compare this measurement among the full-blood Indian, the
half-bloods, and the Whites. The curves on Figure 4 show the result of
this inquiry. Among adult students of American colleges we find an
average breadth of face (between the zygomatic arches) of 140 millimeters,
while the average value among Indians is nearly 150 millimeters.
The facial measurements of the half-bloods are intermediate,
the average value being near the typical Indian measurement and
remote from the White measurement. We find in these curves also the
peculiarity observed before — that the half-blood is more variable than
the pure race. This fact is expressed in the greater flatness of the curve.143

It will be noticed that the central portion of the curve illustrating
the distribution of the measurements of breadth of face of half-bloods
is markedly irregular, particularly that it shows a depression in its
central portion. This might seem accidental, but it will be seen that in
Figures 5 and 6, where the same measurements for the Sioux and Ojibwa
are given, the same phenomenon appears. We see in all these curves
that the measurements which are near those of the parental races appear
more frequently in the mixed race than the intermediate measurements.
It is true that the number of observed cases may seem rather small to

image men | women | indian | half-blood

Fig. 5. Breadth of face, Sioux.

image men | full-blood | ¾ blood | half-breed

Fig. 6. Breadth of face, eastern Ojibwas.

draw this deduction with absolute certainty; but I have noticed that
all tabulations of face and head measurements which include more than
five hundred individuals give very regular curves except in the case of
half-bloods, so that I believe I am justified in interpreting the phenomenon
illustrated in Figure 4 as a real one, and that it is not due to the
small number of measurements. The correctness of this view can be
proved definitely by an appropriate grouping of the available material
according to the following point of view: The breadth of face and the
breadth of head of man are closely correlated. The broader the head,
144the broader the face. Irregularities in the distribution of the measurement
of the face will, therefore, appear more distinctly when individuals
who have the same breadth of head are grouped together. I have
grouped the material in four classes, with the result that the double maximum
of frequency, corresponding to the breadth of face of the parental
types, appears more strongly marked in every class. Therefore we must
draw the important inference that the face of the offspring has a tendency
to reproduce one of the ancestral types — not an intermediate type.
The effect of intermixture in this case differs, therefore, fundamentally
from the effect observed in the measurements of stature.

image indian | half-blood | white | years
image years

Fig. 7. Breadth of face of Indian, half-blood and White children.

When comparing the average breadth of face for Indians, half-bloods,
and Whites, another interesting phenomenon may be seen. The average
breadth of face of the half-blood stands between that of the Indian and
that of the White, but nearer the former. When computing this average
from year to year, it is found that the same relation prevails throughout
from the fourth year to the adult stage, and in men as well as in women
(Fig. 7). The relation of the three groups remains unchanged throughout
life. The amount of White and Indian blood in the mixed race is
very nearly the same. We find, therefore, that the Indian type has a
stronger influence upon the offspring than the White type. The same
145fact is expressed in the great frequency of dark hair and of dark eyes
among half-bloods.

Two reasons may be assigned for this fact. It may be that the dark
hair and the wide face are more primitive characteristics of man than
the narrow face and light eyes of the Whites. Then it might be said
that the characteristics of the Indian are inherited with greater strength
because they are older. It must, however, also be considered that half-bloods
are almost always descendants of Indian mothers and of White
fathers, and this may have had an influence upon the race, although
there is no proof that children resemble their mothers more than they
resemble their fathers. 13

In carrying out the comparison of breadths of face it would be better
to study the curves of distribution for each year, but the number of
observations is insufficient for applying this method. As stated before,

image full-blood | men | women | half-breed

Fig. 8. Height of face, Sioux.

the distribution of measurements is such that the parental types are
more frequent than the average; for this reason the latter has no real
biological significance. It must be considered merely as a convenient
index of the general distribution.

Among the eastern Ojibwa I was able to make a classification into
three groups: Indians, three-quarter bloods, and half-bloods. In this
case (Fig. 6) it will be noticed that the influence of the white admixture
is very slight in the three-quarter bloods. The maximum frequency of
the breadth of face remains at 150 millimeters, and we observe that a
small increase in frequency takes place at 140 millimeters.

From the breadth of face I turn to the consideration of the height
of face — i.e., the distance from the chin to the suture between the nasal
bones and the frontal bone (Fig. 8). This measurement is subject to
considerable variations, on account of the difficulty of determining the
146initial points of the measurement with sufficient accuracy. This accounts
for the irregularity of the curves. It appears clearly that the
face of the half-blood is shorter than that of the White. I am not able
to say whether this phenomenon is due to a general shortening, or
whether the nose, the jaw, or the teeth contribute most to this effect. The
difference between full-blood and half-blood is much smaller than in
the case of the breadth of face.

The two measurements combined show that the Indian face is' considerably
larger than the face of the half-blood, while the latter is in
turn larger than the face of the White. As the head measurements of
the tribes which have contributed to these statistics prove that there is
no appreciable difference between these races regarding the size of the
head, we are led to the conclusion that the Indian face is also relatively
larger than that of the half-blood and of the White.

image full-blood | men | women | half-breed

Fig. 9. Breadth of nose, Sioux.

Another characteristic difference between Indians and half-bloods
will be found by comparing the breadth of nose of both races. It is
well known that the nostril of the Indian is round, and that it is bordered
by thick alae, while the nostril of the White is elongated and
has fine alae. Unfortunately, there are no measurements of the nose
of the White available, but a comparison of the transversal breadths of
the nose of Indian and half-blood (Fig. 9) makes it clear at once that
intermixture has the effect of making the nostril narrower and the alae
thinner, thus producing a much narrower nose. It appears at once that
the nose of the half-blood man is not wider than that of the full-blood
woman. The three-quarter bloods of the Ojibwa (Fig. 10) are found
to take an intermediate position between full-bloods and half-bloods.

We will finally consider the effect of intermixture upon the length
of head from the point between the eyebrows (the glabella) to the
occiput among a tribe with a head that is shorter than that of the
147American White. The Ojibwa has a head which measures about 191
millimeters, while that of the White measures about 195 millimeters. A
comparison of the three classes (Fig. 11) shows a gradual increase in
length from the full-blood, through the three-quarter blood, to the

image full-blood | men | ¾ blood | half-breed

Fig. 10. Breadth of nose, eastern Ojibwas.

image pure indian | men | more than half | less then half

Fig. 11. Length of head, eastern Ojibwas.

We find, therefore, that the laws of heredity in the forms of the head
and face are uniform, in so far as intermediate forms are produced.
I presume, however, that in all these cases the middle forms are not
found as frequently as forms resembling the two parental types.148

11 Popular Science Monthly (October, 1894).

21 According to the data given on pp. 117-119, this may indicate a more rapid
development of the young Indian.

31 This would be expressed now-a-days by saying that the Indian type contains
dominant elements.