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Burial - Indians had many different ways of burying their dead.  Sometimes each tribe had several forms of burial.  The most common modes were the placing of the dead in pits, graves, or holes in the ground; in stone caskets; in mounds; and under or in cabins, wigwams, houses, lodges, and in caves.

Among the Chippewa, Sioux, Silsika, Mandan, Gro Ventre, Arapaho, and others the dead person was placed on a scaffold or in a tree.  in the Northwest the deceased was put in a canoe and the canoe placed on posts or in the forks of trees.

Indian Burial

Some tribes of the South wrapped the corpse in a cane matting and put it in a reed coffin and buried it in the ground.  others mummified or embalmed the corpse before burial.  Cremation was observed by some Pacific Coast tribes.  The Creek and Seminole buried their dead in a circular pit in a sitting position, and the Mohawk made a large round hole and placed the body in it in a squatting position.

Some tribes of the Great lakes region dug up their dead at certain periods and placed all the bones in a common pit.

The totem pole makers of the Northwest were in the habit of cutting off the heads of their medicine men, placing them in boxes with their magical equipment, and storing the box in a dry cave.

Most tribes placed food and weapons near the burial place and a few even killed slaves and horses, believing the dead would need these things in the next world.

Mourning the dead was customary.  Among a few tribes the name of a dead person was never mentioned.  Others observed the mourning period by cutting off their hair, wailing loudly, throwing away all ornaments and neglecting their persons, or carrying around a bundle representing the deceased.  Cheyenne widows slashed their arms and legs.

Some famous Indian chiefs have had a difficult time resting in their graves.  The bodies of Sitting Bull and Quanah parker have been dug up and reburied in other spots.  Black hawk's remains were disturbed several times, only to be destroyed at last by fire.  Red jacket's body was hidden by a relative for years before it was properly buried.  Comcomly's skull was sent to England and exhibited there for more than a century, and only recently was returned to this country.

Related Information within this Site
[ Black Hawk ][ Comcomly ][ Quanah Parker ][ Red Jacket ][ Sitting Bull ]