The Tallest in the World: Native Americans of the Great Plains in the Nineteenth Century
AbstractHistorians often portray Native Americans as merely unfortunate victims of European disease and aggression, with lives in disarray that followed the arrival of Columbus and other explorers or conquerors. The data we analyze on human stature show, in contrast, that some Native Americans such as the equestrian Plains nomads, were remarkably ingenious and adaptive in the face of exceptional demographic stress. Using anthropometric data originally collected by Franz Boas, we show that the Plains nomads were tallest in the world during the mid-nineteenth century. We link this extraordinary achievement to a rich and varied diet, modest disease loads other than epidemics, a remarkable facility at reorganization following demographic disasters, and egalitarian principles of operation. The analysis provides a useful mirror for understanding the health of Euro-Americans.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Historical Working Papers with number 0112.
Date of creation: Dec 1998
Date of revision:
Contact details of provider:
Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
Web page: http://www.nber.org
More information through EDIRC
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-1999-02-08 (All new papers)
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Dora Costa & Richard H. Steckel, 1997.
"Long-Term Trends in Health, Welfare, and Economic Growth in the United States,"
in: Health and Welfare during Industrialization, pages 47-90
National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Dora L. Costa & Richard H. Steckel, 1995. "Long-Term Trends in Health, Welfare, and Economic Growth in the United States," NBER Historical Working Papers 0076, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Richard H. Steckel, 1995. "Percentiles of Modern Height Standards for Use in Historical Research," NBER Historical Working Papers 0075, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Lorena Walsh, 1992. "Consumer Behavior, Diet, and the Standard of Living in Late Colonial and Early Antebellum America, 1770-1840," NBER Chapters, in: American Economic Growth and Standards of Living before the Civil War, pages 217-264 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Steckel, Richard H. & Floud, Roderick (ed.), 1997. "Health and Welfare during Industrialization," National Bureau of Economic Research Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 1, number 9780226771564.
- Richard H. Steckel, 1982. "Height and Per Capita Income," NBER Working Papers 0880, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Richard H. Steckel & Roderick Floud, 1997. "Health and Welfare during Industrialization," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number stec97-1, October.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ().
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.