The 81st Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2012)

Bioarchaeological analysis and repatriation of the massacred Yaqui men, women and children studied by Hrdlicka


Anthropology, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Thursday 12, Forum Suite Add to calendar

The field of bioarchaeology lends itself to a holistic approach to the interpretation and analysis of violence. Bioarchaeologists have been able to broaden the theoretical paradigms surrounding interpersonal and intuitional forms of violence. This project examines skeletal evidence of stress in Yaqui individuals (n = 13) collected in 1902 by Aleš Hrdlička in Sonora, Mexico, after a massacre of 124 men, women, and children by Mexican troops. Remains were examined for evidence of physiological stress, including cribra orbitalia, porotic hyperostosis, dental enamel hypoplasia and skeletal lesions. Data were also collected on healed or healing trauma. Results indicate pervasive stress among the Yaqui, with 77% (n = 10) displaying evidence of physiological stress and 31% (n = 4) displaying evidence of healed or healing trauma. The remains were examined to determine the range and extent of perimortem trauma, antemortem trauma, pathologies and age and sex. Results indicate that several individuals died from blunt force trauma or gunshot to the head: two display evidence of being shot at point-blank range and three display evidence of perimortem blunt force trauma. In addition, three individuals exhibit healed or healing fractures, eight exhibit healing lesions from porotic hyperostosis or cribra orbitalia, and eight exhibit linear enamel hypoplasia. This suite of pathologies supports historical accounts detailing the stress the Yaqui experienced due to pervasive oppression by the Mexican government. This research speaks to how the scholarship of engagement through the repatriation process provides for a more inclusiveness and truly collaborative project that benefits all parties.

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