Craniometric Indicators of Ancestry among French Americans


  • Heidi E. Miller Department of Anthropology, University of Indianapolis
  • Christopher W. Schmidt Department of Anthropology, University of Indianapolis


ancestry, craniometrics, French American


The accidental discovery of human remains washed out of the Wabash River bank in northwestern Indiana has led to attempts to identify them. The individuals are thought to be associated with Fort Ouiatenon, a historic French fur trading post constructed in 1717. The contents of the site (12T1198), found approximately 1.6 km from the fort, include human remains and associated coffin nails. The human remains studied (n = 3) were fragmented and incomplete. This study attempts to determine ancestry of the individuals using metric indicators, following procedures laid out in Standards for Data Collection of Human Skeletal Remains (Buikstra & Ubelaker 1994) and analyzed utilizing SPSS version 23. The study built a database of individuals of French, non-French European, and African ancestries. Analysis was conducted using discriminant function analysis to cluster and predict ancestries. The results of the study were successful in differentiating French ancestry, but the individuals of 12T1198 could not be confidently placed within this group. However, post priori analysis suggests a large amount of gene flow occurring early in the Americas causing individuals of French American ancestry to plot within different groups. The individuals of 12T1198 align with this discovery by plotting into multiple groups. The ultimate designation of these burials as European points to a possible association with Fort Ouiatenon, meaning they may be among the first French settlers in the area.