A comparison of spinal pathologies in northern and southern native Alaskan skeletal populations
Differences in subsistence patterns between northern and southern Alaskan Native groups should produce differential use wear pathologies of the spine. Skeletal samples from Golovin Bay, Alaska, located on the south side of the Seward Peninsula (64° 30" north and 163° west), and Nunivak Island, off the southwest coast of Alaska (60° north and 166° west), were examined. It has been reported that the subsistence bases for these two populations were distinctly different with a greater reliance on caribou at Golovin Bay and intensive usage of sea resources on Nunivak Island. Biomechanical studies suggest that the stresses on the vertebral column associated with following caribou herds over long distances are greater than those involved with usage of a kayak or umiaq. Osteoarthritis and intervertebral disc herniations are two good indicators of the stress placed on the spinal column during an individual’s lifetime. This study explores subsistence related spinal pathologies using data collected on samples from each of these locations. Specifically, differences in the frequencies of osteoarthritis and intervertebral disc herniations (Schmorl’s nodes) were examined. This research was funded in part by the Smithsonian Institution Office of Repatriation. A special thanks must also be made to the people of Golovin Bay and Nunivak Island for allowing this research to be conducted at the University of Alaska. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, Vol. 114, Supplement 32: 96-97 (Abstract).
Scott S. Legge (2001) A comparison of spinal pathologies in northern and southern native Alaskan skeletal populations. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, Vol. 114, Supplement 32: 96-97 (Abstract).
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