Fluctuating asymmetry in the protohistoric Arikara

Bioarchaeologists have used fluctuating asymmetry to compare the levels of environmental stress a skeletal population may have encountered during life. Fluctuating asymmetry is traditionally scored on the dentition, though recent studies have also examined the skull and epiphyseal union. Previous bioarchaeological health studies of the Arikara of North Dakota detected significant differences in the levels of environmental stress in pre-contact, contact and post-contact Arikaran populations. This thesis examines three Arikaran archaeological sites, Mobridge, Larson and Leavenworth, in an effort to test the sensitivity of epiphyseal union to environmental stress, measured by fluctuating asymmetry. The data were collected from the Overland skeletal collection housed by the University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s Department of Anthropology. This thesis found that fluctuating asymmetry of epiphyseal union did not reveal any statistically significant differences among the people of the Mobridge, Larson or Leavenworth archaeological sites. These results suggest that epiphyseal union may not be an indicator of environmental stress during development or that the Arikara may exhibit high levels of canalization.