Popular Science Monthly,

Date: October, 1894

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

Fig. 1. Number of Children of Indian Women and of Half-blood Women.

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.

Indian women 25 years of age have on the average 2 children.

Indian women 28 years of age have on the average 3 children.

Indian women 33 years of age have on the average 4 children.

Indian women 38 years of age have on the average 5 children.

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 exceed 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:


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 brought out in a different manner by grouping all the Indian tribes according to their statures in three classes: 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 of these classes have been plotted in Fig. 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, while only 12.3 per cent of the half blood of the same class have the

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

most frequent stature, belonging to them—namely, 178 centimeters. Among the Indian women of the 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 Fig. 2, with the exception of that of the men of the second group.

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 (Fig. 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 can not 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 conclusions 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. 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.



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Chicago: "The Type of the Half-Breed Indian1," Popular Science Monthly, in Source Book in Anthropology, ed. Kroeber, Alfred L., 1876-1960, and Waterman, T. T. (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1920), Original Sources, accessed December 8, 2023, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=X7JQMYJBABQ2L7P.

MLA: . "The Type of the Half-Breed Indian1." Popular Science Monthly,, in Source Book in Anthropology, edited by Kroeber, Alfred L., 1876-1960, and Waterman, T. T., Berkeley, CA, University of California Press, 1920, Original Sources. 8 Dec. 2023. http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=X7JQMYJBABQ2L7P.

Harvard: , 'The Type of the Half-Breed Indian1' in Popular Science Monthly,. cited in 1920, Source Book in Anthropology, ed. , University of California Press, Berkeley, CA. Original Sources, retrieved 8 December 2023, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=X7JQMYJBABQ2L7P.