Head Flattening

It was an important sign of social status for our Chinook ancestors to have a flattened head. The community today is keenly aware of this tradition, and people speak fondly, and with genuine pride, about their family members who last carried this important badge of distinction.

Lewis and Clark wrote in their journals “the most remarkable trait in their physiognomy is the peculiar flatness and width of forehead which they artificially obtain by compressing the head between two boards while in a state of infancy and from which it never afterwardsperfectly recovers. I have observed the head of many infants, after this singular bandage had been dismissed, or about the age of 10 or eleven months, that were not more than two inches thick about the upper edge of the forehead and reather thiner stil higher. from the top of the head to the extremity of the nose is one straight line. This is done in order to give a greater width to the forehead, which they much admire.”













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