Collection: Native Cemeteries and Forms of Burial East of the Mississippi

Iroquois Belief in a Future State After Death

The Iroquois belief in a future state after death was thus related by Morgan : ” The religious system of the Iroquois taught that it was a journey from earth to heaven of many days’ duration. Originally, it was supposed to be a year, and the period of mourning for the departed was fixed at that term. At its expiration, it was customary for the relatives of the deceased to hold a feast; the soul of the departed having reached heaven, and a state of felicity, there was no longer any cause for mourning. The spirit of grief was exchanged

Ossuaries as a Form of Burial Custom

Many ossuaries have been encountered in the western counties of the State of New York, which, however, may be attributed to the influence of the Huron. These great pits often contain vast quantities of skeletal remains, together with numbers of objects of native origin which had been deposited as offerings to the dead, and material obtained from the early traders is sometimes found associated with the later burials. The ossuaries appear to have been rectangular in form, to have occupied rather prominent positions, and to have been carefully prepared. Such a communal burial place was discovered in May, 1909, about

Seneca Ceremony, 1731

Throughout the greater part of the region once occupied by the Five Nations are- discovered their ancient cemeteries, often situated near the sites of their former villages. Some have been examined, and these usually reveal the human remains, now rapidly disappearing, lying in an extended position. Few accounts of the ceremonies which attended the death and burial of these people have been preserved, but one of the most interesting relates to the Seneca, as enacted during the month of June, 1731. True, the two persons who were buried at this Seneca village were not members of the tribe, but, nevertheless,

New England – An Ancient Cemetery

Similar deposits of the insoluble red oxide were associated with burials in an ancient cemetery discovered in 1913 in Warren, Bristol County, Rhode Island. This appears to have been a burying ground of the Wampanoag, within whose lands it was. When the site was destroyed some of the skeletons were exposed, together with a large number of objects of English, Dutch, and French origin, dating from the years between the first contact with the Europeans until the latter part of the seventeenth century. In some burials copper kettles were placed over the heads of the bodies. In such cases the

New England Native American Burial Customs

Three centuries and more have elapsed since the Jesuit, Père Pierre Biard, of Grenoble, prepared an account of the manners and customs of several native tribes of New France, which then included within its bounds the eastern portions of the present State of Maine, and the adjoining provinces. He wrote more particularly of the “three tribes which are on good terms of friendship with us-the Montaguets, the Souriquois, and the Eteminquois.” By these names the early French knew the three tribes now better known as the Montagnais, Micmac, and Malecite, all belonging to the great Algonquian family, and who occupied

Manhattan Island and Southward

An early description of the burial customs of the native inhabitants of New Netherlands, probably based on some ceremonies witnessed on or near Manhattan Island, explains the manner and position in which the remains were deposited in the grave. “Whenever an Indian departs this life, all the residents of the place assemble at the funeral. To a distant stranger, who has not a friend or relative in the place, they pay the like respect. They are equally careful to commit the body to the earth, without neglecting any of the usual ceremonies, according to the standing of the deceased. In

Later Huron, 1675

Having such a clear and vivid description of the early burial customs of the Huron, and the various ceremonies which were enacted by members of that tribe at the time of the death of one of their number, as recorded by Père Le Jeune, in 1636, it is of interest to compare them with the later customs of the same people, after they had become influenced by the teachings of the missionaries. The later account relates to the people of la Mission de Notre-Dame de Lorette, in the year 1675, at which time ” about 300 souls, both Huron and

Huron Ceremony, 1636

In contemplating the origin of the preceding burial it is of interest to read the description of a similar burial, as witnessed and recorded by the Jesuit Pere Le Jeune, in the year 1636. But the father had much to say about the manners and customs of the people among whom he labored-the Huron-whose villages were in the vicinity of Lake Simcoe. He told of the manner in which the family and friends gathered about the sick person while making various necessary plans and preparations in anticipation of the end, and continued: “As soon as the sick man has drawn

Native American Cremation

More than a century before McKenney made his tour of the Lakes and stopped at Detroit, during the month of June, 1826, Charlevoix traversed much of the same on his way to the country of the Illinois, and thence down the Mississippi. At that time the Missisauga, a tribe closely related to the Chippewa, and of which they may be considered a subtribe or division, lived on the shores of Lake St. Clair and the vicinity, and here Charlevoix saw their scaffold burials. Referring to the several tribes with whom he had come in contact, he wrote: “When an Indian

Burials in Caves

The early settlers of eastern Tennessee, eastern Kentucky, and the adjoining region discovered many caves of varying sizes in the broken, mountainous country. In many instances human remains which had been deposited in the caverns, together with the garments and wrappings of tanned skins or woven fibers, were found in a remarkable state of preservation, having been thus preserved by the natural salts which abounded within the caves. Fortunately several very clear and graphic accounts of such discoveries were prepared. One most interesting example, then recently made in a cave in Barren County, Kentucky, was described in a letter written