A Further Contribution to the Study of the Mortuary Customs of the North American Indians eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 247 pages of information about A Further Contribution to the Study of the Mortuary Customs of the North American Indians.
the length of the mound.  No charcoal was found among or near the remains, the combustion there having been complete.  The porous and softer portions of the bones were reduced to pulverized bone-black.  Mr. Stevens also examined the furnace.  The mound had probably not been opened after the burning.

This account is doubtless true, but the inferences may be incorrect.

Many more accounts of cremation among different tribes might be given to show how prevalent was the custom, but the above are thought to be sufficiently distinctive to serve as examples.


Allied somewhat to cremation is a peculiar mode of burial which is supposed to have taken place among the Cherokees, or some other tribe of North Carolina, and which is thus described by J.W.  Foster:[56]

Up to 1819 the Cherokee held possession of this region, when, in pursuance of a treaty, they vacated a portion of the lands lying in the valley of the Little Tennesee River.  In 1821 Mr. McDowell commenced farming.  During the first season’s operations the plowshare, in passing over a certain portion of a field, produced a hollow rumbling sound, and in exploring for the cause the first object met with was a shallow layer of charcoal, beneath which was a slab of burnt clay about 7 feet in length and 4 feet broad, which, in the attempt to remove, broke into several fragments.  Nothing beneath this slab was found, but on examining its under side, to his great surprise there was the mould of a naked human figure.  Three of these burned-clay sepulchers were thus raised and examined during the first year of his occupancy, since which time none have been found until recently.  During the past season, (1878) the plow brought up another fragment of one of these moulds, revealing the impress of a plump human arm.

     Col.  C.W.  Jenkes, the superintendent of the Corundum mines,
     which have recently been opened in that vicinity, advises me

“We have Indians all about us, with traditions extending back for 500 years.  In this time they have buried their dead under huge piles of stones.  We have at one point the remains of 600 warriors under one pile, but a grave has just been opened of the following construction:  A pit was dug, into which the corpse was placed, face upward; then over it was moulded a covering of mortar, fitting the form and features.  On this was built a hot fire, which formed an entire shield of pottery for the corpse.  The breaking up of one such tomb gives a perfect cast of the form of the occupant.”
Colonel Jenkes, fully impressed with the value of these archeological discoveries, detailed a man to superintend the exhumation, who proceeded to remove the earth from the mould, which he reached through a layer of charcoal, and then with a trowel excavated beneath it.  The clay was not thoroughly baked, and no impression
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A Further Contribution to the Study of the Mortuary Customs of the North American Indians from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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