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.
world similar to those which constitute their happiness in this.

The Blackfeet, Cheyennes, and Navajos also bury in lodges, and the Indians of Bellingham Bay, according to Dr. J.F.  Hammond, U.S.A., place their dead in carved wooden sarcophagi, inclosing these with a rectangular tent of some white material.  Some of the tribes of the northwest coast bury in houses similar to those shown in Figure 12.

Bancroft[61] states that certain of the Indians of Costa Rica, when a death occurred, deposited the body in a small hut constructed of plaited palm reeds.  In this it is preserved for three years, food being supplied, and on each anniversary of the death it is redressed and attended to amid certain ceremonies.  The writer has been recently informed that a similar custom prevailed in Demerara.  No authentic accounts are known of analogous modes of burial among the peoples of the Old World, although quite frequently the dead were interred beneath the floors of their houses, a custom which has been followed by the Mosquito Indians of Central America and one or two of our own tribes.


Under this head may be placed those examples furnished by certain tribes on the northwest coast who used as receptacles for the dead wonderfully carved, large wooden chests, these being supported upon a low platform or resting on the ground.  In shape they resemble a small house with an angular roof, and each one has an opening through which food may be passed to the corpse.

Some of the tribes formerly living in New York used boxes much resembling those spoken of, and the Creeks, Choctaws, and Cherokees did the same.

Capt.  J.H.  Gageby, United States Army, furnishes the following relating to the Creeks in Indian Territory.

* * * are buried on the surface, in a box or a substitute made of branches of trees, covered with small branches, leaves, and earth.  I have seen several of their graves, which after a few weeks had become uncovered and the remains exposed to view.  I saw in one Creek grave (a child’s) a small sum of silver, in another (adult male) some implements of warfare, bow and arrows.  They are all interred with the feet of the corpse to the east.  In the mourning ceremonies of the Creeks the nearer relatives smeared their hair and faces with a composition made of grease and wood ashes, and would remain in that condition for several days, and probably a month.

Josiah Priest[62] gives an account of the burial repositories of a tribe of Pacific coast Indians living on the Talomeco River, Oregon.  The writer believes it to be entirely unreliable and gives it place as an example of credulity shown by many writers and readers.

The corpses of the Caciques were so well embalmed that there was no bad smell, they were deposited in large wooden coffins, well constructed, and placed upon benches two feet from the ground.  In smaller coffins, and in baskets, the Spaniards found the clothes of the deceased men and women, and so many pearls that they distributed them among the officers and soldiers by handsfulls.

In Bancroft[63] may be found the following account of the burial boxes of the Esquimaux.

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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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