Published In

Journal of Northwest Anthropology

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2007


Epidemiology -- North America -- History -- 18th century, Epidemiology -- North America -- History -- 19th century, Indians of North America -- Diseases -- History -- 18th century, Indians of North America -- Diseases -- History -- 19th century


Twelve years ago, Roderick Sprague asked the authors-an anthropologist trained in epidemiology and a physician with training in paleopathology-to prepare this paper for his projected book, Burial Practices of the Plateau. Since that volume has not seen print, and with the intention of bringing the information herein to the attention of regional researchers, in early 2004 Sprague asked us if we would be willing to have it published as the first in a special numbered series of articles in the Journal of Northwest Anthropology. We agreed, with the proviso that it be at least moderately updated to reflect developments since the mid-l 990s. The 1995 version of the paper incorporated data from three then-unpublished sources: 1) Chapter 8, Plateau Population History, of Boyd's 1985 University of Washington Ph.D. dissertation, The Introduction of Infectious Diseases Among the Indians of the Pacific Northwest, 1774-1874; 2) Demographic History until 1990, in 1995 still in manuscript, but in 1998 published as a chapter in the Handbook of North American Indians, Vol. 12: Plateau (Boyd 1998); and 3) Plateau Health and Disease During the Protohistoric, Chapter 2 of the still unfinished manuscript, A Disease History of the Plateau Culture Area, which is intended to be a companion volume to and Plateau equivalent of The Coming of the Spirit of Pestilence: Introduced Infectious Diseases and Population Decline Among Northwest Coast Indians, 177 4- 187 4 (Boyd 1999). The manuscript chapter is quite similar to the present offering, but includes more detailed information drawn (particularly) from the Plateau Indian oral literature.

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