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Title: A Further Contribution to the Study of the Mortuary Customs of the North American Indians
Author: Yarrow, H. C. (Harry Crécy), 1840-1929
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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[Transcriber’s Note:

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Much of this article is quoted from other published sources. The
resulting inconsistencies in spelling and punctuation are unchanged.
Typographical errors are listed at the end of the e-text.

The Table of Contents and Index were supplied from the beginning and end
of the Annual Report volume. The List of Illustrations was printed with
the article.

Most footnotes are purely bibliographic. Asterisks after a few footnote
numbers [44*] were added by the transcriber to identify those notes
that give further information.]


  J. W. Powell, Director


  to the


  of the



  Dr. H. C. YARROW,

  Act. Asst. Surg., U.S.A.


  List of illustrations                                   89
  Introductory                                            91
  Classification of burial                                92
  Inhumation                                              93
    Pit burial                                            93
    Grave burial                                         101
    Stone graves or cists                                113
    Burial in mounds                                     115
    Burial beneath or in cabins, wigwams, or houses      122
    Cave burial                                          126
  Embalmment or mummification                            130
  Urn burial                                             137
  Surface burial                                         138
    Cairn burial                                         142
  Cremation                                              143
    Partial cremation                                    150
  Aerial sepulture                                       152
    Lodge burial                                         152
    Box burial                                           155
    Tree and scaffold burial                             158
    Partial scaffold burial and ossuaries                168
    Superterrene and aerial burial in canoes             171
  Aquatic burial                                         180
  Living sepulchers                                      182
  Mourning, sacrifice, feasts, etc.                      183
    Mourning                                             183
    Sacrifice                                            187
    Feasts                                               190
    Superstition regarding burial feasts                 191
    Food                                                 192
    Dances                                               192
    Songs                                                194
    Games                                                195
    Posts                                                197
    Fires                                                198
    Superstitions                                        199


[In the original, Figure 12 was printed before Figure 11 (both full-page
Plates). Figure 45 (_on_ page 196) was printed before the group of
plates 34-44 (_between_ pages 196 and 197).]

   1.--Quiogozon or dead house                            94
   2.--Pima burial                                        98
   3.--Towers of silence                                 105
   4.--Towers of silence                                 106
   5.--Alaskan mummies                                   135
   6.--Burial urns                                       138
   7.--Indian cemetery                                   139
   8.--Grave pen                                         141
   9.--Grave pen                                         141
  10.--Tolkotin cremation                                145
  11.--Eskimo lodge burial                               154
  12.--Burial houses                                     154
  13.--Innuit grave                                      156
  14.--Ingalik grave                                     157
  15.--Dakota scaffold burial                            158
  16.--Offering food to the dead                         159
  17.--Depositing the corpse                             160
  18.--Tree-burial                                       161
  19.--Chippewa scaffold burial                          162
  20.--Scarification at burial                           164
  21.--Australian scaffold burial                        166
  22.--Preparing the dead                                167
  23.--Canoe-burial                                      171
  24.--Twana canoe-burial                                172
  25.--Posts for burial canoes                           173
  26.--Tent on scaffold                                  174
  27.--House burial                                      175
  28.--House burial                                      175
  29.--Canoe-burial                                      178
  30.--Mourning-cradle                                   181
  31.--Launching the burial cradle                       182
  32.--Chippewa widow                                    185
  33.--Ghost gamble                                      195
  34.--Figured plum stones                               196
  35.--Winning throw, No. 1                              196
  36.--Winning throw, No. 2                              196
  37.--Winning throw, No. 3                              196
  38.--Winning throw, No. 4                              196
  39.--Winning throw, No. 5                              196
  40.--Winning throw, No. 6                              196
  41.--Auxiliary throw, No. 1                            196
  42.--Auxiliary throw, No. 2                            196
  43.--Auxiliary throw, No. 3                            196
  44.--Auxiliary throw, No. 4                            196
  45.--Auxiliary throw, No. 5                            196
  46.--Burial posts                                      197
  47.--Grave fire                                        198


  to the


  By H. C. Yarrow.


In view of the fact that the present paper will doubtless reach many
readers who may not, in consequence of the limited edition, have seen
the preliminary volume on mortuary customs, it seems expedient to
reproduce in great part the prefatory remarks which served as an
introduction to that work; for the reasons then urged, for the immediate
study of this subject, still exist, and as time flies on become more and
more important.

The primitive manners and customs of the North American Indians are
rapidly passing away under influences of civilization and other
disturbing elements. In view of this fact, it becomes the duty of all
interested in preserving a record of these customs to labor assiduously,
while there is still time, to collect such data as may be obtainable.
This seems the more important now, as within the last ten years an
almost universal interest has been awakened in ethnologic research, and
the desire for more knowledge in this regard is constantly increasing.
A wise and liberal government, recognizing the need, has ably seconded
the efforts of those engaged in such studies by liberal grants, from
the public funds; nor is encouragement wanted from the hundreds of
scientific societies throughout the civilized globe. The public press,
too--the mouth-piece of the people--is ever on the alert to scatter
broadcast such items of ethnologic information as its corps of
well-trained reporters can secure. To induce further laudable inquiry,
and assist all those who may be willing to engage in the good work, is
the object of this further paper on the mortuary customs of North
American Indians, and it is hoped that many more laborers may through it
be added to the extensive and honorable list of those who have already

It would appear that the subject chosen should awaken great interest,
since the peculiar methods followed by different nations and the great
importance attached to burial ceremonies have formed an almost
invariable part of all works relating to the different peoples of our
globe; in fact, no particular portion of ethnologic research has claimed
more attention. In view of these facts, it might seem almost a work of
supererogation to continue a further examination of the subject, for
nearly every author in writing of our Indian tribes makes some mention
of burial observances; but these notices are scattered far and wide on
the sea of this special literature, and many of the accounts, unless
supported by corroborative evidence, may be considered as entirely
unreliable. To bring together and harmonize conflicting statements, and
arrange collectively what is known of the subject, has been the writer’s
task, and an enormous mass of information has been acquired, the method
of securing which has been already described in the preceding volume and
need not be repeated at this time. It has seemed undesirable at present
to enter into any discussion regarding the causes which may have led to
the adoption of any particular form of burial or coincident ceremonies,
the object of this paper being simply to furnish illustrative examples,
and request further contributions from observers; for, notwithstanding
the large amount of material already at hand, much still remains to be
done, and careful study is needed before any attempt at a thorough
analysis of mortuary customs can be made. It is owing to these facts and
from the nature of the material gathered that the paper must be
considered more as a compilation than an original effort, the writer
having done little else than supply the thread to bind together the
accounts furnished.

It is proper to add that all the material obtained will eventually be
embodied in a quarto volume, forming one of the series of Contributions
to North American Ethnology prepared under the direction of Maj. J. W.
Powell, Director of the Bureau of Ethnology, Smithsonian Institution,
from whom, since the inception of the work, most constant encouragement
and advice has been received, and to whom all American ethnologists owe
a debt of gratitude which can never be repaid.

Having thus called attention to the work, the classification of the
subject may be given, and examples furnished of the burial ceremonies
among different tribes, calling especial attention to similar or almost
analogous customs among the peoples of the Old World.

For our present purpose the following provisional arrangement of burials
may be adopted, although further study may lead to some modifications.


1st. By INHUMATION in pits, graves, or holes in the ground, stone graves
or cists, in mounds, beneath or in cabins, wigwams, houses or lodges, or
in caves.

2d. By EMBALMMENT or a process of mummifying, the remains being
afterwards placed in the earth, caves, mounds, boxes on scaffolds, or in

3d. By DEPOSITION of remains in urns.

4th. By SURFACE BURIAL, the remains being placed in hollow trees or
logs, pens, or simply covered with earth, or bark, or rocks forming

5th. By CREMATION, or partial burning, generally on the surface of the
earth, occasionally beneath, the resulting bones or ashes being placed
in pits in the ground, in boxes placed on scaffolds or trees, in urns,
sometimes scattered.

6th. By AERIAL SEPULTURE, the bodies being left in lodges, houses,
cabins, tents, deposited on scaffolds or trees, in boxes or canoes, the
two latter receptacles supported on scaffolds or posts, or placed on the
ground. Occasionally baskets have been used to contain the remains of
children, these being hung to trees.

7th. By AQUATIC BURIAL, beneath the water, or in canoes, which were
turned adrift.

These heads might, perhaps, be further subdivided, but the above seem
sufficient for all practical needs.

The use of the term _burial_ throughout this paper is to be understood
in its literal significance, the word being derived from the Teutonic
Anglo-Saxon “_birgan_,” to conceal or hide away.

In giving descriptions of different burials and attendant ceremonies, it
has been deemed expedient to introduce entire accounts as furnished, in
order to preserve continuity of narrative, and in no case has the
relator’s language been changed except to correct manifest
unintentional, errors of spelling.



The commonest mode of burial among North American Indians has been that
of interment in the ground, and this has taken place in a number of
different ways; the following will, however, serve as good examples of
the process:

One of the simplest forms is thus noted by Schoolcraft:[1]

  The Mohawks of New York made a large round hole in which the body
  was placed upright or upon its haunches, after which it was covered
  with timber, to support the earth which they lay over, and thereby
  kept the body from being pressed. They then raised the earth in a
  round hill over it. They always dressed the corpse in all its
  finery, and put wampum and other things into the grave with it; and
  the relations suffered not grass nor any wood to grow upon the
  grave, and frequently visited it and made lamentation.

In Jones[2] is the following interesting account from Lawson[3] of the
burial customs of the Indians formerly inhabiting the Carolinas:

  Among the Carolina tribes the burial of the dead was accompanied
  with special ceremonies, the expense and formality attendant upon
  the funeral according with the rank of the deceased. The corpse was
  first placed in a cane hurdle and deposited in an outhouse made for
  the purpose, where it was suffered to remain for a day and a night,
  guarded and mourned over by the nearest relatives with disheveled
  hair. Those who are to officiate at the funeral go into the town,
  and from the backs of the first young men they meet strip such
  blankets and matchcoats as they deem suitable for their purpose. In
  these the dead body is wrapped and then covered with two or three
  mats made of rushes or cane. The coffin is made of woven reeds or
  hollow canes tied fast at both ends. When everything is prepared for
  the interment, the corpse is carried from the house in which it has
  been lying into the orchard of peach-trees and is there deposited in
  another hurdle. Seated upon mats are there congregated the family
  and tribe of the deceased and invited guests. The medicine man, or
  conjurer, having enjoined silence, then pronounces a funeral
  oration, during which he recounts the exploits of the deceased, his
  valor, skill, love of country, property, and influence; alludes to
  the void caused by his death, and counsels those who remain to
  supply his place by following in his footsteps; pictures the
  happiness he will enjoy in the land of spirits to which he has gone,
  and concludes his address by an allusion to the prominent traditions
  of his tribe.

Let us here pause to remind the reader that this custom has prevailed
throughout the civilized world up to the present day--a custom, in the
opinion of many, “more honored in the breach than in the observance.”

  At last [says Mr. Lawson], the Corpse is brought away from that
  Hurdle to the Grave by four young Men, attended by the Relations,
  the King, old Men, and all the Nation. When they come to the
  Sepulcre, which is about six foot deep and eight foot long, having
  at each end (that is, at the Head and Foot) a Light-Wood or
  Pitch-Pine Fork driven close down the sides of the Grave firmly into
  the Ground (these two Forks are to contain a Ridge-Pole, as you
  shall understand presently), before they lay the Corps into the
  Grave, they cover the bottom two or three time over with the Bark of
  Trees; then they let down the Corps (with two Belts that the
  _Indians_ carry their Burdens withal) very leisurely upon the said
  Barks; then they lay over a Pole of the same Wood in the two Forks,
  and having a great many Pieces of Pitch-Pine Logs about two Foot and
  a half long, they stick them in the sides of the Grave down each End
  and near the Top thereof, where the other Ends lie in the
  Ridge-Pole, so that they are declining like the Roof of a House.
  These being very thick plac’d, they cover them [many times double]
  with Bark; then they throw the Earth thereon that came out of the
  Grave and beat it down very firm. By this Means the dead Body lies
  in a Vault, nothing touching him.

After a time the body is taken up, the bones cleaned, and deposited in
an ossuary called the Quiogozon.

Figure 1, after De Bry and Lafitau, represents what the early writers
called the Quiogozon, or charnel-house, and allusions will be found to
it in other parts of this volume. Discrepancies in these accounts impair
greatly their value, for one author says that bones were deposited,
another dried bodies.

It will be seen from the following account, furnished by M. B. Kent,
relating to the Sacs and Foxes (_Oh-sak-ke-uck_) of the Nehema Agency,
Nebraska, that these Indians were careful in burying their dead to
prevent the earth coming in contact with the body, and this custom has
been followed by a number of different tribes, as will be seen by
examples given further on.

    [Illustration: FIG. 1.--Quiogozon or Dead House.]

  _Ancient burial._--The body was buried in a grave made about 2½
  feet deep, and was laid always with the head towards the east, the
  burial taking place as soon after death as possible. The grave was
  prepared by putting bark in the bottom of it before the corpse was
  deposited, a plank covering made and secured some distance above the
  body. The plank was made by splitting trees, until intercourse with
  the whites enabled them to obtain sawed lumber. The corpse was
  always enveloped in a blanket, and prepared as for a long journey in
  life, no coffin being used.

  _Modern burial._--This tribe now usually bury in coffins, rude ones
  constructed by themselves, still depositing the body in the grave
  with the head towards the east.

  _Ancient funeral ceremonies._--Every relative of the deceased had to
  throw some article in the grave, either food, clothing, or other
  material. There was no rule stating the nature of what was to be
  added to the collection, simply a requirement that something must be
  deposited, if it were only a piece of soiled and faded calico. After
  the corpse was lowered into the grave some brave addressed the dead,
  instructing him to walk directly westward, that he would soon
  discover moccasin tracks, which he must follow until he came to a
  great river, which is the river of death; when there he would find a
  pole across the river, which, if he has been honest, upright, and
  good, will be straight, upon which he could readily cross to the
  other side; but if his life had been one of wickedness and sin, the
  pole would be very crooked, and in the attempt to cross upon it he
  would be precipitated into the turbulent stream and lost forever.
  The brave also told him if he crossed the river in safety the Great
  Father would receive him, take out his old brains, give him new
  ones, and then he would have reached the happy hunting grounds,
  always be happy and have eternal life. After burial a feast was
  always called, and a portion of the food of which each and every
  relative was partaking was burned to furnish subsistence to the
  spirit upon its journey.

  _Modern funeral ceremonies._--Provisions are rarely put into the
  grave, and no portion of what is prepared for the feast subsequent
  to burial is burned, although the feast is continued. All the
  address delivered by the brave over the corpse after being deposited
  in the grave is omitted. A prominent feature of all ceremonies,
  either funeral or religious, consists of feasting accompanied with
  music and dancing.

  _Ancient mourning observances._--The female relations allowed their
  hair to hang entirely unrestrained, clothed themselves in the most
  unpresentable attire, the latter of which the males also do. Men
  blacked the whole face for a period of ten days after a death in the
  family, while the women blacked only the cheeks; the faces of the
  children were blacked for three months; they were also required to
  fast for the same length of time, the fasting to consist of eating
  but one meal per day, to be made entirely of hominy, and partaken of
  about sunset. It was believed that this fasting would enable the
  child to dream of coming events and prophesy what was to happen in
  the future. The extent and correctness of prophetic vision depended
  upon how faithfully the ordeal of fasting had been observed.

  _Modern mourning observances._--Many of those of the past are
  continued, such as wearing the hair unrestrained, wearing uncouth
  apparel, blacking faces, and fasting of children, and they are
  adhered to with as much tenacity as many of the professing
  Christians belonging to the evangelical churches adhere to their
  practices, which constitute mere forms, the intrinsic value of which
  can very reasonably be called in question.

The Creeks and Seminoles of Florida, according to Schoolcraft,[4] made
the graves of their dead as follows:

  When one of the family dies, the relatives bury the corpse about
  four feet deep in a round hole dug directly under the cabin or rock
  wherever he died. The corpse is placed in the hole in a sitting
  posture, with a blanket wrapped about it, and the legs bent under
  and tied together. If a warrior, he is painted, and his pipe,
  ornaments, and warlike appendages are deposited with him. The grave
  is then covered with canes tied to a hoop round the top of the hole,
  then a firm layer of clay, sufficient to support the weight of a
  man. The relations howl loudly and mourn publicly for four days. If
  the deceased has been a man of eminent character, the family
  immediately remove from the house in which he is buried and erect a
  new one, with a belief that where the bones of their dead are
  deposited the place is always attended by goblins and chimeras dire.

Dr. W. C. Boteler, physician to the Otoe Indian Agency, Gage County,
Nebraska, in a personal communication to the writer, furnishes a most
interesting account of the burial ceremonies of this tribe, in which it
may be seen that graves are prepared in a manner similar to those
already mentioned:

  The Otoe and Missouri tribes of Indians are now located in southern
  Gage County, Nebraska, on a reservation of 43,000 acres, unsurpassed
  in beauty of location, natural resources, and adaptability for
  prosperous agriculture. This pastoral people, though in the midst of
  civilization, have departed but little from the rude practice and
  customs of a nomadic life, and here may be seen and studied those
  interesting dramas as vividly and satisfactorily as upon the remote

  During my residence among this people on different occasions, I have
  had the opportunity of witnessing the Indian burials and many quaint
  ceremonies pertaining thereto.

  When it is found that the vital spark is wavering in an Otoe
  subject, the preparation of the burial costume is immediately began.
  The near relatives of the dying Indian surround the humble bedside,
  and by loud lamentations and much weeping manifest a grief which is
  truly commensurate with the intensity of Indian devotion and

  While thus expressing before the near departed their grief at the
  sad separation impending, the Indian women, or friendly braves, lose
  no time in equipping him or her with the most ornate clothes and
  ornaments that are available or in immediate possession. It is thus
  that the departed Otoe is enrobed in death, in articles of his own
  selection and by arrangements of his own taste and dictated by his
  own tongue. It is customary for the dying Indian to dictate, ere his
  departure, the propriety or impropriety of the accustomed
  sacrifices. In some cases there is a double and in others no
  sacrifice at all. The Indian women then prepare to cut away their
  hair; it is accomplished with scissors, cutting close to the scalp
  at the side and behind.

  The preparation of the dead for burial is conducted with great
  solemnity and care. Bead-work, the most ornate, expensive blankets
  and ribbons comprise the funeral shroud. The dead, being thus
  enrobed, is placed in a recumbent posture at the most conspicuous
  part of the lodge and viewed in rotation by the mourning relatives
  previously summoned by a courier, all preserving uniformity in the
  piercing screams which would seem to have been learned by rote.

  An apparent service is then conducted. The aged men of the tribe,
  arranged in a circle, chant a peculiar funeral dirge around one of
  their number, keeping time upon a drum or some rude cooking-utensil.

  At irregular intervals an aged relative will arise and dance
  excitedly around the central person, vociferating, and with wild
  gesture, tomahawk in hand, imprecate the evil spirit, which he
  drives to the land where the sun goes down. The evil spirit being
  thus effectually banished, the mourning gradually subsides, blending
  into succeeding scenes of feasting and refreshment. The burial feast
  is in every respect equal in richness to its accompanying
  ceremonies. All who assemble are supplied with cooked venison, hog,
  buffalo, or beef, regular waiters distributing alike hot cakes
  soaked in grease and coffee or water, as the case may be.

  Frequently during this stage of the ceremony the most aged Indian
  present will sit in the central circle, and in a continuous and
  doleful tone narrate the acts of valor in the life of the departed,
  enjoining fortitude and bravery upon all sitting around as an
  essential qualification for admittance to the land where the Great
  Spirit reigns. When the burial feast is well-nigh completed, it is
  customary for the surviving friends to present the bereaved family
  with useful articles of domestic needs, such as calico in bolt,
  flannel cloth, robes, and not unfrequently ponies or horses. After
  the conclusion of the ceremonies at the lodge, the body is carefully
  placed in a wagon and, with an escort of all friends, relatives, and
  acquaintances, conveyed to the grave previously prepared by some
  near relation or friend. When a wagon is used, the immediate
  relatives occupy it with the corpse, which is propped in a
  semi-sitting posture; before the use of wagons among the Otoes, it
  was necessary to bind the body of the deceased upon a horse and then
  convey him to his last resting place among his friends. In past days
  when buffalo were more available, and a tribal hunt was more
  frequently indulged in, it is said that those dying on the way were
  bound upon horses and thus frequently carried several hundred miles
  for interment at the burial places of their friends.

  At the graveyard of the Indians the ceremony partakes of a double
  nature; upon the one hand it is sanguinary and cruel, and upon the
  other blended with the deepest grief and most heartfelt sorrow.
  Before the interment of the dead the chattels of the deceased are
  unloaded from the wagons or unpacked from the backs of ponies and
  carefully arranged in the vault-like tomb. The bottom, which is
  wider than the top (graves here being dug like an inverted funnel),
  is spread with straw or grass matting, woven generally by the Indian
  women of the tribe or some near neighbor. The sides are then
  carefully hung with handsome shawls or blankets, and trunks, with
  domestic articles, pottery, &c., of less importance, are piled
  around in abundance. The sacrifices are next inaugurated. A pony,
  first designated by the dying Indian, is led aside and strangled by
  men hanging to either end of a rope. Sometimes, but not always,
  a dog is likewise strangled, the heads of both animals being
  subsequently laid upon the Indian’s grave. The body, which is now
  often placed in a plain coffin, is lowered into the grave, and if a
  coffin is used the friends take their parting look at the deceased
  before closing it at the grave. After lowering, a saddle and bridle,
  blankets, dishes, &c., are placed upon it, the mourning ceases, and
  the Indians prepare to close the grave. It should be remembered,
  among the Otoe and Missouri Indians dirt is not filled in upon the
  body, but simply rounded up from the surface upon stout logs that
  are accurately fitted over the opening of the grave. After the
  burying is completed, a distribution of the property of the deceased
  takes place, the near relatives receiving everything, from the
  merest trifle to the tent and homes, leaving the immediate family,
  wife and children or father out-door pensioners.

  Although the same generosity is not observed towards the whites
  assisting in funeral rites, it is universally practiced as regards
  Indians, and poverty’s lot is borne by the survivors with a
  fortitude and resignation which in them amounts to duty, and marks a
  higher grade of intrinsic worth than pervades whites of like
  advantages and conditions. We are told in the Old Testament
  Scriptures, “four days and four nights should the fires burn,” &c.
  In fulfillment of this sacred injunction, we find the midnight vigil
  carefully kept by these Indians four days and four nights at the
  graves of their departed. A small fire is kindled for the purpose
  near the grave at sunset, where the nearest relatives convene and
  maintain a continuous lamentation till the morning dawn. There was
  an ancient tradition that at the expiration of this time the Indian
  arose, and mounting his spirit pony, galloped off to the happy
  hunting-ground beyond.

  Happily, with the advancement of Christianity these superstitions
  have faded, and the living sacrifices are partially continued only
  from a belief that by parting with their most cherished and valuable
  goods they propitiate the Great Spirit for the sins committed during
  the life of the deceased. This, though at first revolting, we find
  was the practice of our own forefathers, offering up as burnt
  offerings the lamb or the ox; hence we cannot censure this people,
  but, from a comparison of conditions, credit them with a more strict
  observance of our Holy Book than pride and seductive fashions permit
  of us.

  From a careful review of the whole of their attendant ceremonies a
  remarkable similarity can be marked. The arrangement of the corpse
  preparatory to interment, the funeral feast, the local service by
  the aged fathers, are all observances that have been noted among
  whites, extending into times that are in the memory of those still

The Pimas of Arizona, actuated by apparently the same motives that led
the more eastern tribes to endeavor to prevent contact of earth with the
corpse, adopted a plan which has been described by Capt. F. E.
Grossman,[5] and the account is corroborated by M. Alphonse Pinart[6]
and Bancroft.[7]

Captain Grossman’s account follows:

  The Pimas tie the bodies of their dead with ropes, passing the
  latter around their neck and under the knees, and then drawing them
  tight until the body is doubled up and forced into a sitting
  position. They dig the graves from four to five feet deep and
  perfectly round (about two feet in diameter), and then hollow out to
  one side of the bottom of this grave a sort of vault large enough to
  contain the body. Here the body is deposited, the grave is filled up
  level with the ground, and poles, trees, or pieces of timber placed
  upon the grave to protect the remains from coyotes.

    [Illustration: FIG. 2.--Pima burial.]

  Burials usually take place at night without much ceremony. The
  mourners chant during the burial, but signs of grief are rare. The
  bodies of their dead are buried if possible, immediately after death
  has taken place and the graves are generally prepared before the
  patients die. Sometimes sick persons (for whom the graves had
  already been dug) recover. In such cases the graves are left open
  until the persons for whom they are intended die. Open graves of
  this kind can be seen in several of their burial grounds. Places of
  burial are selected some distance from the village, and, if
  possible, in a grove of mesquite trees.

  Immediately after the remains have been buried, the house and
  personal effects of the deceased are burned and his horses and
  cattle killed, the meat being cooked as a repast for the mourners.
  The nearest relatives of the deceased as a sign of their sorrow
  remain within their village for weeks, and sometimes months; the men
  cut off about six inches of their long hair, while the women cut
  their hair quite short. * * *

  The custom of destroying all the property of the husband when he
  dies impoverishes the widow and children and prevents increase of
  stock. The women of the tribe, well aware that they will be poor
  should their husbands die, and that then they will have to provide
  for their children by their own exertions, do not care to have many
  children, and infanticide, both before and after birth, prevails to
  a great extent. This is not considered a crime, and old women of the
  tribe practice it. A widow may marry again after a year’s mourning
  for her first husband; but having children no man will take her for
  a wife and thus burden himself with her children. Widows generally
  cultivate a small piece of ground, and friends and relatives (men)
  plow the ground for them.

Fig. 2, drawn from Captain Grossman’s description by my friend Dr. W. J.
Hoffman, will convey a good idea of this mode of burial.

Stephen Powers[8] describes a similar mode of grave preparation among
the Yuki of California:

  The Yuki bury their dead in a sitting posture. They dig a hole six
  feet deep sometimes and at the bottom of it “_coyote_” under, making
  a little recess in which the corpse is deposited.

The Comanches of Indian Territory (_Nem_, _we, or us, people_),
according to Dr. Fordyce Grinnell, of the Wichita Agency, Indian
Territory, go to the opposite extreme, so far as the protection of the
dead from the surrounding earth is concerned. The account as received is
given entire, as much to illustrate this point as others of interest.

  When a Comanche is dying, while the death-rattle may yet be faintly
  heard in the throat, and the natural warmth has not departed from
  the body, the knees are strongly bent upon the chest, and the legs
  flexed upon the thighs. The arms are also flexed upon each side of
  the chest, and the head bent forward upon the knees. A lariat, or
  rope, is now used to firmly bind the limbs and body in this
  position. A blanket is then wrapped around the body, and this again
  tightly corded, so that the appearance when ready for burial is that
  of an almost round and compact body, very unlike the composed pall
  of his Wichita or Caddo brother. The body is then taken and placed
  in a saddle upon a pony, in a sitting posture; a squaw usually
  riding behind, though sometimes one on either side of the horse,
  holds the body in position until the place of burial is reached,
  when the corpse is literally tumbled into the excavation selected
  for the purpose. The deceased is only accompanied by two or three
  squaws, or enough to perform the little labor bestowed upon the
  burial. The body is taken due west of the lodge or village of the
  bereaved, and usually one of the deep washes or heads of cañons in
  which the Comanche country abounds is selected, and the body thrown
  in, without special reference to position. With this are deposited
  the bows and arrows; these, however, are first broken. The saddle is
  also placed in the grave, together with many of the personal
  valuables of the departed. The body is then covered over with sticks
  and earth, and sometimes stones are placed over the whole.

  _Funeral ceremonies._--the best pony owned by the deceased is
  brought to the grave and killed, that the departed may appear well
  mounted and caparisoned among his fellows in the other world.
  Formerly, if the deceased were a chief or man of consequence and had
  large herds of ponies, many were killed, sometimes amounting to 200
  or 300 head in number.

  The Comanches illustrate the importance of providing a good pony for
  the convoy of the deceased to the happy-grounds by the following
  story, which is current among both Comanches and Wichitas:

  “A few years since, an old Comanche died who had no relatives and
  who was quite poor. Some of the tribe concluded that almost any kind
  of a pony would serve to transport him to the next world. They
  therefore killed at his grave an old, ill-conditioned, lop-eared
  horse. But a few weeks after the burial of this friendless one, lo
  and behold he returned, riding this same old worn-out horse, weary
  and hungry. He first appeared at the Wichita camps, where he was
  well known, and asked for something to eat, but his strange
  appearance, with sunken eyes and hollow cheeks, filled with
  consternation all who saw him, and they fled from his presence.
  Finally one bolder than the rest placed a piece of meat on the end
  of a lodge-pole and extended it to him. He soon appeared at his own
  camp, creating, if possible, even more dismay than among the
  Wichitas, and this resulted in both Wichitas and Comanches leaving
  their villages and moving _en masse_ to a place on Rush Creek, not
  far distant from the present site of Fort Sill.

  “When the troubled spirit from the sunsetting world was questioned
  why he thus appeared among the inhabitants of earth, he made reply
  that when he came to the gates of paradise the keepers would on no
  account permit him to enter upon such an ill-conditioned beast as
  that which bore him, and thus in sadness he returned to haunt the
  homes of those whose stinginess and greed permitted him no better
  equipment. Since this no Comanche has been permitted to depart with
  the sun to his chambers in the west without a steed which in
  appearance should do honor alike to the rider and his friends.”

  The body is buried at the sunsetting side of the camp, that the
  spirit may accompany the setting sun to the world beyond. The spirit
  starts on its journey the following night after death has taken
  place; if this occur at night, the journey is not begun until the
  next night.

  _Mourning observances._--All the effects of the deceased, the tents,
  blankets, clothes, treasures, and whatever of value, aside from the
  articles which have been buried with the body, are burned, so that
  the family is left in poverty. This practice has extended even to
  the burning of wagons and harness since some of the civilized habits
  have been adopted. It is believed that these ascend to heaven in the
  smoke, and will thus be of service to the owner in the other world.
  Immediately upon the death of a member of the household, the
  relatives begin a peculiar wailing, and the immediate members of the
  family take off their customary apparel and clothe themselves in
  rags and cut themselves across the arms, breast, and other portions
  of the body, until sometimes a fond wife or mother faints from loss
  of blood. This scarification is usually accomplished with a knife,
  or, as in earlier days, with a flint. Hired mourners are employed at
  times who are in no way related to the family, but who are
  accomplished in the art of crying for the dead. These are invariably
  women. Those nearly related to the departed, cut off the long locks
  from the entire head, while those more distantly related, or special
  friends, cut the hair only from one side of the head. In case of the
  death of a chief, the young warriors also cut the hair, usually from
  the left side of the head.

  After the first few days of continued grief, the mourning is
  conducted more especially at sunrise and sunset, as the Comanches
  venerate the sun; and the mourning at these seasons is kept up, if
  the death occurred in summer, until the leaves fall, or, if in the
  winter, until they reappear.

It is a matter of some interest to note that the preparation of the
corpse and the grave among the Comanches is almost identical with the
burial customs of some of the African tribes, and the baling of the body
with ropes or cords is a wide and common usage of savage peoples. The
hiring of mourners is also a practice which has been very prevalent from
remotest periods of time.


The following interesting account of burial among the Pueblo Indians of
San Geronimo de Taos, New Mexico, furnished by Judge Anthony Joseph,
will show in a manner how civilized customs have become engrafted upon
those of a more barbaric nature. It should be remembered that the Pueblo
people are next to the Cherokees, Choctaws, and others in the Indian
Territory, the most civilized of our tribes.

According to Judge Joseph, these people call themselves _Wee-ka-nahs_.

  These are commonly known to the whites as _Piros_. The manner of
  burial by these Indians, both ancient and modern, as far as I can
  ascertain from information obtained from the most intelligent of the
  tribe, is that the body of the dead is and has been always buried in
  the ground in a horizontal position with the flat bottom of the
  grave. The grave is generally dug out of the ground in the usual and
  ordinary manner, being about 6 feet deep, 7 feet long, and about 2
  feet wide. It is generally finished after receiving its occupant by
  being leveled with the hard ground around it, never leaving, as is
  customary with the whites, a mound to mark the spot. This tribe of
  Pueblo Indians never cremated their dead, as they do not know, even
  by tradition, that it was ever done or attempted. There are no
  utensils or implements placed in the grave, but there are a great
  many Indian ornaments, such as beads of all colors, sea-shells,
  hawk-bells, round looking-glasses, and a profusion of ribbons of all
  imaginable colors; then they paint the body with red vermilion and
  white chalk, giving it a most fantastic as well as ludicrous
  appearance. They also place a variety of food in the grave as a wise
  provision for its long journey to the happy hunting-ground beyond
  the clouds.

  The funeral ceremonies of this tribe are very peculiar. First, after
  death, the body is laid out on a fancy buffalo robe spread out on
  the ground, then they dress the body in the best possible manner in
  their style of dress; if a male, they put on his beaded leggins and
  embroidered _saco_, and his fancy dancing-moccasins, and his large
  brass or shell ear-rings; if a female, they put on her best manta or
  dress, tied around the waist with a silk sash, put on her feet her
  fancy dancing-moccasins; her _rosario_ around her neck, her brass or
  shell ear-rings in her ears, and with her tressed black hair tied up
  with red tape or ribbon, this completes her wardrobe for her long
  and happy chase. When they get through dressing the body, they place
  about a dozen lighted candles around it, and keep them burning
  continually until the body is buried. As soon as the candles are
  lighted, the _veloris_, or wake, commences; the body lies in state
  for about twenty-four hours, and in that time all the friends,
  relatives, and neighbors of the deceased or “_difunti_” visit the
  wake, chant, sing, and pray for the soul of the same, and tell one
  another of the good deeds and traits of valor and courage manifested
  by the deceased during his earthly career, and at intervals in their
  praying, singing, &c., some near relative of the deceased will step
  up to the corpse and every person in the room commences to cry
  bitterly and express aloud words of endearment to the deceased and
  of condolence to the family of the same in their untimely

  At about midnight supper is announced, and every person in
  attendance marches out into another room and partakes of a frugal
  Indian meal, generally composed of wild game; Chilé Colorado or
  red-pepper tortillas, and guayaves, with a good supply of mush and
  milk, which completes the festive board of the _veloris_ or wake.
  When the deceased is in good circumstances, the crowd in attendance
  is treated every little while during the wake to alcoholic
  refreshments. This feast and feasting is kept up until the Catholic
  priest arrives to perform the funeral rites.

  When the priest arrives, the corpse is done up or rather baled up in
  a large and well-tanned buffalo robe, and tied around tight with a
  rope or lasso made for the purpose; then six or eight men act as
  pall-bearers, conducting the body to the place of burial, which is
  in front of their church or chapel. The priest conducts the funeral
  ceremonies in the ordinary and usual way of mortuary proceedings
  observed by the Catholic church all over the world. While the
  grave-diggers are filling up the grave, the friends, relatives,
  neighbors, and, in fact, all persons that attend the funeral, give
  vent to their sad feelings by making the whole pueblo howl; after
  the tremendous uproar subsides, they disband and leave the body to
  rest until Gabriel blows his trumpet. When the ceremonies are
  performed with all the pomp of the Catholic church, the priest
  receives a fair compensation for his services; otherwise he
  officiates for the yearly rents that all the Indians of the pueblo
  pay him, which amount in the sum total to about $2,000 per annum.

  These Pueblo Indians are very strict in their mourning observance,
  which last for one year after the demise of the deceased. While in
  mourning for the dead, the mourners do not participate in the
  national festivities of the tribe, which are occasions of state with
  them, but they retire into a state of sublime quietude which makes
  more civilized people sad to observe; but when the term of mourning
  ceases, at the end of the year, they have high mass said for the
  benefit of the soul of the departed; after this they again appear
  upon the arena of their wild sports and continue to be gay and happy
  until the next mortal is called from this terrestrial sphere to the
  happy hunting-ground, which is their pictured celestial paradise.
  The above cited facts, which are the most interesting points
  connected with the burial customs of the Indians of the pueblo San
  Geronimo de Taos, are not in the least exaggerated, but are the
  absolute facts, which I have witnessed myself in many instances for
  a period of more than twenty years that I have resided but a short
  distant from said pueblo, and, being a close observer of their
  peculiar burial customs, am able to give you this true and
  undisguised information relative to your circular on “burial

Another example of the care which is taken to prevent the earth coming
in contact with the corpse may be found in the account of the burial of
the Wichita Indians of Indian Territory, furnished by Dr. Fordyce
Grinnell, whose name has already been mentioned in connection with the
Comanche customs. The Wichitas call themselves _Kitty-ka-tats_, or those
of the tattooed eyelids.

  When a Wichita dies the town-crier goes up and down through the
  village and announces the fact. Preparations are immediately made
  for the burial, and the body is taken without delay to the grave
  prepared for its reception. If the grave is some distance from the
  village, the body is carried thither on the back of a pony, being
  first wrapped in blankets and then laid prone, across the saddle,
  one person walking on either side to support it. The grave is dug
  from three to four feet deep and of sufficient length for the
  extended body. First blankets and buffalo-robes are laid in the
  bottom of the grave, then the body, being taken from the horse and
  unwrapped, is dressed in its best apparel and with ornaments is
  placed upon a couch of blankets and robes, with the head towards the
  west and the feet to the east; the valuables belonging to the
  deceased are placed with the body in the grave. With the man are
  deposited his bows and arrows or gun, and with the woman her cooking
  utensils and other implements of her toil. Over the body sticks are
  placed six or eight inches deep and grass over these, so that when
  the earth is filled in, it need not come in contact with the body or
  its trappings. After the grave is filled with earth, a pen of poles
  is built around it, or as is frequently the case, stakes are driven
  so that they cross each other from either side about midway over the
  grave, thus forming a complete protection from the invasion of wild
  animals. After all this is done, the grass or other _debris_ is
  carefully scraped from about the grave for several feet, so that the
  ground is left smooth and clean. It is seldom the case that the
  relatives accompany the remains to the grave, but they more often
  employ others to bury the body for them, usually women. Mourning is
  similar in this tribe, as in others, and it consists in cutting off
  the hair, fasting, &c. Horses are also killed at the grave.

The Caddoes, _Ascena_, or Timber Indians, as they call themselves,
follow nearly the same mode of burial as the Wichitas, but one custom
prevailing is worthy of mention:

  If a Caddo is killed in battle, the body is never buried, but is
  left to be devoured by beasts or birds of prey, and the condition of
  such individuals in the other world is considered to be far better
  than that of persons dying a natural death.

In a work by Bruhier[9] the following remarks, freely translated by the
writer, may be found, which note a custom having great similarity to the
exposure of bodies to wild beasts mentioned above:

  The ancient Persians threw out the bodies of their dead on the
  roads, and if they were promptly devoured by wild beasts it was
  esteemed a great honor, a misfortune if not. Sometimes they
  interred, always wrapping the dead in a wax cloth to prevent odor.

M. Pierre Muret,[10] from whose book Bruhier probably obtained his
information, gives at considerable length an account of this peculiar
method of treating the dead among the Persians, as follows:

  It is a matter of astonishment, considering the _Persians_ have ever
  had the renown of being one of the most civilized Nations in the
  world, that notwithstanding they should have used such barbarous
  customs about the Dead as are set down in the Writings of some
  Historians; and the rather because at this day there are still to be
  seen among them those remains of Antiquity, which do fully satisfie
  us, that their Tombs have been very magnificent. And yet
  nevertheless, if we will give credit to _Procopius_ and _Agathias_,
  the _Persians_ were never wont to bury their Dead Bodies, so far
  were they from bestowing any Funeral Honours upon them: But, as
  these Authors tell us, they exposed them stark naked in the open
  fields, which is the greatest shame our Laws do allot to the most
  infamous Criminals, by laying them open to the view of all upon the
  highways: Yea, in their opinion it was a great unhappiness, if
  either Birds or Beasts did not devour their Carcases; and they
  commonly made an estimate of the Felicity of these poor Bodies,
  according as they were sooner or later made a prey of. Concerning
  these, they resolved that they must needs have been very bad indeed,
  since even the beasts themselves would not touch them; which caused
  an extream sorrow to their Relations, they taking it for an ill
  boding to their Family, and an infallible presage of some great
  misfortune hanging over their heads; for they persuaded themselves,
  that the Souls which inhabited those Bodies being dragg’d into Hell,
  would not fail to come and trouble them; and that being always
  accompanied with the Devils, their Tormentors, they would certainly
  give them a great deal of disturbance.

  And on the contrary, when these Corpses were presently devoured,
  their joy was very great, they enlarged themselves in praises of the
  Deceased; every one esteeming them undoubtedly happy, and came to
  congratulate their relations on that account: For as they believed
  assuredly, that they were entered into the _Elysian_ Fields, so they
  were persuaded, that they would procure the same bliss for all those
  of their family.

  They also took a great delight to see Skeletons and Bones scatered
  up and down in the fields, whereas we can scarcely endure to see
  those of Horses and Dogs used so. And these remains of Humane
  Bodies, (the sight whereof gives us so much horror, that we
  presently bury them out of our sight, whenever we find them
  elsewhere than in Charnel-houses or Church-yards) were the occasion
  of their greatest joy; beecause they concluded from thence the
  happiness of those that had been devoured, wishing after their Death
  to meet with the like good luck.

The same author states, and Bruhier corroborates the assertion, that the
Parthians, Medes, Iberians, Caspians, and a few others, had such a
horror and aversion of the corruption and decomposition of the dead, and
of their being eaten by worms, that they threw out the bodies into the
open fields to be devoured by wild beasts, a part of their belief being
that persons so devoured would not be entirely extinct, but enjoy at
least a partial sort of life in their living sepulchers. It is quite
probable that for these and other reasons the Bactrians and Hircanians
trained dogs for this special purpose, called _Canes sepulchrales_,
which received the greatest care and attention, for it was deemed proper
that the souls of the deceased should have strong and lusty frames to
dwell in.

The Buddhists of Bhotan are said to expose the bodies of their dead on
top of high rocks.

According to Tegg, whose work is quoted frequently, in the London Times
of January 28, 1876, Mr. Monier Williams writes from Calcutta regarding
the “Towers of Silence,” so called, of the Parsees, who, it is well
known, are the descendants of the ancient Persians expelled from Persia
by the Mohammedan conquerors, and settled at Surat about 1,100 years
since. This gentleman’s narrative is freely made use of to show how the
custom of the exposure of the dead to birds of prey has continued up to
the present time.

  The Dakhmas, or Parsee towers of silence, are erected in a garden on
  the highest point of Malabar Hill, a beautiful, rising ground on one
  side of Black Bay, noted for the bungalows and compounds of the
  European and wealthier inhabitants of Bombay scattered in every
  direction over its surface.

  The garden is approached by a well-constructed, private road, all
  access to which, except to Parsees, is barred by strong iron gates.

The garden is described as being very beautiful, and he says:

  No English nobleman’s garden could be better kept, and no pen could
  do justice to the glories of its flowering shrubs, cypresses, and
  palms. It seemed the very ideal, not only of a place of sacred
  silence, but of peaceful rest.

The towers are five in number, built of hardest black granite, about 40
feet in diameter and 25 in height, and constructed so solidly as almost
to resist absolutely the ravages of time. The oldest and smallest of the
towers was constructed about 200 years since, when the Parsees first
settled in Bombay, and is used only for a certain family. The next
oldest was erected in 1756, and the three others during the next
century. A sixth tower of square shape stands alone, and is only used
for criminals.

The writer proceeds as follows:

  Though wholly destitute of ornament and even of the simplest
  moldings, the parapet of each tower possesses an extraordinary
  coping, which instantly attracts and fascinates the gaze. It is a
  coping formed not of dead stone, but of living vultures. These
  birds, on the occasion of my visit, had settled themselves side by
  side in perfect order and in a complete circle around the parapets
  of the towers, with their heads pointing inwards, and so lazily did
  they sit there, and so motionless was their whole mien, that except
  for their color, they might have been carved out of the stonework.

    [Illustration: FIG. 3.--Parsee Towers of Silence (interior).]

No one is allowed to enter the towers except the corpse-bearers, nor is
any one permitted within thirty feet of the immediate precincts. A model
was shown Mr. Williams, and from it he drew up this description:

  Imagine a round column or massive cylinder, 12 or 14 feet high and
  at least 40 feet in diameter, built throughout of solid stone except
  in the center, where a well, 5 or 6 feet across, leads down to an
  excavation under the masonry, containing four drains at right angles
  to each other, terminated by holes filled with charcoal. Round the
  upper surface of this solid circular cylinder, and completely hiding
  the interior from view, is a stone parapet, 10 or 12 feet in height.
  This it is which, when viewed from the outside, appears to form one
  piece with the solid stone-work, and being, like it, covered with
  chunam, gives the whole the appearance of a low tower. The upper
  surface of the solid stone column is divided into 72 compartments,
  or open receptacles, radiating like the spokes of a wheel from the
  central well, and arranged in three concentric rings, separated from
  each other by narrow ridges of stone, which are grooved to act as
  channels for conveying all moisture from the receptacles into the
  well and into the lower drains. It should be noted that the number
  “3” is emblematical of Zoroaster’s three precepts, and the number
  “72” of the chapters of his Yasna, a portion of the Zend-Avestá.

  Each circle of open stone coffins is divided from the next by a
  pathway, so that there are three circular pathways, the last
  encircling the central well, and these three pathways are crossed by
  another pathway conducting from the solitary door which admits the
  corpse-bearers from the exterior. In the outermost circle of the
  stone coffins are placed the bodies of males, in the middle those of
  the females, and in the inner and smallest circle nearest the well
  those of children.

  While I was engaged with the secretary in examining the model,
  a sudden stir among the vultures made us raise our heads. At least a
  hundred birds collected round one of the towers began to show
  symptoms of excitement, while others swooped down from neighboring
  trees. The cause of this sudden abandonment of their previous apathy
  soon revealed itself. A funeral was seen to be approaching. However
  distant the house of a deceased person, and whether he be rich or
  poor, high or low in rank, his body is always carried to the towers
  by the official corpse-bearers, called _Nasasalár_, who form a
  distinct class, the mourners walking behind.

  Before they remove the body from the house where the relatives are
  assembled, funeral prayers are recited, and the corpse is exposed to
  the gaze of a dog, regarded by the Parsees as a sacred animal. This
  latter ceremony is called _sagdid_.

  Then the body, swathed in a white sheet, is placed in a curved metal
  trough, open at both ends, and the corpse-bearers, dressed in pure
  white garments, proceed with it towards the towers. They are
  followed by the mourners at a distance of at least 30 feet, in
  pairs, also dressed in white, and each couple joined by holding a
  white handkerchief between them. The particular funeral I witnessed
  was that of a child. When the two corpse-bearers reached the path
  leading by a steep incline to the door of the tower, the mourners,
  about eight in number, turned back and entered one of the
  prayer-houses. “There,” said the secretary, “they repeat certain
  gáthás, and pray that the spirit of the deceased may be safely
  transported, on the fourth day after death, to its final

  The tower selected for the present funeral was one in which other
  members of the same family had before been laid. The two bearers
  speedily unlocked the door, reverently conveyed the body of the
  child into the interior, and, unseen by any one, laid it uncovered
  in one of the open stone receptacles nearest the central well. In
  two minutes they reappeared with the empty bier and white cloth, and
  scarcely had they closed the door when a dozen vultures swooped down
  upon the body and were rapidly followed by others. In five minutes
  more we saw the satiated birds fly back and lazily settle down again
  upon the parapet. They had left nothing behind but a skeleton.
  Meanwhile, the bearers were seen to enter a building shaped like a
  high barrel. There, as the secretary informed me, they changed their
  clothes and washed themselves. Shortly afterwards we saw them come
  out and deposit their cast-off funeral garments in a stone
  receptacle near at hand. Not a thread leaves the garden, lest it
  should carry defilement into the city. Perfectly new garments are
  supplied at each funeral. In a fortnight, or, at most, four weeks,
  the same bearers return, and, with gloved hands and implements
  resembling tongs, place the dry skeleton in the central well. There
  the bones find their last resting-place, and there the dust of whole
  generations of Parsees commingling is left undisturbed for

  The revolting sight of the gorged vultures made me turn my back on
  the towers with ill-concealed abhorrence. I asked the secretary how
  it was possible to become reconciled to such usage. His reply was
  nearly in the following words: “Our prophet Zoroaster, who lived
  6,000 years ago, taught us to regard the elements as symbols of the
  Deity. Earth, fire, water, he said, ought never, under any
  circumstances, to be defiled by contact with putrefying flesh.
  Naked, he said, came we into the world and naked we ought to leave
  it. But the decaying particles of our bodies should be dissipated as
  rapidly as possible and in such a way that neither Mother Earth nor
  the beings she supports should be contaminated in the slightest
  degree. In fact, our prophet was the greatest of health officers,
  and, following his sanitary laws, we build our towers on the tops of
  the hills, above all human habitations. We spare no expense in
  constructing them of the hardest materials, and we expose our
  putrescent bodies in open stone receptacles, resting on fourteen
  feet of solid granite, not necessarily to be consumed by vultures,
  but to be dissipated in the speediest possible manner and without
  the possibility of polluting the earth or contaminating a single
  being dwelling thereon. God, indeed, sends the vultures, and, as a
  matter of fact, these birds do their appointed work much more
  expeditiously than millions of insects would do if we committed our
  bodies to the ground. In a sanitary point of view, nothing can be
  more perfect than our plan. Even the rain-water which washes our
  skeletons is conducted by channels into purifying charcoal. Here in
  these five towers rest the bones of all the Parsees that have lived
  in Bombay for the last two hundred years. We form a united body in
  life and we are united in death.”

It would appear that the reasons given for this peculiar mode of
disposing of the dead by the Parsee secretary are quite at variance with
the ideas advanced by Muret regarding the ancient Persians, and to which
allusion has already been made. It might be supposed that somewhat
similar motives to those governing the Parsees actuated those of the
North American Indians who deposit their dead on scaffolds and trees,
but the theory becomes untenable when it is recollected that great care
is taken to preserve the dead from the ravages of carnivorous birds, the
corpse being carefully enveloped in skins and firmly tied up with ropes
or thongs.

Figures 3 and 4 are representations of the Parsee towers of silence,
drawn by Mr. Holmes, mainly from the description given.

    [Illustration: FIG. 4.--Parsee Towers of Silence.]

George Gibbs[11] gives the following account of burial among the Klamath
and Trinity Indians of the Northwest coast, the information having been
originally furnished him by James G. Swan.

  The graves, which are in the immediate vicinity of their houses,
  exhibit very considerable taste and a laudable care. The dead are
  inclosed in rude coffins formed by placing four boards around the
  body, and covered with earth to some depth; a heavy plank, often
  supported by upright head and foot stones, is laid upon the top, or
  stones are built up into a wall about a foot above the ground, and
  the top flagged with others. The graves of the chiefs are surrounded
  by neat wooden palings, each pale ornamented with a feather from the
  tail of the bald eagle. Baskets are usually staked down by the side,
  according to the wealth or popularity of the individual, and
  sometimes other articles for ornament or use are suspended over
  them. The funeral ceremonies occupy three days, during which the
  soul of the deceased is in danger from _O-mah-á_, or the devil. To
  preserve it from this peril, a fire is kept up at the grave, and the
  friends of the deceased howl around it to scare away the demon.
  Should they not be successful in this the soul is carried down the
  river, subject, however, to redemption by _Péh-ho-wan_ on payment of
  a big knife. After the expiration of three days it is all well with

The question may well be asked, is the big knife a “sop to Cerberus”?

To Dr. Charles E. McChesney, acting assistant surgeon, United States
Army, one of the most conscientious and careful of observers, the writer
is indebted for the following interesting account of the mortuary
customs of the


  A large proportion of these Indians being members of the
  Presbyterian church (the missionaries of which church have labored
  among them for more than forty years past), the dead of their
  families are buried after the customs of that church, and this
  influence is felt to a great extent among those Indians who are not
  strict church members, so that they are dropping one by one the
  traditional customs of their tribe, and but few can now be found who
  bury their dead in accordance with their customs of twenty or more
  years ago. The dead of those Indians who still adhere to their
  modern burial customs are buried in the ways indicated below.

  _Warrior._--After death they paint a warrior red across the mouth,
  or they paint a hand in black color, with the thumb on one side of
  the mouth and the fingers separated on the other cheek, the rest of
  the face being painted red. (This latter is only done as a mark of
  respect to a specially brave man.) Spears, clubs, and the
  medicine-bag of the deceased when alive are buried with the body,
  the medicine-bag being placed on the bare skin over the region of
  the heart. There is not now, nor has there been, among these Indians
  any special preparation of the grave. The body of a warrior is
  generally wrapped in a blanket or piece of cloth (and frequently in
  addition is placed in a box) and buried in the grave prepared for
  the purpose, always, as the majority of these Indians inform me,
  with the head towards the _south_. (I have, however, seen many
  graves in which the head of the occupant had been placed to the
  _east_. It may be that these graves were those of Indians who
  belonged to the church; and a few Indians inform me that the head is
  sometimes placed towards the _west_, according to the occupant’s
  belief when alive as to the direction from which his guiding
  medicine came, and I am personally inclined to give credence to this
  latter as sometimes occurring.) In all burials, when the person has
  died a natural death, or had not been murdered, and whether man,
  woman, or child, the body is placed in the grave with the face _up_.
  In cases, however, when a man or woman has been murdered by one of
  their own tribe, the body was, and is always, placed in the grave
  with the face _down_, head to the _south_, and a piece of fat (bacon
  or pork) placed in the mouth. This piece of fat is placed in the
  mouth, as these Indians say, to prevent the spirit of the murdered
  person driving or scaring the game from that section of country.
  Those Indians who state that their dead are always buried with the
  head towards the south say they do so in order that the spirit of
  the deceased may go to the south, the land from which these Indians
  believe they originally came.

  _Women and children._--Before death the face of the person expected
  to die is often painted in a red color. When this is not done before
  death it is done afterwards; the body being then buried in a grave
  prepared for its reception, and in the manner described for a
  warrior, cooking-utensils taking the place of the warrior’s weapons.
  In cases of boys and girls a kettle of cooked food is sometimes
  placed at the head of the grave after the body is covered. Now, if
  the dead body be that of a boy, all the boys of about his age go up
  and eat of the food, and in cases of girls all the girls do
  likewise. This, however, has never obtained as a custom, but is
  sometimes done in cases of warriors and women also.

  Cremation has never been practiced by these Indians. It is now, and
  always has been, a custom among them to remove a lock of hair from
  the top or scalp lock of a warrior, or from the left side of the
  head of a woman, which is carefully preserved by some near relative
  of the deceased, wrapped in pieces of calico and muslin, and hung in
  the lodge of the deceased and is considered the ghost of the dead
  person. To the bundle is attached a tin cup or other vessel, and in
  this is placed some food for the spirit of the dead person. Whenever
  a stranger happens in at meal time, this food, however, is not
  allowed to go to waste; if not consumed by the stranger to whom it
  is offered, some of the occupants of the lodge eat it. They seem to
  take some pains to please the ghost of the deceased, thinking
  thereby they will have good luck in their family so long as they
  continue to do so. It is a custom with the men when they smoke to
  offer the pipe to the ghost, at the same time asking it to confer
  some favor on them, or aid them in their work or in hunting, &c.

  There is a feast held over this bundle containing the ghost of the
  deceased, given by the friends of the dead man. This feast may be at
  any time, and is not at any particular time, occurring, however,
  generally as often as once a year, unless, at the time of the first
  feast, the friends designate a particular time, such, for instance,
  as when the leaves fall, or when the grass comes again. This bundle
  is never permitted to leave the lodge of the friends of the dead
  person, except to be buried in the grave of one of them. Much of the
  property of the deceased person is buried with the body, a portion
  being placed under the body and a portion over it. Horses are
  sometimes killed on the grave of a warrior, but this custom is
  gradually ceasing, in consequence of the value of their ponies.
  These animals are therefore now generally given away by the person
  before death, or after death disposed of by the near relatives. Many
  years ago it was customary to kill one or more ponies at the grave.
  In cases of more than ordinary wealth for an Indian, much of his
  personal property is now, and has ever been, reserved from burial
  with the body, and forms the basis for a gambling party, which will
  be described hereafter. No food is ever buried in the grave, but
  some is occasionally placed at the head of it; in which case it is
  consumed by the friends of the dead person. Such is the method that
  was in vogue with these Indians twenty years ago, and which is still
  adhered to, with more or less exactness, by the majority of them,
  the exceptions being those who are strict church members and those
  very few families who adhere to their ancient customs.

  Before the year 1860 it was a custom, for as long back as the oldest
  members of these tribes can remember, and with the usual tribal
  traditions handed down from generation to generation, in regard to
  this as well as to other things, for these Indians to bury in a tree
  or on a platform, and in those days an Indian was only buried in the
  ground as a mark of disrespect in consequence of the person having
  been murdered, in which case the body would be buried in the ground,
  _face down_, head toward the south and with a piece of fat in the
  mouth. * * * The platform upon which the body was deposited was
  constructed of four crotched posts firmly set in the ground, and
  connected near the top by cross-pieces, upon which was placed
  boards, when obtainable, and small sticks of wood, sometimes hewn so
  as to give a firm resting-place for the body. This platform had an
  elevation of from six to eight or more feet, and never contained but
  one body, although frequently having sufficient surface to
  accommodate two or three. In burying in the crotch of a tree and on
  platforms, the head of the dead person was always placed towards the
  south; the body was wrapped in blankets or pieces of cloth securely
  tied, and many of the personal effects of the deceased were buried
  with it; as in the case of a warrior, his bows and arrows,
  war-clubs, &c., would be placed alongside of the body, the Indians
  saying he would need such things in the next world.

  I am informed by many of them that it was a habit, before their
  outbreak, for some to carry the body of a near relative whom they
  held in great respect with them on their moves, for a greater or
  lesser time, often as long as two or three years before burial.
  This, however, never obtained generally among them, and some of them
  seem to know nothing about it. It has of late years been entirely
  dropped, except when a person dies away from home, it being then
  customary for the friends to bring the body home for burial.

  _Mourning ceremonies._--The mourning ceremonies before the year 1860
  were as follows: After the death of a warrior the whole camp or
  tribe would be assembled in a circle, and after the widow had cut
  herself on the arms, legs, and body with a piece of flint, and
  removed the hair from her head, she would go around the ring any
  number of times she chose, but each time was considered as an oath
  that she would not marry for a year, so that she could not marry for
  as many years as times she went around the circle. The widow would
  all this time keep up a crying and wailing. Upon the completion of
  this the friends of the deceased would take the body to the platform
  or tree where it was to remain, keeping up all this time their
  wailing and crying. After depositing the body, they would stand
  under it and continue exhibiting their grief, the squaws by hacking
  their arms and legs with flint and cutting off the hair from their
  head. The men would sharpen sticks and run them through the skin of
  their arms and legs, both men and women keeping up their crying
  generally for the remainder of the day, and the near relatives of
  the deceased for several days thereafter. As soon as able, the
  warrior friends of the deceased would go to a near tribe of their
  enemies and kill one or more of them if possible, return with their
  scalps, and exhibit them to the deceased person’s relatives, after
  which their mourning ceased, their friends considering his death as
  properly avenged; this, however, was many years ago, when their
  enemies were within reasonable striking distance, such, for
  instance, as the Chippewas and the Arickarees, Gros Ventres and
  Mandan Indians. In cases of women and children, the squaws would cut
  off their hair, hack their persons with flint, and sharpen sticks
  and run them through the skin of the arms and legs, crying as for a

  It was an occasional occurrence twenty or more years ago for a squaw
  when she lost a favorite child to commit suicide by hanging herself
  with a lariat over the limb of a tree. This could not have prevailed
  to any great extent, however, although the old men recite several
  instances of its occurrence, and a very few examples within recent
  years. Such was their custom before the Minnesota outbreak, since
  which time it has gradually died out, and at the present time these
  ancient customs are adhered to by but a single family, known as the
  seven brothers, who appear to retain all the ancient customs of
  their tribe. At the present time, as a mourning observance, the
  squaws hack themselves on their legs with knives, cut off their
  hair, and cry and wail around the grave of the dead person, and the
  men in addition paint their faces, but no longer torture themselves
  by means of sticks passed through the skin of the arms and legs.
  This cutting and painting is sometimes done before and sometimes
  after the burial of the body. I also observe that many of the women
  of these tribes are adopting so much of the customs of the whites as
  prescribes the wearing of black for certain periods. During the
  period of mourning these Indians never wash their face, or comb
  their hair, or laugh. These customs are observed with varying degree
  of strictness, but not in many instances with that exactness which
  characterized these Indians before the advent of the white man among
  them. There is not now any permanent mutilation of the person
  practiced as a mourning ceremony by them. That mutilation of a
  finger by removing one or more joints, so generally observed among
  the Minnetarree Indians at the Fort Berthold, Dak., Agency, is not
  here seen, although the old men of these tribes inform me that it
  was an ancient custom among their women, on the occasion of the
  burial of a husband, to cut off a portion of a finger and have it
  suspended in the tree above his body. I have, however, yet to see an
  example of this having been done by any of the Indians now living,
  and the custom must have fallen into disuse more than seventy years

  In regard to the period of mourning, I would say that there does not
  now appear to be, and, so far as I can learn, never was, any fixed
  period of mourning, but it would seem that, like some of the whites,
  they mourn when the subject is brought to their minds by some remark
  or other occurrence. It is not unusual at the present time to hear a
  man or woman cry and exclaim, “O, my poor husband!” “O, my poor
  wife!” or “O, my poor child!” as the case may be, and, upon
  inquiring, learn that the event happened several years before.
  I have elsewhere mentioned that in some cases much of the personal
  property of the deceased was and is reserved from burial with the
  body, and forms the basis of a gambling party. I shall conclude my
  remarks upon the burial customs, &c., of these Indians by an account
  of this, which they designate as the “ghost’s gamble.”

The account of the game will be found in another part of this paper.

As illustrative of the preparation of the dead Indian warrior for the
tomb, a translation of Schiller’s beautiful burial song is here given.
It is believed to be by Bulwer, and for it the writer is indebted to the
kindness of Mr. Benjamin Drew, of Washington, D.C.:


  See on his mat, as if of yore,
    How lifelike sits he here;
  With the same aspect that he wore
    When life to him was dear.
  But where the right arm’s strength, and where
    The breath he used to breathe
  To the Great Spirit aloft in air,
    The peace-pipe’s lusty wreath?
  And where the hawk-like eye, alas!
    That wont the deer pursue
  Along the waves of rippling grass,
    Or fields that shone with dew?
  Are these the limber, bounding feet
    That swept the winter snows?
  What startled deer was half so fleet,
    Their speed outstripped the roe’s.
  These hands that once the sturdy bow
    Could supple from its pride,
  How stark and helpless hang they now
    Adown the stiffened side!
  Yet weal to him! at peace he strays
    Where never fall the snows,
  Where o’er the meadow springs the maize
    That mortal never sows;
  Where birds are blithe in every brake,
    Where forests teem with deer,
  Where glide the fish through every lake,
    One chase from year to year!
  With spirits now he feasts above;
    All left us, to revere
  The deeds we cherish with our love,
    The rest we bury here.
  Here bring the last gifts, loud and shrill
    Wail death-dirge of the brave
  What pleased him most in life may still
    Give pleasure in the grave.
  We lay the axe beneath his head
    He swung when strength was strong,
  The bear on which his hunger fed--
    The way from earth is long!
  And here, new-sharpened, place the knife
    Which severed from the clay,
  From which the axe had spoiled the life,
    The conquered scalp away.
  The paints that deck the dead bestow,
    Aye, place them in his hand,
  That red the kingly shade may glow
    Amid the spirit land.

The position in which the body is placed, as mentioned by Dr. McChesney,
face upwards, while of common occurrence among most tribes of Indians,
is not invariable as a rule, for the writer discovered at a cemetery
belonging to an ancient pueblo in the valley of the Chama, near Abiquiu,
N. Mex., a number of bodies, all of which had been buried face downward.
The account originally appeared in Field and Forest, 1877, vol. iii,
No. 1, p. 9.

  On each side of the town were noticed two small arroyas or water
  washed ditches, within 30 feet of the walls, and a careful
  examination of these revealed the objects of our search. At the
  bottom of the arroyas, which have certainly formed subsequent to the
  occupation of the village, we found portions of human remains, and
  following up the walls of the ditch soon had the pleasure of
  discovering several skeletons _in situ_. The first found was in the
  eastern arroya, and the grave in depth was nearly 8 feet below the
  surface of the mesa. The body had been placed in the grave face
  downward, the head pointing to the south. Two feet above the
  skeleton were two shining black earthen vases, containing small bits
  of charcoal, the bones of mammals, birds, and partially consumed
  corn, and above these “_ollas_” the earth to the surface was filled
  with pieces of charcoal. Doubtless the remains found in the vases
  served at a funeral feast prior to the inhumation. We examined very
  carefully this grave, hoping to find some utensils, ornaments, or
  weapons, but none rewarded our search. In all of the graves examined
  the bodies were found in similar positions and under similar
  circumstances in both arroyas, several of the skeletons being those
  of children. No information could be obtained as to the probable age
  of these interments, the present Indians considering them as dating
  from the time when their ancestors with Moctezuma came from the

The Coyotero Apaches, according to Dr. W. J. Hoffman,[12] in disposing
of their dead, seem to be actuated by the desire to spare themselves any
needless trouble, and prepare the defunct and the grave in this manner:

  The Coyoteros, upon the death of a member of the tribe, partially
  wrap up the corpse and deposit it into the cavity left by the
  removal of a small rock or the stump of a tree. After the body has
  been crammed into the smallest possible space the rock or stump is
  again rolled into its former position, when a number of stones are
  placed around the base to keep out the coyotes. The nearest of kin
  usually mourn for the period of one month, during that time giving
  utterance at intervals to the most dismal lamentations, which are
  apparently sincere. During the day this obligation is frequently
  neglected or forgotten, but when the mourner is reminded of his duty
  he renews his howling with evident interest. This custom of mourning
  for the period of thirty days corresponds to that formerly observed
  by the Natchez.

Somewhat similar to this rude mode of sepulture is that described in the
life of Moses Van Campen,[13] which relates to the Indians formerly
inhabiting Pennsylvania:

  Directly after, the Indians proceeded to bury those who had fallen
  in battle, which they did by rolling an old log from its place and
  laying the body in the hollow thus made, and then heaping upon it a
  little earth.

As a somewhat curious, if not exceptional, interment, the following
account, relating to the Indians of New York, is furnished, by Mr.
Franklin B. Hough, who has extracted it from an unpublished journal of
the agents of a French company kept in 1794:


  Saw Indian graves on the plateau of Independence Rock. The Indians
  plant a stake on the right side of the head of the deceased and bury
  them in a bark canoe. Their children come every year to bring
  provisions to the place where their fathers are buried. One of the
  graves had fallen in, and we observed in the soil some sticks for
  stretching skins, the remains of a canoe, &c., and the two straps
  for carrying it, and near the place where the head lay were the
  traces of a fire which they had kindled for the soul of the deceased
  to come and warm itself by and to partake of the food deposited
  near it.

  These were probably the Massasauga Indians, then inhabiting the
  north shore of Lake Ontario, but who were rather intruders here, the
  country being claimed by the Oneidas.

It is not to be denied that the use of canoes for coffins has
occasionally been remarked, for the writer in 1873 removed from the
graves at Santa Barbara, California, an entire skeleton which was
discovered in a redwood canoe, but it is thought that the individual may
have been a noted fisherman, particularly as the implements of his
vocation--nets, fish-spears, &c.--were near him, and this burial was
only an exemplification of the well-rooted belief common to all Indians,
that the spirit in the next world makes use of the same articles as were
employed in this one. It should be added that of the many hundreds of
skeletons uncovered at Santa Barbara the one mentioned presented the
only example of the kind.

Among the Indians of the Mosquito coast, in Central America, canoe
burial in the ground, according to Bancroft, was common, and is thus

  The corpse is wrapped in cloth and placed in one-half of a pitpan
  which has been cut in two. Friends assemble for the funeral and
  drown their grief in _mushla_, the women giving vent to their sorrow
  by dashing themselves on the ground until covered with blood, and
  inflicting other tortures, occasionally even committing suicide. As
  it is supposed that the evil spirit seeks to obtain possession of
  the body, musicians are called in to lull it to sleep while
  preparations are made for its removal. All at once four naked men,
  who have disguised themselves with paint so as not to be recognized
  and punished by _Wulasha_, rush out from a neighboring hut, and,
  seizing a rope attached to the canoe, drag it into the woods,
  followed by the music and the crowd. Here the pitpan is lowered into
  the grave with bow, arrow, spear, paddle, and other implements to
  serve the departed in the land beyond, then the other half of the
  boat is placed over the body. A rude hut is constructed over the
  grave, serving as a receptacle for the choice food, drink, and other
  articles placed there from time to time by relatives.


These are of considerable interest, not only from their somewhat rare
occurrence, except in certain localities, but from the manifest care
taken by the survivors to provide for the dead what they considered a
suitable resting place. In their construction they resemble somewhat, in
the care that is taken to prevent the earth touching the corpse, the
class of graves previously described.

A number of cists have been found in Tennessee, and are thus described
by Moses Fiske:[14]

  There are many burying grounds in West Tennessee with regular
  graves. They dug them 12 or 18 inches deep, placed slabs at the
  bottom ends and sides, forming a kind of stone coffin, and, after
  laying in the body, covered it over with earth.

It may be added that, in 1873, the writer assisted at the opening of a
number of graves of men of the reindeer period, near Solutré, in France,
and they were almost identical in construction with those described by
Mr. Fiske, with the exception that the latter were deeper, this,
however, may be accounted for if it is considered how great a deposition
of earth may have taken place during the many centuries which have
elapsed since the burial. Many of the graves explored by the writer in
1875, at Santa Barbara, resembled somewhat cist graves, the bottom and
sides of the pit being lined with large flat stones, but there were none
directly over the skeletons.

The next account is by Maj. J. W. Powell, the result of his own
observation in Tennessee.

  The burial places, or cemeteries are exceedingly abundant throughout
  the State. Often hundreds of graves may be found on a single
  hillside. The same people sometimes bury in scattered graves and in
  mounds--the mounds being composed of a large number of cist graves.
  The graves are increased by additions from time to time. The
  additions are sometimes placed above and sometimes at the sides of
  the others. In the first burials there is a tendency to a concentric
  system with the feet towards the center, but subsequent burials are
  more irregular, so that the system is finally abandoned before the
  place is desired for cemetery purposes.

  Some other peculiarities are of interest. A larger number of
  interments exhibit the fact that the bodies were placed there before
  the decay of the flesh, and in many instances collections of bones
  are buried. Sometimes these bones are placed in some order about the
  crania, and sometimes in irregular piles, as if the collection of
  bones had been emptied from a sack. With men, pipes, stone hammers,
  knives, arrowheads, &c., were usually found, with women, pottery,
  rude beads, shells, &c., with children, toys of pottery, beads,
  curious pebbles, &c.

  Sometimes, in the subsequent burials, the side slab of a previous
  burial was used as a portion of the second cist. All of the cists
  were covered with slabs.

Dr. Jones has given an exceedingly interesting account of the stone
graves of Tennessee, in his volume published by the Smithsonian
Institution, to which valuable work[15] the reader is referred for a
more detailed account of this mode of burial.

G. K. Gilbert, of the United States Geological Survey, informs the
writer that in 1878 he had a conversation with an old Moquis chief as to
their manner of burial, which is as follows: The body is placed in a
receptacle or cist of stone slabs or wood, in a sitting posture, the
hands near the knees, and clasping a stick (articles are buried with the
dead), and it is supposed that the soul finds its way out of the grave
by climbing up the stick, which is allowed to project above the ground
after the grave is filled in.

The Indians of Illinois, on the Saline River, according to George Escoll
Sellers,[16] inclosed their dead in cists, the description of which is
as follows:

  Above this bluff, where the spur rises at an angle of about 30°, it
  has been terraced and the terrace as well as the crown of the spur
  have been used as a cemetery; portions of the terraces are still
  perfect; all the burials appear to have been made in rude stone
  cists, that vary in size from 13 inches by 3 feet to 2 feet by 4
  feet, and from 18 inches to 2 feet deep. They are made of
  thin-bedded sandstone slabs, generally roughly shaped, but some of
  them have been edged and squared with considerable care,
  particularly the covering slabs. The slope below the terraces was
  thickly strewed with these slabs, washed out as the terraces have
  worn away, and which have since been carried off for door-steps and
  hearth-stones. I have opened many of these cists; they nearly all
  contain fragments of human bones far gone in decay, but I have never
  succeeded in securing a perfect skull; even the clay vessels that
  were interred with the dead have disintegrated, the portions
  remaining being almost as soft and fragile as the bones. Some of the
  cists that I explored were paved with valves of fresh-water shells,
  but most generally with the fragments of the great salt-pans, which
  in every case are so far gone in decay as to have lost the outside
  markings. This seems conclusively to couple the tenants of these
  ancient graves with the makers and users of these salt-pans. The
  great number of graves and the quantity of slabs that have been
  washed out prove either a dense population or a long occupancy, or

W. J. Owsley, of Fort Hall, Idaho, furnishes the writer with a
description of the cist graves of Kentucky, which differ somewhat from
other accounts, inasmuch as the graves appeared to be isolated.

  I remember that when a school-boy in Kentucky, some twenty-five
  years ago, of seeing what was called “Indian graves,” and those that
  I examined were close to small streams of water, and were buried in
  a sitting or squatting posture and inclosed by rough, flat stones,
  and were then buried from 1 to 4 feet from the surface. Those graves
  which I examined, which examination was not very minute, seemed to
  be isolated, no two being found in the same locality. When the
  burials took place I could hardly conjecture, but it must have been,
  from appearances, from fifty to one hundred years. The bones that I
  took out on first appearance seemed tolerably perfect, but on short
  exposure to the atmosphere crumbled, and I was unable to save a
  specimen. No implements or relics were observed in those examined by
  me, but I have heard of others who have found such. In that State,
  Kentucky, there are a number of places where the Indians buried
  their dead and left mounds of earth over the graves, but I have not
  examined them myself. * * *

According to Bancroft,[17] the Dorachos, an isthmian tribe of Central
America, also followed the cist form of burial.

  In Veragua the Dorachos had two kinds of tombs, one for the
  principal men, constructed with flat stones laid together with much
  care, and in which were placed costly jars and urns filled with food
  and wine for the dead. Those for the plebians were merely trenches,
  in which were deposited some gourds of maize and wine, and the place
  filled with stones. In some parts of Panama and Darien only the
  chiefs and lords received funeral rites. Among the common people a
  person feeling his end approaching either went himself or was led to
  the woods by his wife, family, or friends, who, supplying him with
  some cake or ears of corn and a gourd of water, then left him to die
  alone or to be assisted by wild beasts. Others, with more respect
  for their dead, buried them in sepulchers made with niches, where
  they placed maize and wine and renewed the same annually. With some,
  a mother dying while suckling her infant, the living child was
  placed at her breast and buried with her, in order that in her
  future state she might continue to nourish it with her milk.


In view of the fact that the subject of mound-burial is so extensive,
and that in all probability a volume by a member of the Bureau of
Ethnology may shortly be published, it is not deemed advisable to devote
any considerable space to it in this paper, but a few interesting
examples may be noted to serve as indications to future observers.

The first to which attention is directed is interesting as resembling
cist burial combined with deposition in mounds. The communication is
from Prof. F. W. Putnam, curator of the Peabody Museum of Archæology,
Cambridge, made to the Boston Society of Natural History, and is
published in volume XX of its proceedings, October 15, 1878:

  * * * He then stated that it would be of interest to the members, in
  connection with the discovery of dolmens in Japan, as described by
  Professor Morse, to know that within twenty-four hours there had
  been received at the Peabody Museum a small collection of articles
  taken from rude dolmens (or chambered barrows, as they would be
  called in England), recently opened by Mr. E. Curtiss, who is now
  engaged, under his direction, in exploration for the Peabody Museum.

  These chambered mounds are situated in the eastern part of Clay
  County, Missouri, and form a large group on both sides of the
  Missouri River. The chambers are, in the three opened by Mr.
  Curtiss, about 8 feet square, and from 4½ to 5 feet high, each
  chamber having a passage-way several feet in length and 2 in width,
  leading from the southern side and opening on the edge of the mound
  formed by covering the chamber and passage-way with earth. The walls
  of the chambered passages were about 2 feet thick, vertical, and
  well made of stones, which were evenly laid without clay or mortar
  of any kind. The top of one of the chambers had a covering of large,
  flat rocks, but the others seem to have been closed over with wood.
  The chambers were filled with clay which had been burnt, and
  appeared as if it had fallen in from above. The inside walls of the
  chambers also showed signs of fire. Under the burnt clay, in each
  chamber, were found the remains of several human skeletons, all of
  which had been burnt to such an extent as to leave but small
  fragments of the bones, which were mixed with the ashes and
  charcoal. Mr. Curtiss thought that in one chamber he found the
  remains of 5 skeletons and in another 13. With these skeletons there
  were a few flint implements and minute fragments of vessels of clay.

  A large mound near the chambered mounds was also opened, but in this
  no chambers were found. Neither had the bodies been burnt. This
  mound proved remarkably rich in large flint implements, and also
  contained well-made pottery and a peculiar “gorget” of red stone.
  The connection of the people who placed the ashes of their dead in
  the stone chambers with those who buried their dead in the earth
  mounds is, of course, yet to be determined.

It is quite possible, indeed probable, that these chambers were used for
secondary burials, the bodies having first been cremated.

In the volume of the proceedings already quoted, the same investigator
gives an account of other chambered mounds which are, like the
preceding, very interesting, the more so as adults only were inhumed
therein, children having been buried beneath the dwelling-floors:

  Mr. F. W. Putnam occupied the rest of the evening with an account of
  his explorations of the ancient mounds and burial places in the
  Cumberland Valley, Tennessee.

  The excavations had been carried on by himself, assisted by Mr.
  Edwin Curtiss, for over two years, for the benefit of the Peabody
  Museum at Cambridge. During this time many mounds of various kinds
  had been thoroughly explored, and several thousand of the singular
  stone graves of the mound builders of Tennessee had been carefully
  opened. * * * Mr. Putnam’s remarks were illustrated by drawings of
  several hundred objects obtained from the graves and mounds,
  particularly to show the great variety of articles of pottery and
  several large and many unique forms of implements of chipped flint.
  He also exhibited and explained in detail a map of a walled town of
  this old nation. This town was situated on the Lundsley estate, in a
  bend of Spring Creek. The earth embankment, with its accompanying
  ditch, encircled an area of about 12 acres. Within this inclosure
  there was one large mound with a flat top, 15 feet high, 130 feet
  long, and 90 feet wide, which was found not to be a burial mound.
  Another mound near the large one, about 50 feet in diameter, and
  only a few feet high, contained 60 human skeletons, each in a
  carefully-made stone grave, the graves being arranged in two rows,
  forming the four sides of a square, and in three layers. * * * The
  most important discovery he made within the inclosure was that of
  finding the remains of the houses of the people who lived in this
  old town. Of them about 70 were traced out and located on the map by
  Professor Buchanan, of Lebanon, who made the survey for Mr. Putnam.
  Under the floors of hard clay, which was in places much burnt, Mr.
  Putnam found the graves of children. As only the bodies of adults
  had been placed in the one mound devoted to burial, and as nearly
  every site of a house he explored had from one to four graves of
  children under the clay floor, he was convinced that it was a
  regular custom to bury the children in that way. He also found that
  the children had undoubtedly been treated with affection, as in
  their small graves were found many of the best pieces of pottery he
  obtained, and also quantities of shell-beads, several large pearls,
  and many other objects which were probably the playthings of the
  little ones while living.[18]

This cist mode of burial is by no means uncommon in Tennessee, as it is
frequently mentioned by writers on North American archæology.

The examples which follow are specially characteristic, some of them
serving to add strength to the theory that mounds were for the most part
used for secondary burial, although intrusions were doubtless common.

Caleb Atwater[19] gives this description of the


  Near the center of the round fort * * * was a tumulus of earth about
  10 feet in height and several rods in diameter at its base. On its
  eastern side, and extending 6 rods from it, was a semicircular
  pavement composed of pebbles such as are now found in the bed of the
  Scioto River, from whence they appear to have been brought. The
  summit of this tumulus was nearly 30 feet in diameter, and there was
  a raised way to it, leading from the east, like a modern turnpike.
  The summit was level. The outline of the semicircular pavement and
  the walk is still discernible. The earth composing this mound was
  entirely removed several years since. The writer was present at its
  removal and carefully examined the contents. It contained--

  1st. Two human skeletons, lying on what had been the original
  surface of the earth.

  2d. A great quantity of arrow-heads, some of which were so large as
  to induce a belief that they were used as spear-heads.

  3d. The handle either of a small sword or a huge knife, made of an
  elk’s horn. Around the end where the blade had been inserted was a
  ferule of silver, which, though black, was not much injured by time.
  Though the handle showed the hole where the blade had been inserted,
  yet no iron was found, but an oxyde remained of similar shape and

  4th. Charcoal and wood ashes on which these articles lay, which were
  surrounded by several bricks very well burnt. The skeleton appeared
  to have been burned in a large and very hot fire, which had almost
  consumed the bones of the deceased. This skeleton was deposited a
  little to the south of the center of the tumulus; and about 20 feet
  to the north of it was another, with which were--

  5th. A large mirrour about 3 feet in breadth and 1½ inches in
  thickness. This mirrour was of isinglass (_mica membranacea_), and
  on it--

  6th. A plate of iron which had become an oxyde, but before it was
  disturbed by the spade resembled a plate of cast iron. The mirrour
  answered the purpose very well for which it was intended. This
  skeleton had also been burned like the former, and lay on charcoal
  and a considerable quantity of wood ashes. A part of the mirrour is
  in my possession, as well as a piece of brick taken from the spot at
  the time. The knife or sword handle was sent to Mr. Peal’s Museum,
  at Philadelphia.

  To the southwest of this tumulus, about 40 rods from it, is another,
  more than 90 feet in height, which is shown on the plate
  representing these works. It stands on a large hill, which appears
  to be artificial. This must have been the common cemetery, as it
  contains an immense number of human skeletons of all sizes and ages.
  The skeletons are laid horizontally, with their heads generally
  towards the center and the feet towards the outside of the tumulus.
  A considerable part of this work still stands uninjured, except by
  time. In it have been found, besides these skeletons, stone axes and
  knives, and several ornaments, with holes through them, by means of
  which, with a cord passing through these perforations, they could be
  worn by their owners. On the south side of this tumulus, and not far
  from it, was a semicircular fosse, which, when I first saw it, was 6
  feet deep. On opening it was discovered at the bottom a great
  quantity of human bones, which I am inclined to believe were the
  remains of those who had been slain in some great and destructive
  battle: first, because they belonged to persons who had attained
  their full size, whereas in the mound adjoining were found the
  skeletons of persons of all ages; and, secondly, they were here in
  the utmost confusion, as if buried in a hurry. May we not conjecture
  that they belonged to the people who resided in the town, and who
  were victorious in the engagement? Otherwise they would not have
  been thus honorably buried in the common cemetery.

  _Chillicothe mound._--Its perpendicular height was about 15 feet,
  and the diameter of its base about 60 feet. It was composed of sand
  and contained human bones belonging to skeletons which were buried
  in different parts of it. It was not until this pile of earth was
  removed and the original surface exposed to view that a probable
  conjecture of its original design could be formed. About 20 feet
  square of the surface had been leveled and covered with bark. On the
  center of this lay a human skeleton, over which had been spread a
  mat manufactured either from weeds or bark. On the breast lay what
  had been a piece of copper, in the form of a cross, which had now
  become verdigris. On the breast also lay a stone ornament with two
  perforations, one near each end, through which passed a string, by
  means of which it was suspended around the wearer’s neck. On this
  string, which was made of sinews, and very much injured by time,
  were placed a great many beads made of ivory or bone, for I cannot
  certainly say which. * * *

  _Mounds of stone._--Two such mounds have been described already in
  the county of Perry. Others have been found in various parts of the
  country. There is one at least in the vicinity of Licking River, not
  many miles from Newark. There is another on a branch of Hargus’s
  Creek, a few miles to the northeast of Circleville. There were
  several not very far from the town of Chillicothe. If these mounds
  were sometimes used as cemeteries of distinguished persons, they
  were also used as monuments with a view of perpetuating the
  recollection of some great transaction or event. In the former not
  more generally than one or two skeletons are found; in the latter
  none. These mounds are like those of earth, in form of a cone,
  composed of small stones on which no marks of tools were visible. In
  them some of the most interesting articles are found, such as urns,
  ornaments of copper, heads of spears, &c., of the same metal, as
  well as medals of copper and pickaxes of horneblende; * * * works of
  this class, compared with those of earth, are few, and they are none
  of them as large as the mounds at Grave Creek, in the town of
  Circleville, which belong to the first class. I saw one of these
  stone tumuli which had been piled on the surface of the earth on the
  spot where three skeletons had been buried in stone coffins, beneath
  the surface. It was situated on the western edge of the hill on
  which the “walled town” stood, on Paint Creek. The graves appear to
  have been dug to about the depth of ours in the present times. After
  the bottom and sides were lined with thin flat stones, the corpses
  were placed in these graves in an eastern and western direction, and
  large flat stones were laid over the graves; then the earth which
  had been dug out of the graves was thrown over them. A huge pile of
  stones was placed over the whole. It is quite probable, however,
  that this was a work of our present race of Indians. Such graves are
  more common in Kentucky than Ohio. No article, except the skeletons,
  was found in these graves; and the skeletons resembled very much the
  present race of Indians.

The mounds of Sterling County, Illinois, are described by W. C.
Holbrook[20] as follows:

  I recently made an examination of a few of the many Indian mounds
  found on Rock River, about two miles above Sterling, Ill. The first
  one opened was an oval mound about 20 feet long, 12 feet wide, and
  7 feet high. In the interior of this I found a _dolmen_ or
  quadrilateral wall about 10 feet long, 4 feet high, and 4½ feet
  wide. It had been built of lime-rock from a quarry near by, and was
  covered with large flat stones. No mortar or cement had been used.
  The whole structure rested on the surface of the natural soil, the
  interior of which had been scooped out to enlarge the chamber.
  Inside of the _dolmen_ I found the partly decayed remains of eight
  human skeletons, two very large teeth of an unknown animal, two
  fossils, one of which is not found in this place, and a plummet. One
  of the long bones had been splintered; the fragments had united, but
  there remained large morbid growths of bone (exostosis) in several
  places. One of the skulls presented a circular opening about the
  size of a silver dime. This perforation had been made during life,
  for the edges had commenced to cicatrize. I later examined three
  circular mounds, but in them I found no dolmens. The first mound
  contained three adult human skeletons, a few fragments of the
  skeleton of a child, the lower maxillary of which indicated it to be
  about six years old. I also found claws of some carnivorous animal.
  The surface of the soil had been scooped out and the bodies laid in
  the excavation and covered with about a foot of earth; fires had
  then been made upon the grave and the mound afterwards completed.
  The bones had not been charred. No charcoal was found among the
  bones, but occurred in abundance in a stratum about one foot above
  them. Two other mounds, examined at the same time, contain no

  Of two other mounds, opened later, the first was circular, about 4
  feet high, and 15 feet in diameter at the base, and was situated on
  an elevated point of land close to the bank of the river. From the
  top of this mound one might view the country for many miles in
  almost any direction. On its summit was an oval altar 6 feet long
  and 4½ wide. It was composed of flat pieces of limestone, which
  had been burned red, some portions having been almost converted into
  lime. On and about this altar I found abundance of charcoal. At the
  sides of the altar were fragments of human bones, some of which had
  been charred. It was covered by a natural growth of vegetable mold
  and sod, the thickness of which was about 10 inches. Large trees had
  once grown in this vegetable mold, but their stumps were so decayed
  I could not tell with certainty; to what species they belonged.
  Another large mound was opened which contained nothing.

The next account relates to the grave-mounds near Pensacola, Fla., and
was originally published by Dr. George M. Sternberg, surgeon United
States Army:[21]

  Before visiting the mound I was informed that the Indians were
  buried in it in an upright position, each one with a clay pot on his
  head. This idea was based upon some superficial explorations which
  had been made from time to time by curiosity hunters. Their
  excavations had, indeed, brought to light pots containing fragments
  of skulls, but not buried in the position they imagined. Very
  extensive explorations, made at different times by myself, have
  shown that only fragments of skulls and of the long bones of the
  body are to be found in the mound, and that these are commonly
  associated with earthen pots, sometimes whole, but more frequently
  broken fragments only. In some instances portions of the skull were
  placed in a pot, and the long bones were deposited in its immediate
  vicinity. Again, the pots would contain only sand, and fragments of
  bones would be found near them. The most successful “find” I made
  was a whole nest of pots, to the number of half a dozen, all in a
  good state of preservation, and buried with a fragment of skull,
  which I take, from its small size, to have been that of a female.
  Whether this female was thus distinguished above all others buried
  in the mound by the number of pots deposited with her remains
  because of her skill in the manufacture of such ware, or by reason
  of the unusual wealth of her sorrowing husband, must remain a matter
  of conjecture. I found, altogether, fragments of skulls and
  thigh-bones belonging to at least fifty individuals, but in no
  instance did I find anything like a complete skeleton. There were no
  vertebræ, no ribs, no pelvic bones, and none of the small bones of
  the hands and feet. Two or three skulls, nearly perfect, were found,
  but they were so fragile that it was impossible to preserve them. In
  the majority of instances, only fragments of the frontal and
  parietal bones were found, buried in pots or in fragments of pots
  too small to have ever contained a complete skull. The conclusion
  was irresistible that this was not a burial-place for _the bodies_
  of deceased Indians, but that the bones had been gathered from some
  other locality for burial in this mound, or that cremation was
  practiced before burial, and the fragments of bone not consumed by
  fire were gathered and deposited in the mound. That the latter
  supposition is the correct one I deem probable from the fact that in
  digging in the mound evidences of fire are found in numerous places,
  but without any regularity as to depth and position. These evidences
  consist in strata of from one to four inches in thickness, in which
  the sand is of a dark color and has mixed with it numerous small
  fragments of charcoal.

  My theory is that the mound was built by gradual accretion in the
  following manner: That when a death occurred a funeral pyre was
  erected on the mound, upon which the body was placed. That after the
  body was consumed, any fragments of bones remaining were gathered,
  placed in a pot, and buried, and that the ashes and cinders were
  covered by a layer of sand brought from the immediate vicinity for
  that purpose. This view is further supported by the fact that only
  the shafts of the long bones are found, the expanded extremities,
  which would be most easily consumed, having disappeared; also, by
  the fact that no bones of children were found. Their bones being
  smaller, and containing a less proportion of earthy matter, would be
  entirely consumed. * * *

  At the Santa Rosa mound the method of burial was different. Here I
  found the skeletons complete, and obtained nine well-preserved
  skulls. * * * The bodies were not, apparently, deposited upon any
  regular system, and I found no objects of interest associated with
  the remains. It may be that this was due to the fact that the
  skeletons found were those of warriors who had fallen in battle in
  which they had sustained defeat. This view is supported by the fact
  that they were all males, and that two of the skulls bore marks of
  ante-mortem injuries which must have been of a fatal character.

Writing of the Choctaws, Bartram,[22] in alluding to the ossuary, or
bone-house, mentions that so soon as this is filled a general inhumation
takes place, in this manner:

  Then the respective coffins are borne by the nearest relatives of
  the deceased to the place of interment, where they are all piled one
  upon another in the form of a pyramid, and the conical hill of earth
  heaped above.

  The funeral ceremonies are concluded with the solemnization of a
  festival called the feast of the dead.

Florian Gianque, of Cincinnati, Ohio, furnishes an account of a somewhat
curious mound-burial which had taken place in the Miami Valley of Ohio:

  A mound was opened in this locality, some years ago, containing a
  central corpse in a sitting posture, and over thirty skeletons
  buried around it in a circle, also in a sitting posture, but leaning
  against one another, tipped over towards the right, facing inwards.
  I did not see this opened, but have seen the mounds and many
  ornaments, awls, &c., said to have been found near the central body.
  The parties informing me are trustworthy.

As an example of interment, unique, so far as known, and interesting as
being _sui generis_, the following description by Dr. J. Mason
Spainhour, of Lenoir, N.C., of an excavation made by him March 11,
1871, on the farm of R. V. Michaux, esq., near John’s River, in Burke
County, N.C., is given. The author bears the reputation of an observer
of undoubted integrity, whose facts as given may not be doubted:


  In a conversation with Mr. Michaux on Indian curiosities, he
  informed me that there was an Indian mound on his farm which was
  formerly of considerable height, but had gradually been plowed down;
  that several mounds in the neighborhood had been excavated, and
  nothing of interest found in them. I asked permission to examine
  this mound, which was granted, and upon investigation the following
  facts were revealed:

  Upon reaching the place, I sharpened a stick 4 or 5 feet in length
  and ran it down in the earth at several places, and finally struck a
  rock about 18 inches below the surface, which, on digging down, was
  found to be smooth on top, lying horizontally upon solid earth,
  about 18 inches above the bottom of the grave, 18 inches in length,
  and 16 inches in width, and from 2 to 3 inches in thickness, with
  the corners rounded.

  Not finding anything under this rock, I then made an excavation in
  the south of the grave, and soon struck another rock, which, upon
  examination, proved to be in front of the remains of a human
  skeleton in a sitting posture. The bones of the fingers of the right
  hand were resting on this rock, and on the rock near the hand was a
  small stone about 5 inches long, resembling a tomahawk or Indian
  hatchet. Upon a further examination many of the bones were found,
  though in a very decomposed condition, and upon exposure to the air
  soon crumbled to pieces. The heads of the bones, a considerable
  portion of the skull, maxillary bones, teeth, neck bones, and the
  vertebra, were in their proper places, though the weight of the
  earth above them had driven them down, yet the entire frame was so
  perfect that it was an easy matter to trace all the bones; the bones
  of the cranium were slightly inclined toward the east. Around the
  neck were found coarse beads that seemed to be of some hard
  substance and resembled chalk. A small lump of red paint about the
  size of an egg was found near the right side of this skeleton. The
  sutures of the cranium indicated the subject to have been 25 or 28
  years of age, and its top rested about 12 inches below the mark of
  the plow.

  I made a farther excavation toward the west of this grave and found
  another skeleton, similar to the first, in a sitting posture, facing
  the east. A rock was on the right, on which the bones of the right
  hand were resting, and on this rock was a tomahawk which had been
  about 7 inches in length, but was broken into two pieces, and was
  much better finished than the first. Beads were also around the neck
  of this one, but were much smaller and of finer quality than those
  on the neck of the first. The material, however, seems to be the
  same. A much larger amount of paint was found by the side of this
  than the first. The bones indicated a person of large frame, who,
  I think, was about 50 years of age. Everything about this one had
  the appearance of superiority over the first. The top of the skull
  was about 6 inches below the mark of the plane.

  I continued the examination, and, after diligent search, found
  nothing at the north side of the grave; but, on reaching the east,
  found another skeleton, in the same posture as the others, facing
  the west. On the right side of this was a rock on which the bones of
  the right hand were resting, and on the rock was also a tomahawk,
  which had been about 8 inches in length, but was broken into _three_
  pieces, and was composed of much better material, and better
  finished than the others. Beads were also found on the neck of this,
  but much smaller and finer than those of the others. A larger amount
  of paint than both of the others was found near this one. The top of
  the cranium had been moved by the plow. The bones indicated a person
  of 40 years of age.

  There was no appearance of hair discovered; besides, the smaller
  bones were almost entirely decomposed, and would crumble when taken
  from their bed in the earth. These two circumstances, coupled with
  the fact that the farm on which this grave was found was the first
  settled in that part of the country, the date of the first deed made
  from Lord Granville to John Perkins running back about 150 years
  (the land still belonging to the descendants of the same family that
  first occupied it), would prove beyond doubt that it is a very old

  The grave was situated due east and west, in size about 9 by 6 feet,
  the line being distinctly marked by the difference in the color of
  the soil. It was dug in rich, black loam, and filled around the
  bodies with white or yellow sand, which I suppose was carried from
  the river-bank, 200 yards distant. The skeletons approximated the
  walls of the grave, and contiguous to them was a dark-colored earth,
  and so decidedly different was this from all surrounding it, both in
  quality and odor, that the line of the bodies could be readily
  traced. The odor of this decomposed earth, which had been flesh, was
  similar to clotted blood, and would adhere in lumps when compressed
  in the hand.

  This was not the grave of the Indian warriors; in those we find pots
  made of earth or stone, and all the implements of war, for the
  warrior had an idea that after he arose from the dead he would need,
  in the “hunting-grounds beyond,” his bow and arrow, war-hatchet, and

  The facts set forth will doubtless convince every Mason who will
  carefully read the account of this remarkable burial that the
  American Indians were in possession of at least some of the
  mysteries of our order, and that it was evidently the grave of
  Masons, and the three highest officers in a Masonic lodge. The grave
  was situated due east and west; an altar was erected in the center;
  the south, west, and east were occupied--_the north was not_;
  implements of authority were near each body. The difference in the
  quality of the beads, the tomahawks in one, two, and three pieces,
  and the difference in distance that the bodies were placed from the
  surface, indicate beyond doubt that these three persons had been
  buried by Masons, and those, too, that understood what they were

  Will some learned Mason unravel this mystery and inform the Masonic
  world how the Indians obtained so much Masonic information?

  The tomahawks, maxillary bones, some of the teeth, beads, and other
  bones, have been forwarded to the Smithsonian Institution at
  Washington, D.C., to be placed among the archives of that
  institution for exhibition, at which place they may be seen.

Should Dr. Spainhour’s inferences be incorrect, there is still a
remarkable coincidence of circumstances patent to every Mason.

In support of this gentleman’s views, attention is called to the
description of the _Midawan_--a ceremony of initiation for would-be
medicine men--in Schoolcraft’s History of the Indian Tribes of the
United States, 1855, p. 428, relating to the Sioux and Chippewas. In
this account are found certain forms and resemblances which have led
some to believe that the Indians possessed a knowledge of Masonry.


While there is a certain degree of similitude between the above-noted
methods and the one to be mentioned subsequently--_lodge_ burial--they
differ, inasmuch as the latter are examples of surface or aerial burial,
and must consequently fall under another caption. The narratives which
are now to be given afford a clear idea of the former kinds of burial.

Bartram[23] relates the following regarding the Muscogulges of the

  The Muscogulges bury their deceased in the earth; they dig a
  four-foot, square, deep pit under the cabin, or couch which the
  deceased laid on in his house, lining the grave with cypress bark,
  when they place the corpse in a sitting posture, as if it were
  alive, depositing with him his gun, tomahawk, pipe, and such other
  matters as he had the greatest value for in his lifetime. His oldest
  wife, or the queen dowager, has the second choice of his
  possessions, and the remaining effects are divided among his other
  wives and children.

According to Bernard Roman,[24] the “funeral customs of the Chickasaws
did not differ materially from those of the Muscogulges. They interred
the dead as soon as the breath left the body, and beneath the couch in
which the deceased expired.”

The Navajos of New Mexico and Arizona, a tribe living a considerable
distance from the Chickasaws, follow somewhat similar customs, as
related by Dr. John Menard, formerly a physician to their agency:

  The Navajo custom is to leave the body where it dies, closing up the
  house or hogan or covering the body with stones or brush. In case
  the body is removed, it is taken to a cleft in the rocks and thrown
  in, and stones piled over. The person touching or carrying the body
  first takes off all his clothes and afterwards washes his body with
  water before putting them on or mingling with the living. When a
  body is removed from a house or hogan, the hogan is burned down, and
  the place in every case abandoned, as the belief is that the devil
  comes to the place of death and remains where a dead body is. Wild
  animals frequently (indeed, generally) get the bodies, and it is a
  very easy matter to pick up skulls and bones around old camping
  grounds, or where the dead are laid. In case it is not desirable to
  abandon a place, the sick person is left out in some lone spot
  protected by brush, where they are either abandoned to their fate or
  food brought to them until they die. This is done only when all hope
  is gone. I have found bodies thus left so well inclosed with brush
  that wild animals were unable to get at them; and one so left to die
  was revived by a cup of coffee from our house and is still living
  and well.

Lieut. George E. Ford, Third United States Cavalry, in a personal
communication to the writer, corroborates the account given by Dr.
Menard, as follows:

  This tribe, numbering about 8,000 souls, occupy a reservation in the
  extreme northwestern corner of New Mexico and Northeastern Arizona.
  The funeral ceremonies of the Navajos are of the most simple
  character. They ascribe the death of an individual to the direct
  action of _Chinde_, or the devil, and believe that he remains in the
  vicinity of the dead. For this reason, as soon as a member of the
  tribe dies a shallow grave is dug within the hogan or dwelling by
  one of the near male relatives, and into this the corpse is
  unceremoniously tumbled by the relatives, who have previously
  protected themselves from the evil influence by smearing their naked
  bodies with tar from the piñon tree. After the body has thus been
  disposed of, the hogan (composed of logs and branches of trees
  covered with earth) is pulled down over it and the place deserted.
  Should the deceased have no near relatives or was of no importance
  in the tribe, the formality of digging a grave is dispensed with,
  the hogan being simply leveled over the body. This carelessness does
  not appear to arise from want of natural affection for the dead, but
  fear of the evil influence of _Chinde_ upon the surviving relatives
  causes them to avoid doing anything that might gain for them his
  ill-will. A Navajo would freeze sooner than make a fire of the logs
  of a fallen hogan, even though from all appearances it may have been
  years in that condition. There are no mourning observances other
  than smearing the forehead and under the eyes with tar, which is
  allowed to remain until worn off, and then not renewed. The deceased
  is apparently forgotten, as his name is never spoken by the
  survivors for fear of giving offense to _Chinde_.

J. L. Burchard, agent to the Round Valley Indians, of California,
furnishes an account of burial somewhat resembling that of the Navajos:

  When I first came here the Indians would dig a round hole in the
  ground, draw up the knees of the deceased Indian, and wrap the body
  into as small a bulk as possible in blankets, tie them firmly with
  cords, place them in the grave, throw in beads, baskets, clothing,
  everything owned by the deceased, and often donating much extra; all
  gathered around the grave wailing most pitifully, tearing their
  faces with their nails till the blood would run down their cheeks,
  pull out their hair, and such other heathenish conduct. These
  burials were generally made under their thatch houses or very near
  thereto. The house where one died was always torn down, removed,
  rebuilt, or abandoned. The wailing, talks, &c., were in their own
  jargon; none else could understand, and they seemingly knew but
  little of its meaning (if there was any meaning in it); it simply
  seemed to be the promptings of grief, without sufficient
  intelligence to direct any ceremony; each seemed to act out his own

The next account, taken from M. Butel de Dumont,[25] relating to the
Paskagoulas and Billoxis of Louisiana, may be considered as an example
of burial in houses, although the author of the work was pleased to
consider the receptacles as temples.

  Les Paskagoulas et les Billoxis n’enterent point leur Chef,
  lorsqu’il est décédé; mais-ils font sécher son cadavre au feu et à
  la fumée de façon qu’ils en font un vrai squelette. Après l’avoir
  réduit en cet état, ils le portent au Temple (car ils en ont un
  ainsi que les Natchez), et le mettent à la place de son
  prédécesseur, qu’ils tirent de l’endroit qu’il occupoit, pour le
  porter avec les corps de leurs autres Chefs dans le fond du Temple
  où ils sont tous rangés de suite dressés sur leurs pieds comme des
  statues. A l’égard du dernier mort, il est exposé à l’entrée de ce
  Temple sur une espèce d’autel ou de table faite de cannes, et
  couverte d’une natte très-fine travaillée fort proprement en
  quarreaux rouges et jaunes avec la peau de ces mêmes cannes. Le
  cadavre du Chef est exposé au milieu de cette table droit sur ses
  pieds, soutenu par derrière par une longue perche peinte en rouge
  dont le bout passe au dessus de sa tête, et à laquelle il est
  attaché par le milieu du corps avec une liane. D’une main il tient
  un casse-tête ou une petite hache, de l’autre un pipe; et au-dessus
  de sa tête, est attaché au bout de la perche qui le soutient, le
  Calumet le plus fameux de tous ceux qui lui ont été présentés
  pendant sa vie. Du reste cette table n’est guères élevée de terre
  que d’un demi-pied; mais elle a au moins six pieds de large et dix
  de longueur.

  C’est sur cette table qu’on vient tous les jours servir à manger à
  ce Chef mort en mettant devant lui des plats de sagamité, du bled
  grolé ou boucané, &c. C’est-là aussi qu’au commencement de toutes
  les récoltes ses Sujets vont lui offrir les premiers de tous les
  fruits qu’ils peuvent recueillir. Tout ce qui lui est présenté de la
  sorte reste sur cette table; et comme la porte de ce Temple est
  toujours ouverte, qu’il n’y a personne préposé pour y veiller, que
  par conséquent y entre qui veut, et que d’ailleurs il est éloigné du
  Village d’un grand quart de lieue, il arrive que ce sont
  ordinairement des Etrangers, Chasseurs ou Sauvages, qui profitent de
  ces mets et de ces fruits, ou qu’ils sont consommés par les animaux.
  Mais cela est égal à ces sauvages; et moins il en reste lorsqu’ils
  retournent le lendemain, plus ils sont dans la joie, disant que leur
  Chef a bien mangé, et que par conséquent il est content d’eux
  quoiqu’il les ait abandonnés. Pour leur ouvrir les yeux sur
  l’extravagance de cette pratique, on a beau leur représenter ce
  qu’ils ne peuvent s’empêcher de voir eux-mêmes, que ce n’est point
  ce mort qui mange; ils répondent que si ce n’est pas lui, c’est
  toujours lui au moins qui offre à qui il lui plaît ce qui a été mis
  sur la table; qu’après tout c’étoit là la pratique de leur père, de
  leur mère, de leurs parens; qu’ils n’ont pas plus d’esprit qu’eux,
  et qu’ils ne sauroient mieux faire que de suivre leur example.

  C’est aussi devant cette table, que pendant quelques mois la veuve
  du Chef, ses enfans, ses plus proches parens, viennent de tems en
  tems lui rendre visite et lui faire leur harangue, comme s’il étoit
  en état de les entendre. Les uns lui demandent pourquoi il s’est
  laissé mourir avant eux? d’autres lui disent que s’il est mort ce
  n’est point leur faute; que c’est lui même qui s’est tué par telle
  débauche on par tel effort; enfin s’il y a eu quelque défaut dans
  son gouvernement, on prend ce tems-là pour le lui reprocher.
  Cependant ils finissent toujours leur harangue, en lui disant de
  n’être pas fâché contre eux, de bien manger, et qu’ils auront
  toujours bien soin de lui.

Another example of burial in houses may be found in vol. vi of the
publications of the Hakluyt Society, 1849, p. 89, taken from Strachey’s
Virginia. It is given more as a curious narrative of an early writer on
American ethnology than for any intrinsic value it may possess as a
truthful relation of actual events. It relates to the Indians of

  Within the chauncell of the temple, by the Okens, are the
  cenotaphies or the monuments of their kings, whose bodyes, so soon
  as they be dead, they embowell, and, scraping the flesh from off the
  bones, they dry the same upon hurdells into ashes, which they put
  into little potts (like the anncyent urnes): the annathomy of the
  bones they bind together or case up in leather, hanging braceletts,
  or chaines of copper, beads, pearle, or such like, as they used to
  wear about most of their joints and neck, and so repose the body
  upon a little scaffold (as upon a tomb), laying by the dead bodies’
  feet all his riches in severall basketts, his apook, and pipe, and
  any one toy, which in his life he held most deare in his fancy;
  their inwards they stuff with pearle, copper, beads, and such trash,
  sowed in a skynne, which they overlapp againe very carefully in whit
  skynnes one or two, and the bodyes thus dressed lastly they rowle in
  matte, as for wynding sheets, and so lay them orderly one by one, as
  they dye in their turnes, upon an arche standing (as aforesaid) for
  the tomb, and thes are all the ceremonies we yet can learne that
  they give unto their dead. We heare of no sweet oyles or oyntments
  that they use to dresse or chest their dead bodies with; albeit they
  want not of the pretious rozzin running out of the great cedar,
  wherewith in the old time they used to embalme dead bodies, washing
  them in the oyle and licoure thereof. Only to the priests the care
  of these temples and holy interments are committed, and these
  temples are to them as solitary Asseteria colledged or ministers to
  exercise themselves in contemplation, for they are seldome out of
  them, and therefore often lye in them and maynteyne contynuall fier
  in the same, upon a hearth somewhat neere the east end.

  For their ordinary burialls they digg a deepe hole in the earth with
  sharpe stakes, and the corps being lapped in skynns and matts with
  their jewells, they laye uppon sticks in the ground, and soe cover
  them with earth; the buryall ended, the women (being painted all
  their faces with black coale and oyle) do sitt twenty-four howers in
  their howses, mourning and lamenting by turnes, with such yelling
  and howling as may expresse their great passions.

While this description brings the subject under the head before
given--house burial--at the same time it might also afford an example of
embalmment or mummifying.

Figure 1 may be referred to as a probable representation of the temple
or charnel-house described.

The modes of burial described in the foregoing accounts are not to be
considered rare; for among certain tribes in Africa similar practices
prevailed. For instance, the Bari of Central Africa, according to the
Rev. J. G. Wood,[26] bury their dead within the inclosure of the
home-stead, fix a pole in the ground, and fasten to it certain emblems.
The Apingi, according to the same author, permit the corpse to remain in
its dwelling until it falls to pieces. The bones are then collected and
deposited on the ground a short distance from the village. The Latookas
bury within the inclosure of a man’s house, although the bones are
subsequently removed, placed in an earthen jar, and deposited outside
the village. The Kaffirs bury their head-men within the cattle
inclosure, the graves of the common people being made outside, and the
Bechuanas follow the same general plan.

The following description of Damara burial, from the work quoted above
(p. 314), is added as containing an account of certain details which
resemble somewhat those followed by North American Indians. In the
narrative it will be seen that house burial was followed only if
specially desired by the expiring person:

  When a Damara chief dies, he is buried in rather a peculiar fashion.
  As soon as life is extinct--some say even before the last breath is
  drawn--the bystanders break the spine by a blow from a large stone.
  They then unwind the long rope that encircles the loins, and lash
  the body together in a sitting posture, the head being bent over the
  knees. Ox-hides are then tied over it, and it is buried with its
  face to the north, as already described when treating of the
  Bechuanas. Cattle are then slaughtered in honor of the dead chief,
  and over the grave a post is erected, to which the skulls and hair
  are attached as a trophy. The bow, arrows, assagai, and clubs of the
  deceased are hung on the same post. Large stones are pressed into
  the soil above and around the grave, and a large pile of thorns is
  also heaped over it, in order to keep off the hyenas, who would be
  sure to dig up and devour the body before the following day. The
  grave of a Damara chief is represented on page 302. Now and then a
  chief orders that his body shall be left in his own house, in which
  case it is laid on an elevated platform, and a strong fence of
  thorns and stakes built round the hut.

  The funeral ceremonies being completed, the new chief forsakes the
  place and takes the whole of the people under his command. He
  remains at a distance for several years, during which time he wears
  the sign of mourning, i.e., a dark-colored conical cap, and round
  the neck a thong, to the ends of which are hung two small pieces of
  ostrich-shell. When the season of mourning is over, the tribe
  return, headed by the chief, who goes to the grave of his father,
  kneels over it, and whispers that he has returned, together with the
  cattle and wives which his father gave him. He then asks for his
  parent’s aid in all his undertakings, and from that moment takes the
  place which his father filled before him. Cattle are then
  slaughtered, and a feast held to the memory of the dead chief and in
  honor of the living one, and each person present partakes of the
  meat, which is distributed by the chief himself. The deceased chief
  symbolically partakes of the banquet. A couple of twigs cut from the
  tree of the particular eanda to which the deceased belonged are
  considered as his representative, and with this emblem each piece of
  meat is touched before the guests consume it. In like manner, the
  first pail of milk that is drawn is taken to the grave and poured
  over it.


Natural or artificial holes in the ground, caverns, and fissures in
rocks have been used as places of deposit for the dead since the
earliest periods of time, and are used up to the present day by not only
the American Indians, but by peoples noted for their mental elevation
and civilization, our cemeteries furnishing numerous specimens of
artificial or partly artificial caves. As to the motives which have
actuated this mode of burial, a discussion would be out of place at this
time, except as may incidentally relate to our own Indians, who, so far
as can be ascertained, simply adopt caves as ready and convenient
resting places for their deceased relatives and friends.

In almost every State in the Union burial caves have been discovered,
but as there is more or less of identity between them, a few
illustrations will serve the purpose of calling the attention of
observers to the subject.

While in the Territory of Utah, in 1872, the writer discovered a natural
cave not far from the House Range of mountains, the entrance to which
resembled the shaft of a mine. In this the Gosi-Ute Indians had
deposited their dead, surrounded with different articles, until it was
quite filled up; at least it so appeared from the cursory examination
made, limited time preventing a careful exploration. In the fall of the
same year another cave was heard of, from an Indian guide, near the
Nevada border, in the same Territory, and an attempt made to explore it,
which failed for reasons to be subsequently given. This Indian,
a Gosi-Ute, who was questioned regarding the funeral ceremonies of his
tribe, informed the writer that not far from the very spot where the
party were encamped, was a large cave in which he had himself assisted
in placing dead members of his tribe. He described it in detail and drew
a rough diagram of its position and appearance within. He was asked if
an entrance could be effected, and replied that he thought not, as some
years previous his people had stopped up the narrow entrance to prevent
game from seeking a refuge in its vast vaults, for he asserted that it
was so large and extended so far under ground that no man knew its full
extent. In consideration, however, of a very liberal bribe, after many
refusals, he agreed to act as guide. A rough ride of over an hour and
the desired spot was reached. It was found to be almost upon the apex of
a small mountain apparently of volcanic origin, for the hole which was
pointed out appeared to have been the vent of the crater. This entrance
was irregularly circular in form and descended at an angle. As the
Indian had stated, it was completely stopped up with large stones and
roots of sage brash, and it was only after six hours of uninterrupted,
faithful labor that the attempt to explore was abandoned. The guide was
asked if many bodies were therein, and replied “Heaps, heaps,” moving
the hands upwards as far they could be stretched. There is no reason to
doubt the accuracy of the information received, as it was voluntarily

In a communication received from Dr. A. J. McDonald, physician to the
Los Pinos Indian Agency, Colorado, a description is given of crevice or
rock-fissure burial, which follows:

  As soon as death takes place the event is at once announced by the
  medicine man, and without loss of time the squaws are busily engaged
  in preparing the corpse for the grave. This does not take long;
  whatever articles of clothing may have been on the body at the time
  of death are not removed. The dead man’s limbs are straightened out,
  his weapons of war laid by his side, and his robes and blankets
  wrapped securely and snugly around him, and now everything is ready
  for burial. It is the custom to secure if possible, for the purpose
  of wrapping up the corpse, the robes and blankets in which the
  Indian died. At the same time that the body is being fitted for
  internment, the squaws having immediate care of it, together with
  all the other squaws in the neighborhood, keep up a continued chant
  or dirge, the dismal cadence of which may, when the congregation of
  women is large, be heard for quite a long distance. The death song
  is not a mere inarticulate howl of distress; it embraces expressions
  eulogistic in character, but whether or not any particular formula
  of words is adopted on such occasion is a question which I am
  unable, with the materials at my disposal, to determine with any
  degree of certainty.

  The next duty falling to the lot of the squaws is that of placing
  the dead man on a horse and conducting the remains to the spot
  chosen for burial. This is in the cleft of a rock, and, so far as
  can be ascertained, it has always been customary among the Utes to
  select sepulchers of this character. From descriptions given by Mr.
  Harris, who has several times been fortunate enough to discover
  remains, it would appear that no superstitious ideas are held by
  this tribe with respect to the position in which the body is placed,
  the space accommodation of the sepulcher probably regulating this
  matter; and from the same source I learn that it is not usual to
  find the remains of more than one Indian deposited in one grave.
  After the body has been received into the cleft, it is well covered
  with pieces of rock, to protect it against the ravages of wild
  animals. The chant ceases, the squaws disperse, and the burial
  ceremonies are at an end. The men during all this time have not been
  idle, though they have in no way participated in the preparation of
  the body, have not joined the squaws in chanting praises to the
  memory of the dead, and have not even as mere spectators attended
  the funeral, yet they have had their duties to perform. In
  conformity with a long-established custom, all the personal property
  of the deceased is immediately destroyed. His horses and his cattle
  are shot, and his wigwam, furniture, &c., burned. The performance of
  this part of the ceremonies is assigned to the men; a duty quite in
  accord with their taste and inclinations. Occasionally the
  destruction of horses and other properly is of considerable
  magnitude, but usually this is not the case, owing to a practice
  existing with them of distributing their property among their
  children while they are of a very tender age, retaining to
  themselves only what is necessary to meet every-day requirements.

  The widow “goes into mourning” by smearing her face with a substance
  composed of pitch and charcoal. The application is made but once,
  and is allowed to remain on until it wears off. This is the only
  mourning observance of which I have any knowledge.

  The ceremonies observed on the death of a female are the same as
  those in the case of a male, except that no destruction of property
  takes place, and of course no weapons are deposited with the corpse.
  Should a youth die while under the superintendence of white men, the
  Indians will not as a role have anything to do with the interment of
  the body. In a case of the kind which occurred at this agency some
  time ago, the squaws prepared the body in the usual manner; the men
  of the tribe selected a spot for the burial, and the employee at the
  agency, after digging a grave and depositing the corpse therein,
  filled it up according to the fashion of civilized people, and then
  at the request of the Indians rolled large fragments of rocks on
  top. Great anxiety was exhibited by the Indians to have the employes
  perform the service as expeditiously as possible.

Within the past year Ouray, the Ute chief living at the Los Pinos
agency, died and was buried, so far as could be ascertained, in a rock
fissure or cave 7 or 8 miles from the agency.

An interesting cave in Calaveras County, California, which had been used
for burial purposes, is thus described by Prof. J. D. Whitney:[27]

  The following is an account of the cave from which the skulls, now
  in the Smithsonian collection, were taken: It is near the Stanislaus
  River, in Calaveras County, on a nameless creek, about two miles
  from Abbey’s Ferry, on the road to Vallicito, at the house of Mr.
  Robinson. There were two or three persons with me, who had been to
  the place before and knew that the skulls in question were taken
  from it. Their visit was some ten years ago, and since that the
  condition of things in the cave has greatly changed. Owing to some
  alteration in the road, mining operations, or some other cause which
  I could not ascertain, there has accumulated on the formerly clean
  stalagmitic floor of the cave a thickness of some 20 feet of surface
  earth that completely conceals the bottom, and which could not be
  removed without considerable expense. This cave is about 27 feet
  deep at the mouth and 40 to 50 feet at the end, and perhaps 30 feet
  in diameter. It is the general opinion of those who have noticed
  this cave and saw it years ago that it was a burying-place of the
  present Indians. Dr. Jones said he found remains of bows and arrows
  and charcoal with the skulls he obtained, and which were destroyed
  at the time the village of Murphy’s was burned. All the people spoke
  of the skulls as lying on the surface and not as buried in the

The next description of cave burial, by W. H. Dall,[28] is so remarkable
that it seems worthy of admittance to this paper. It relates probably to
the Innuits of Alaska.

  The earliest remains of man found in Alaska up to the time of
  writing I refer to this epoch [Echinus layer of Dall]. There are
  some crania found by us in the lowermost part of the Amaknak cave
  and a cranium obtained at Adakh, near the anchorage in the Bay of
  Islands. These were deposited in a remarkable manner, precisely
  similar to that adopted by most of the continental Innuit, but
  equally different from the modern Aleut fashion. At the Amaknak cave
  we found what at first appeared to be a wooden inclosure, but which
  proved to be made of the very much decayed supra-maxillary bones of
  some large cetacean. These were arranged so as to form a rude
  rectangular inclosure covered over with similar pieces of bone. This
  was somewhat less than 4 feet long, 2 feet wide, and 18 inches deep.
  The bottom was formed of flat pieces of stone. Three such were found
  close together, covered with and filled by an accumulation of fine
  vegetable and organic mold. In each was the remains of a skeleton in
  the last stages of decay. It had evidently been tied up in the
  Innuit fashion to get it into its narrow house, but all the bones,
  with the exception of the skull, were minced to a soft paste, or
  even entirely gone. At Adakh a fancy prompted me to dig into a small
  knoll near the ancient shell-heap, and here we found, in a precisely
  similar sarcophagus, the remains of a skeleton, of which also only
  the cranium retained sufficient consistency to admit of
  preservation. This inclosure, however, was filled with a dense peaty
  mass not reduced to mold, the result of centuries of sphagnous
  growth, which had reached a thickness of nearly 2 feet above the
  remains. When we reflect upon the well-known slowness of this kind
  of growth in these northern regions, attested by numerous Arctic
  travelers, the antiquity of the remains becomes evident.

It seems beyond doubt that in the majority of cases, especially as
regards the caves of the Western States and Territories, the interments
were primary ones, and this is likewise true of many of the caverns of
Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky, for in the three States mentioned many
mummies have been found, but it is also likely that such receptacles
were largely used as places of secondary deposits. The many fragmentary
skeletons and loose bones found seem to strengthen this view.


Following and in connection with cave burial, the subject of mummifying
or embalming the dead may be taken up, as most specimens of the kind
have generally been found in such repositories.

It might be both interesting and instructive to search out and discuss
the causes which have led many nations or tribes to adopt certain
processes with a view to prevent that return to dust which all flesh
must sooner or later experience, but the necessarily limited scope of
this work precludes more than a brief mention of certain theories
advanced by writers of note, and which relate to the ancient Egyptians.
Possibly at the time the Indians of America sought to preserve their
dead from decomposition, some such ideas may have animated them, but on
this point no definite information has been procured. In the final
volume an effort will be made to trace out the origin of mummification
among the Indians and aborigines of this continent.

The Egyptians embalmed, according to Cassien, because during the time of
the annual inundation no interments could take place, but it is more
than likely that this hypothesis is entirely fanciful. It is said by
others they believed that so long as the body was preserved from
corruption the soul remained in it. Herodotus states that it was to
prevent bodies from becoming a prey to animal voracity. “They did not
inter them,” says he, “for fear of their being eaten by worms; nor did
they burn, considering fire as a ferocious beast, devouring everything
which it touched.” According to Diodorus of Sicily, embalmment
originated in filial piety and respect. De Maillet, however, in his
tenth letter on Egypt, attributes it entirely to a religious belief,
insisted upon by the wise men and priests, who taught their disciples
that after a certain number of cycles, of perhaps thirty or forty
thousand years, the entire universe became as it was at birth, and the
souls of the dead returned into the same bodies in which they had lived,
provided that the body remained free from corruption, and that
sacrifices were freely offered as oblations to the manes of the
deceased. Considering the great care taken to preserve the dead, and the
ponderously solid nature of the Egyptian tombs, it is not surprising
that this theory has obtained many believers. M. Gannal believes
embalmment to have been suggested by the affectionate sentiments of our
nature--a desire to preserve as long as possible the mortal remains of
loved ones; but MM. Volney and Pariset think it was intended to obviate,
in hot climates especially, danger from pestilence, being primarily a
cheap and simple process, elegance and luxury coming later; and the
Count de Caylus states the idea of embalmment was derived from the
finding of desiccated bodies which the burning sands of Egypt had
hardened and preserved. Many other suppositions have arisen, but it is
thought the few given above are sufficient to serve as an introduction
to embalmment in North America.

From the statements of the older writers on North American Indians, it
appears that mummifying was resorted to, among certain tribes of
Virginia, the Carolinas, and Florida, especially for people of
distinction, the process in Virginia for the kings, according to
Beverly,[29] being as follows:

  The _Indians_ are religious in preserving the Corpses of their Kings
  and Rulers after Death, which they order in the following manner:
  First, they neatly flay off the Skin as entire as they can, slitting
  it only in the Back; then they pick all the Flesh off from the Bones
  as clean as possible, leaving the Sinews fastned to the Bones, that
  they may preserve the Joints together; then they dry the Bones in
  the Sun, and put them into the Skin again, which in the mean time
  has been kept from drying or shrinking; when the Bones are placed
  right in the Skin, they nicely fill up the Vacuities, with a very
  fine white Sand. After this they sew up the Skin again, and the Body
  looks as if the Flesh had not been removed. They take care to keep
  the Skin from shrinking, by the help of a little Oil or Grease,
  which saves it also from Corruption. The Skin being thus prepar’d,
  they lay it in an apartment for that purpose, upon a large Shelf
  rais’d above the Floor. This Shelf is spread with Mats, for the
  Corpse to rest easy on, and skreened with the same, to keep it from
  the Dust. The Flesh they lay upon Hurdles in the Sun to dry, and
  when it is thoroughly dried, it is sewed up in a Basket, and set at
  the Feet of the Corpse, to which it belongs. In this place also they
  set up a _Quioccos_, or Idol, which they believe will be a Guard to
  the Corpse. Here Night and Day one or the other of the Priests must
  give his Attendance, to take care of the dead Bodies. So great an
  Honour and Veneration have these ignorant and unpolisht People for
  their Princes even after they are dead.

It should be added that, in the writer’s opinion, this account and
others like it are somewhat apocryphal, and it has been copied and
recopied a score of times.

According to Pinkerton,[30] who took the account from Smith’s Virginia,
the Werowance of Virginia preserved their dead as follows:

  In their Temples they have his [their chief God, the Devil’s] image
  euill favouredly carved, and then painted and adorned with chaines
  of copper, and beads, and covered with a skin, in such manner as the
  deformitie may well suit with such a God. By him is commonly the
  sepulchre of their Kings. Their bodies are first bowelled, then
  dried upon hurdles till they be very dry, and so about the most of
  their ioynts and necke they hang bracelets, or chaines of copper,
  pearle, and such like, as they use to wear. Their inwards they
  stuffe with copper beads, hatchets, and such trash. Then lappe they
  them very carefully in white skins, and so rowle them in mats for
  their winding-sheets. And in the Tombe, which is an arch made of
  mats, they lay them orderly. What remaineth of this kind of wealth
  their Kings have, they set at their feet in baskets. These temples
  and bodies are kept by their Priests.

  For their ordinary burials, they dig a deepe hole in the earth with
  sharpe stakes, and the corpse being lapped in skins and mats with
  their Jewels they lay them upon stickes in the ground, and so cover
  them with earth. The buriale ended, the women being painted all
  their faces with blacke cole and oyle doe sit twenty-foure houres in
  the houses mourning and lamenting by turnes with such yelling and
  howling as may expresse their great passions. * * *

  Upon the top of certain red sandy hills in the woods there are three
  great houses filled with images of their Kings and devils and the
  tombes of their predecessors. Those houses are near sixty feet in
  length, built harbourwise after their building. This place they
  count so holey as that but the priests and Kings dare come into
  them; nor the savages dare not go up the river in boates by it, but
  that they solemnly cast some piece of copper, white beads or pocones
  into the river for feare their Okee should be offended and revenged
  of them.

  They think that their Werowances and priests which they also esteeme
  quiyough-cosughs, when they are deade doe goe beyond the mountains
  towards the setting of the sun, and ever remain there in form of
  their Okee, with their bedes paynted rede with oyle and pocones,
  finely trimmed with feathers, and shall have beads, hatchets,
  copper, and tobacco, doing nothing but dance and sing with all their
  predecessors. But the common people they suppose shall not live
  after deth, but rot in their graves like dede dogges.

This is substantially the same account as has been given on a former
page, the verbiage differing slightly, and the remark regarding
truthfulness will apply to it as well as to the other.

Figure 1 may again be referred to as an example of the dead-house

The Congaree or Santee Indians of South Carolina, according to Lawson,
used a process of partial embalmment, as will be seen from the subjoined
extract from Schoolcraft;[31] but instead of laying away the remains in
caves, placed them in boxes supported above the ground by crotched

  The manner of their interment is thus: A mole or pyramid of earth is
  raised, the mould thereof being worked very smooth and even,
  sometimes higher or lower according to the dignity of the person
  whose monument it is. On the top thereof is an umbrella, made
  ridgeways, like the roof of a house. This in supported by nine
  stakes or small posts, the grave being about 6 to 8 feet in length
  and 4 feet in breadth, about which is hung gourds, feathers, and
  other such like trophies, placed there by the dead man’s relations
  in respect to him in the grave. The other parts of the funeral rites
  are thus: As soon as the party is dead they lay the corpse upon a
  piece of bark in the sun, seasoning or embalming it with a small
  root beaten to powder, which looks as red as vermillion; the same is
  mixed with bear’s oil to beautify the hair. After the carcass has
  laid a day or two in the sun they remove it and lay it upon crotches
  cut on purpose for the support thereof from the earth; then they
  anoint it all over with the aforementioned ingredients of the powder
  of this root and bear’s oil. When it is so done they cover it over
  very exactly with the bark or pine of the cypress tree to prevent
  any rain to fall upon it, sweeping the ground very clean all about
  it. Some of his nearest of kin brings all the temporal estate he was
  possessed of at his death, as guns, bows and arrows, beads,
  feathers, match-coat, &c. This relation is the chief mourner, being
  clad in moss, with a stick in his hand, keeping a mournful ditty for
  three or four days, his face being black with the smoke of pitch
  pine mixed with bear’s oil. All the while he tells the dead man’s
  relations and the rest of the spectators who that dead person was,
  and of the great feats performed in his lifetime, all that he speaks
  tending to the praise of the defunct. As soon as the flesh grows
  mellow and will cleave from the bone they get it off and burn it,
  making the bones very clean, then anoint them with the ingredients
  aforesaid, wrapping up the skull (very carefully) in a cloth
  artificially woven of opossum’s hair. The bones they carefully
  preserve in a wooden box, every year oiling and cleansing them. By
  these means they preserve them for many ages, that you may see an
  Indian in possession of the bones of his grandfather or some of his
  relations of a longer antiquity. They have other sorts of tombs, as
  when an Indian is slain in that very place they make a heap of
  stones (or sticks where stones are not to be found); to this
  memorial every Indian that passes by adds a stone to augment the
  heap in respect to the deceased hero. The Indians make a roof of
  light wood or pitch-pine over the graves of the more distinguished,
  covering it with bark and then with earth, leaving the body thus in
  a subterranean vault until the flesh quits the bones. The bones are
  then taken up, cleaned, jointed, clad in white-dressed deerskins,
  and laid away in the _Quiogozon_, which is the royal tomb or
  burial-place of their kings and war-captains, being a more
  magnificent cabin reared at the public expense. This Quiogozon is an
  object of veneration, in which the writer says he has known the
  king, old men, and conjurers to spend several days with their idols
  and dead kings, and into which he could never gain admittance.

Another class of mummies are those which have been found in the
saltpetre and other caves of Kentucky, and it is still a matter of doubt
with archæologists whether any special pains were taken to preserve
these bodies, many believing that the impregnation of the soil with
certain minerals would account for the condition in which the specimens
were found. Charles Wilkins[32] thus describes one:

  * * * An exsiccated body of a female[33] * * * was found at the
  depth of about 10 feet from the surface of the cave bedded in clay
  strongly impregnated with nitre, placed in a sitting posture,
  incased in broad stones standing on their edges, with a flat atone
  covering the whole. It was enveloped in coarse clothes, * * * the
  whole wrapped in deer-skins, the hair of which was shaved off in the
  manner in which the Indians prepare them for market. Enclosed in the
  stone coffin were the working utensils, beads, feathers, and other
  ornaments of dress which belonged to her.

The next description is by Dr. Samuel L. Mitchill.[34*]

  AUG. 24th, 1815.

  DEAR SIR: I offer you some observations on a curious piece of
  American antiquity now in New York. It is a human body: found in one
  of the limestone caverns of Kentucky. It is a perfect desiccation;
  all the fluids are dried up. The skin, bones, and other firm parts
  are in a state of entire preservation. I think it enough to have
  puzzled Bryant and all the archæologists.

  This was found in exploring a calcareous cave in the neighborhood of
  Glasgow for saltpetre.

  These recesses, though under ground, are yet dry enough to attract
  and retain the nitrick acid. It combines with lime and potash; and
  probably the earthy matter of these excavations contains a good
  proportion of calcareous carbonate. Amidst them drying and
  antiseptick ingredients, it may be conceived that putrefaction would
  be stayed, and the solids preserved from decay. The outer envelope
  of the body is a deer-skin, probably dried in the usual way, and
  perhaps softened before its application by rubbing. The next
  covering is a deer’s skin, whose hair had been cut away by a sharp
  instrument resembling a batter’s knife. The remnant of the hair and
  the gashes in the skin nearly resemble a sheared pelt of beaver. The
  next wrapper is of cloth made of twine doubled and twisted. But the
  thread does not appear to have been formed by the wheel, nor the web
  by the loom. The warp and filling seem to have been crossed and
  knotted by an operation like that of the fabricks of the northwest
  coast, and of the Sandwich Islands. Such a botanist as the lamented
  Muhlenbergh could determine the plant which furnished the fibrous

  The innermost tegument is a mantle of cloth, like the preceding, but
  furnished with large brown feathers, arranged and fashioned with
  great art, so as to be capable of guarding the living wearer from
  wet and cold. The plumage is distinct and entire, and the whole
  bears a near similitude to the feathery cloaks now worn by the
  nations of the northwestern coast of America. A Wilson might tell
  from what bird they were derived.

  The body is in a squatting posture, with the right arm reclining
  forward, and its hand encircling the right leg. The left arm hangs
  down, with its hand inclined partly under the seat. The individual,
  who was a male, did not probably exceed the age of fourteen at his
  death. There is near the occiput a deep and extensive fracture of
  the skull, which probably killed him. The skin has sustained little
  injury; it is of a dusky colour, but the natural hue cannot be
  decided with exactness, from its present appearance. The scalp, with
  small exceptions, is covered with sorrel or foxey hair. The teeth
  are white and sound. The hands and feet, in their shrivelled state,
  are slender and delicate. All this is worthy the investigation of
  our acute and perspicacious colleague, Dr. Holmes.

  There is nothing bituminous or aromatic in or about the body, like
  the Egyptian mummies, nor are there bandages around any part. Except
  the several wrappers, the body is totally naked. There is no sign of
  a suture or incision about the belly; whence it seems that the
  viscera were not removed.

  It may now be expected that I should offer some opinion as to the
  antiquity and race of this singular exsiccation.

  First, then, I am satisfied that it does not belong to that class of
  white men of which we are members.

  2dly. Nor do I believe that it ought to be referred to the bands of
  Spanish adventurers, who, between the years 1500 and 1600, rambled
  up the Mississippi, and along its tributary streams. But on this
  head I should like to know the opinion of my learned and sagacious
  friend, Noah Webster.

  3dly. I am equally obliged to reject the opinion that it belonged to
  any of the tribes of aborigines, now or lately inhabiting Kentucky.

  4thly. The mantle of the feathered work, and the mantle of twisted
  threads, so nearly resemble the fabricks of the indigines of Wakash
  and the Pacifick Islands, that I refer this individual to that era
  of time, and that generation of men, which preceded the Indians of
  the Green River, and of the place where these relicks were found.
  This conclusion is strengthened by the consideration that such
  manufactures are not prepared by the actual and resident red men of
  the present day. If the Abbe Clavigero had had this case before him,
  he would have thought of the people who constructed those ancient
  forts and mounds, whose exact history no man living can give. But I
  forbear to enlarge; my intention being merely to manifest my respect
  to the society for having enrolled me among its members, and to
  invite the attention of its Antiquarians to further inquiry on a
  subject of such curiousity.

  With respect, I remain yours,


It would appear, from recent researches on the Northwest coast, that the
natives of that region embalmed their dead with much care, as may be
seen from the work recently published by W. H. Dall,[35] the description
of the mummies being as follows:

  We found the dead disposed of in various ways; first, by interment
  in their compartments of the communal dwelling, as already
  described; second, by being laid on a rude platform of drift-wood or
  stones in some convenient rock shelter. These lay on straw and moss,
  covered by matting, and rarely have either implements, weapons, or
  carvings associated with them. We found only three or four specimens
  in all in these places, of which we examined a great number. This
  was apparently the more ancient form of disposing of the dead, and
  one which more recently was still pursued in the case of poor or
  unpopular individuals.

    [Illustration: FIG. 5.--Alaskan Mummies.]

  Lastly, in comparatively modern times, probably within a few
  centuries, and up to the historic period (1740), another mode was
  adopted for the wealthy, popular, or more distinguished class. The
  bodies were eviscerated, cleansed from fatty matters in running
  water, dried, and usually placed in suitable cases in wrappings of
  fur and fine grass matting. The body was usually doubled up into the
  smallest compass, and the mummy case, especially in the case of
  children, was usually suspended (so as not to touch the ground) in
  some convenient rock shelter. Sometimes, however, the prepared body
  was placed in a lifelike position, dressed and armed. They were
  placed as if engaged in some congenial occupation, such as hunting,
  fishing, sewing, &c. With them were also placed effigies of the
  animals they were pursuing, while the hunter was dressed in his
  wooden armor and provided with an enormous mask all ornamented with
  feathers, and a countless variety of wooden pendants, colored in gay
  patterns. All the carvings were of wood, the weapons even were only
  fac-similes in wood of the original articles. Among the articles
  represented were drums, rattles, dishes, weapons, effigies of men,
  birds, fish, and animals, wooden armor of rods or scales of wood,
  and remarkable masks, so arranged that the wearer when erect could
  only see the ground at his feet. These were worn at their religious
  dances from an idea that a spirit which was supposed to animate a
  temporary idol was fatal to whoever might look upon it while so
  occupied. An extension of the same idea led to the masking of those
  who had gone into the land of spirits.

  The practice of preserving the bodies of those belonging to the
  whaling class--a custom peculiar to the Kadiak Innuit--has
  erroneously been confounded with the one now described. The latter
  included women as well as men, and all those whom the living desired
  particularly to honor. The whalers, however, only preserved the
  bodies of males, and they were not associated with the paraphernalia
  of those I have described. Indeed, the observations I have been able
  to make show the bodies of the whalers to have been preserved with
  stone weapons and actual utensils instead of effigies, and with the
  meanest apparel, and no carvings of consequence. These details, and
  those of many other customs and usages of which the shell heaps bear
  no testimony * * * do not come within my line.

Figure 5, copied from Dall, represents the Alaskan mummies.

Martin Sauer, secretary to Billings’ Expedition,[36] speaks of the
Aleutian Islanders embalming their dead, as follows:

  They pay respect, however, to the memory of the dead, for they
  embalm the bodies of the men with dried moss and grass; bury them in
  their best attire, in a sitting posture, in a strong box, with their
  darts and instruments; and decorate the tomb with various coloured
  mats, embroidery, and paintings. With women, indeed, they use less
  ceremony. A mother will keep a dead child thus embalmed in their hut
  for some months, constantly wiping it dry; and they bury it when it
  begins to smell, or when they get reconciled to parting with it.

Regarding these same people, a writer in the San Francisco Bulletin
gives this account:

  The schooner William Sutton, belonging to the Alaska Commercial
  Company, has arrived from the seal islands of the company with the
  mummified remains of Indians who lived on an island north of
  Ounalaska one hundred and fifty years ago. This contribution to
  science was secured by Captain Henning, an agent of the company who
  has long resided at Ounalaska. In his transactions with the Indians
  he learned that tradition among the Aleuts assigned Kagamale, the
  island in question, as the last resting-place of a great chief,
  known as Karkhayahouchak. Last year the captain was in the
  neighborhood of Kagamale in quest of sea-otter and other furs, and
  he bore up for the island, with the intention of testing the truth
  of the tradition he had heard. He had more difficulty in entering
  the cave than in finding it, his schooner having to beat on and off
  shore for three days. Finally he succeeded in affecting a landing,
  and clambering up the rocks he found himself in the presence of the
  dead chief, his family and relatives.

  The cave smelt strongly of hot sulphurous vapors. With great care
  the mummies were removed, and all the little trinkets and ornaments
  scattered around were also taken away.

  In all there are eleven packages of bodies. Only two or three have
  as yet been opened. The body of the chief is inclosed in a large
  basket-like structure, about four feet in height. Outside the
  wrappings are finely wrought sea-grass matting, exquisitely close in
  texture, and skins. At the bottom is a broad hoop or basket of
  thinly cut wood, and adjoining the center portions are pieces of
  body armor composed of reeds bound together. The body is covered
  with the fine skin of the sea-otter, always a mark of distinction in
  the interments of the Aleuts, and round the whole package are
  stretched the meshes of a fish-net, made of the sinews of the sea
  lion; also those of a bird-net. There are evidently some bulky
  articles inclosed with the chief’s body, and the whole package
  differs very much from the others, which more resemble, in their
  brown-grass matting, consignments of crude sugar from the Sandwich
  Islands than the remains of human beings. The bodies of a pappoose
  and of a very little child, which probably died at birth or soon
  after it, have sea-otter skins around them. One of the feet of the
  latter projects, with a toe-nail visible. The remaining mummies are
  of adults.

  One of the packages has been opened, and it reveals a man’s body in
  tolerable preservation, but with a large portion of the face
  decomposed. This and the other bodies were doubled up at death by
  severing some of the muscles at the hip and knee joints and bending
  the limbs downward horizontally upon the trunk. Perhaps the most
  peculiar package, next to that of the chief, is one which incloses
  in a single matting, with sea-lion skins, the bodies of a man and
  woman. The collection also embraces a couple of skulls, male and
  female, which have still the hair attached to the scalp. The hair
  has changed its color to a brownish red. The relics obtained with
  the bodies include a few wooden vessels scooped out smoothly:
  a piece of dark, greenish, flat stone, harder than the emerald,
  which the Indians use to tan skins; a scalp-lock of jet-black hair;
  a small rude figure, which may have been a very ugly doll or an
  idol; two or three tiny carvings in ivory of the sea-lion, very
  neatly executed; a comb, a necklet made of bird’s claws inserted
  into one another, and several specimens of little bags, and a cap
  plaited out of sea-grass and almost water-tight.

In Cary’s translation of Herodotus (1853, p. 180) the following passage
occurs which purports to describe the manner in which the Macrobrian
Ethiopians preserved their dead. It is added, simply as a matter of
curious interest, nothing more, for no remains so preserved have ever
been discovered.

  After this, they visited last of all their sepulchres, which are
  said to be prepared from crystal in the following manner. When they
  have dried the body, either as the Egyptians do, or in some other
  way, they plaster it all over with gypsum, and paint it, making it
  as much as possible resemble real life; they then put round it a
  hollow column made of crystal, which they dig up in abundance, and
  is easily wrought. The body being in the middle of the column is
  plainly seen, nor does it emit an unpleasant smell, nor is it in any
  way offensive, and it is all visible as the body itself. The nearest
  relations keep the column in their houses for a year, offering to it
  the first-fruits of all, and performing sacrifices; after that time
  they carry it out and place it somewhere near the city.

  NOTE.--The Egyptian mummies could only be seen in front, the back
  being covered by a box or coffin; the Ethiopian bodies could be seen
  all round, as the column of glass was transparent.

With the foregoing examples as illustration, the matter of embalmment
may be for the present dismissed, with the advice to observers that
particular care should be taken, in case mummies are discovered, to
ascertain whether the bodies have been submitted to a regular
preservative process, or owe their protection to ingredients in the soil
of their graves or to desiccation in arid districts.


To close the subject of subterranean burial proper, the following
account of urn-burial in Foster[37] may be added:

  Urn-burial appears to have been practiced to some extent by the
  mound-builders, particularly in some of the Southern States. In the
  mounds on the Wateree River, near Camden, S.C., according to Dr.
  Blanding, ranges of vases, one above the other, filled with human
  remains, were found. Sometimes when the mouth of the vase is small
  the skull is placed with the face downward in the opening,
  constituting a sort of cover. Entire cemeteries have been found in
  which urn-burial alone seems to have been practiced. Such a one was
  accidentally discovered not many years since in Saint Catherine’s
  Island, off the coast of Georgia. Professor Swallow informs me that
  from a mound at New Madrid, Mo., he obtained a human skull inclosed
  in an earthen jar, the lips of which were too small to admit of its
  extraction. It must therefore have been molded on the head after

  A similar mode of burial was practiced by the Chaldeans, where the
  funeral jars often contain a human cranium much too expanded to
  admit of the possibility of its passing out of it, so that either
  the clay must have been modeled over the corpse, and then baked, or
  the neck of the jar must have been added subsequently to the other
  rites of interment.[38]

It is with regret that the writer feels obliged to differ from the
distinguished author of the work quoted regarding urn-burial, for
notwithstanding that it has been employed by some of the Central and
Southern American tribes, it is not believed to have been customary, but
_to a very limited extent_, in North America, except as a secondary
interment. He must admit that he himself has found bones in urns or
ollas in the graves of New Mexico and California, but under
circumstances that would seem to indicate a deposition long subsequent
to death. In the graves of the ancient peoples of California a number of
ollas were found in long used burying places, and it is probable that as
the bones were dug up time and again for new burials they were simply
tossed into pots, which were convenient receptacles, or it may have been
that bodies were allowed to repose in the earth long enough for the
fleshy parts to decay, and the bones were then collected, placed in
urns, and reinterred. Dr. E. Foreman, of the Smithsonian Institution,
furnishes the following account of urns used for burial:

  I would call your attention to an earthenware burial-urn and cover,
  Nos. 27976 and 27977, National Museum, but very recently received
  from Mr. William McKinley, of Milledgeville, Ga. It was exhumed on
  his plantation, ten miles below that city, on the bottom lands of
  the Oconee River, now covered with almost impassible canebrakes,
  tall grasses, and briers. We had a few months ago from the same
  source one of the covers, of which the ornamentation was different
  but more entire. A portion of a similar cover has been received also
  from Chattanooga, Tenn. Mr. McKinley ascribes the use of these urns
  and covers to the Muscogees, a branch of the Creek Nation.

These urns are made of baked clay, and are shaped somewhat like the
ordinary steatite ollas found in the California coast graves, but the
bottoms instead of being round run down to a sharp apex; on the top was
a cover, the upper part of which also terminated in an apex, and around
the border, near where it rested on the edge of the vessel, are indented
scroll ornamentations.

The burial urns of New Mexico are thus described by E. A. Barber:[39]

  Burial-urns * * * comprise vessels or ollas without handles, for
  cremation, usually being from 10 to 15 inches in height, with broad,
  open mouths, and made of coarse clay, with a laminated exterior
  (partially or entirely ornamented). Frequently the indentations
  extend simply around the neck or rim, the lower portion being plain.

So far as is known, up to the present time no burial-urns have been
found in North America resembling those discovered in Nicaragua by Dr.
J. C. Bransford, U.S.N., but it is quite within the range of possibility
that future researches in regions not far distant from that which he
explored may reveal similar treasures. Figure 6 represents different
forms of burial-urns, _a_, _b_, and _e_, after Foster, are from Laporte,
Ind. _f_, after Foster, is from Greenup County, Kentucky; _d_ is from
Milledgeville, Ga., in Smithsonian collection, No. 27976; and _c_ is one
of the peculiar shoe-shaped urns brought from Ometepec Island, Lake
Nicaragua, by Surgeon J. C. Bransford, U.S.N.

    [Illustration: FIG. 6.--Burial Urns.]

    [Illustration: FIG. 7.--Indian Cemetery.]


This mode of interment was practiced to only a limited extent, so far as
can be discovered, and it is quite probable that in most cases it was
employed as a temporary expedient when the survivors were pressed for
time. The Seminoles of Florida are said to have buried in hollow trees,
the bodies being placed in an upright position, occasionally the dead
being crammed into a hollow log lying on the ground. With some of the
Eastern tribes a log was split in half and hollowed out sufficiently
large to contain the corpse; it was then lashed together with withes and
permitted to remain where it was originally placed. In some cases a pen
was built over and around it. This statement is corroborated by R. S.
Robertson, of Fort Wayne, Ind., who states, in a communication received
in 1877, that the Miamis practiced surface burial in two different ways:

  * * * 1st. The surface burial in hollow logs. These have been found
  in heavy forests. Sometimes a tree has been split and the two halves
  hollowed out to receive the body, when it was either closed with
  withes or confined to the ground with crossed stakes; and sometimes
  a hollow tree is used by closing the ends.

  2d. Surface burial where the body was covered by a small pen of logs
  laid up as we build a cabin, but drawing in every course until they
  meet in a single log at the top.

The writer has recently received from Prof. C. Engelhardt, of
Copenhagen, Denmark, a brochure describing the oak coffins of
Borum-Æshœi. From an engraving in this volume it would appear that the
manner employed by the ancient Danes of hollowing out logs for coffins
has its analogy among the North American Indians.

Romantically conceived, and carried out to the fullest possible extent
in accordance with the _ante mortem_ wishes of the dead, were the
obsequies of Blackbird, the great chief of the Omahas. The account is
given by George Catlin:[40]

  He requested them to take his body down the river to this his
  favorite haunt, and on the pinnacle of this towering bluff to bury
  him on the back of his favorite war-horse, which was to be buried
  alive under him, from whence he could see, as he said, “the
  Frenchmen passing up and down the river in their boats.” He owned,
  amongst many horses, a noble white steed, that was led to the top of
  the grass-covered hill, and with great pomp and ceremony, in the
  presence of the whole nation and several of the fur-traders and the
  Indian agent, he was placed astride of his horse’s back, with his
  bow in his hand, and his shield and quiver slung, with his pipe and
  his medicine bag, with his supply of dried meat, and his
  tobacco-pouch replenished to last him through the journey to the
  beautiful hunting grounds of the shades of his fathers, with his
  flint, his steel, and his tinder to light his pipe by the way; the
  scalps he had taken from his enemies’ heads could be trophies for
  nobody else, and were hung to the bridle of his horse. He was in
  full dress, and fully equipped, and on his head waved to the last
  moment his beautiful head-dress of the war-eagles’ plumes. In this
  plight, and the last funeral honors having been performed by the
  medicine-men, every warrior of his band painted the palm and fingers
  of his right hand with vermillion, which was stamped and perfectly
  impressed on the milk-white sides of his devoted horse. This all
  done, turfs were brought and placed around the feet and legs of the
  horse, and gradually laid up to its sides, and at last over the back
  and head of the unsuspecting animal, and last of all over the head
  and even the eagle plumes of its valiant rider, where all together
  have smouldered and remained undisturbed to the present day.

Figure 7, after Schoolcraft, represents an Indian burial-ground on a
high bluff of the Missouri River.

According to the Rev. J. G. Wood,[41] the Obongo, an African tribe,
buried their dead in a manner similar to that which has been stated of
the Seminoles:

  When an Obongo dies it is usual to take the body to a hollow tree in
  the forest and drop it into the hollow, which is afterwards filled
  to the top with earth, leaves, and branches.

M. de la Potherie[42] gives an account of surface burial as practiced by
the Iroquois of New York:

  Quand ce malade est mort, on le met sur son séant, on oint ses
  cheveux et tout son corps d’huile d’animaux, on lui applique du
  vermillon sur le visage; on lui met toutes sortes de beaux plumages
  de la rassade de la porcelaine et on le pare des plus beaux habits
  que l’on peut trouver, pendant que les parens et des vieilles
  continuent toujours à pleurer. Cette cérémonie finie, les alliez
  apportent plusieurs présens. Les uns sont pour essuyer les larmes et
  les autres pour servir de matelas au défunt, on en destine certains
  pour couvrir la fosse, de peur, disent-ils, que la plague ne
  l’incommode, on y étend fort proprement des peaux d’ours et de
  chevreuils qui lui servent de lit, et on lui met ses ajustemens avec
  un sac de farine de bled d’Inde, de la viande, sa cuillière, et
  généralement tout ce qu’il faut à un homme qui veut faire un long
  voyage, avec toux les présens qui lui ont été faits á sa mort, et
  s’il a été guerrier on lui donne ses armes pour s’en servir au pais
  des morts. L’on couvre ensuite ce cadavre d’écorce d’arbres sur
  lesquelles on jette de la terre et quantité de pierres, et on
  l’entoure de pierres pour empêcher que les animaux ne le déterrent.
  Ces sortes de funérailles ne se font que dans leur village.
  Lorsqu’ils meurent en campagne on les met dans un cercueil d’écorce,
  entre les branches des arbres où on les élève sur quatre pilliers.

  On observe ces mêmes funérailles aux femmes et aux filles. Tous ceux
  qui ont assisté aux obsèques profitent de toute la dépouille du
  défunt et s’il n’avoit rien, les parens y supléent. Ainsi ils ne
  pleurent pas en vain. Le deuil consiste à ne se point couper ni
  graisser les cheveux et de se tenir négligé sans aucune parure,
  couverts de méchantes hardes. Le père et la mère portent le deuil de
  leur fils. Si le père meurt les garçons le portent, et les filles de
  leur mère.

Dr. P. Gregg, of Rock Island, Illinois, has been kind enough to forward
to the writer an interesting work by J. V. Spencer,[43] containing
annotations by himself. He gives the following account of surface and
partial surface burial occurring among the Sacs and Foxes formerly
inhabiting Illinois:

  Black Hawk was placed upon the ground in a sitting posture, his
  hands grasping his cane. They usually made a shallow hole in the
  ground, setting the body in up to the waist, so the most of the body
  was above ground. The part above ground was then covered by a
  buffalo robe, and a trench about eight feet square was then dug
  about the grave. In this trench they set picketing about eight feet
  high, which secured the grave against wild animals. When I first
  came here there were quite a number of these high picketings still
  standing where their chiefs had been buried, and the body of a chief
  was disposed of in this way while I lived near their village. The
  common mode of burial was to dig a shallow grave, wrap the body in a
  blanket, place it in the grave, and fill it nearly full of dirt;
  then take split sticks about three feet long and stand them in the
  grave so that their tops would come together in the form of a roof;
  then they filled in more earth so as to hold the sticks in place.
  I saw a father and mother start out alone to bury their child about
  a year old; they carried it by tieing it up in a blanket and putting
  a long stick through the blanket, each taking an end of the stick.

    [Illustration: FIG. 8.--Grave Pen.]

    [Illustration: FIG. 9.--Grave Pen.]

  I have also seen the dead bodies placed in trees. This is done by
  digging a trough out of a log, placing the body in it, and covering
  it. I have seen several bodies in one tree. I think when they are
  disposed of in this way it is by special request, as I knew of an
  Indian woman who lived with a white family who desired her body
  placed in a tree, which was accordingly done.[44*] Doubtless there
  was some peculiar superstition attached to this mode, though I do
  not remember to have heard what it was.

Judge H. Welch[45] states that “the Sauks, Foxes, and Pottawatomies
buried by setting the body on the ground and building a pen around it of
sticks or logs. I think the bodies lay heads to the east.” And C. C.
Baldwin, of Cleveland, Ohio, sends a more detailed account, as follows:

  I was some time since in Seneca County and there met Judge Welch.
  * * * In 1824 he went with his father-in-law, Judge Gibson, to Fort
  Wayne. On the way they passed the grave of an Ottawa or Pottawatomie
  chief. The body lay on the ground covered with notched poles. It had
  been there but a few days and the worms were crawling around the
  body. My special interest in the case was the accusation of
  witchcraft against a young squaw who was executed for killing him by
  her arts. In the Summit County mounds there were only parts of
  skeletons with charcoal and ashes, showing they had been burned.

W. A. Brice[46] mentions a curious variety of surface burial not
heretofore met with:

  And often had been seen, years ago, swinging from the bough of a
  tree, or in a hammock stretched between two trees, the infant of the
  Indian mother; or a few little log inclosures, where the bodies of
  adults sat upright, with all their former apparel wrapped about
  them, and their trinkets, tomahawks, &c., by their side, could be
  seen at any time for many years by the few pale-faces visiting or
  sojourning here.

A method of interment so closely allied to surface burial that it may be
considered under that head is the one employed by some of the Ojibways
and Swampy Crees of Canada. A small cavity is scooped out, the body
deposited therein, covered with a little dirt, the mound thus formed
being covered either with split planks, poles, or birch bark.

Prof. Henry Youle Hind, who was in charge of the Canadian Red River
exploring expedition of 1858, has been good enough to forward to the
Bureau of Ethnology two photographs representing the variety of grave,
which he found 15 or 20 miles from the present town of Winnipeg, and
they are represented in the woodcuts, Figures 8 and 9.


The next mode of interment to be considered is that of cairn or rock
burial, which has prevailed and is still common to a considerable extent
among the tribes living in the Rocky Mountains and the Sierra Nevadas.

In the summer of 1872 the writer visited one of these rock cemeteries in
Middle Utah, which had been used for a period not exceeding fifteen or
twenty years. It was situated at the bottom of a rock slide, upon the
side of an almost inaccessible mountain, in a position so carefully
chosen for concealment that it would have been almost impossible to find
it without a guide. Several of the graves were opened, and found to have
been constructed in the following manner: A number of bowlders had been
removed from the bed of the slide until a sufficient cavity had been
obtained; this was lined with skins, the corpse placed therein, with
weapons, ornaments, &c., and covered over with saplings of the mountain
aspen; on the top of these the removed bowlders were piled, forming a
huge cairn, which appeared large enough to have marked the last resting
place of an elephant. In the immediate vicinity of the graves were
scattered the osseous remains of a number of horses which had been
sacrificed, no doubt, during the funeral ceremonies. In one of the
graves, said to contain the body of a chief, in addition to a number of
articles useful and ornamental, were found parts of the skeleton of a
boy, and tradition states that a captive boy was buried alive at this

From Dr. O. G. Given, physician to the Kiowa and Comanche Agency, Indian
Territory, the following description of burial ceremonies was received.
According to this gentleman the Kiowas call themselves _Kaw-a-wāh_, the
Comanches _Nerm_, and the Apaches _Tāh-zee_.

  They bury in the ground or in crevices of rocks. They do not seem to
  have any particular rule with regard to the position. Sometimes
  prone, sometimes supine, but always decumbent. They select a place
  where the grave is easily prepared, which they do with such
  implements as they chance to have, viz, a squaw-axe, or hoe. If they
  are traveling, the grave is often very hastily prepared and not much
  time is spent in finishing. I was present at the burial of Black
  Hawk, an Apache chief, some two years ago, and took the body in my
  light wagon up the side of a mountain to the place of burial. They
  found a crevice in the rocks about four feet wide and three feet
  deep. By filling in loose rocks at either end they made a very nice
  tomb. The body was then put in face downwards, short sticks were put
  across, resting on projections of rock at the sides, brush was
  thrown on this, and flat rocks laid over the whole of it.

  The body of the deceased is dressed in the best clothing, together
  with all the ornaments most admired by the person when living. The
  face is painted with any colored paint they may have, mostly red and
  yellow, as I have observed. The body is then wrapped in skins,
  blankets, or domestic, with the hands laid across the breast, and
  the legs placed upon the thighs. They put into the grave their guns,
  bows and arrows, tobacco, and if they have it a blanket, moccasins,
  and trinkets of various kinds. One or more horses are killed over or
  near the grave. Two horses and a mule were killed near Black Hawk’s
  grave. They were led up near and shot in the head. At the death of a
  Comanche chief, some years ago, I am told about seventy horses were
  killed, and a greater number than that were said to have been killed
  at the death of a prominent Kiowa chief a few years since.

  The mourning is principally done by the relatives and immediate
  friends, although any one of their own tribe, or one of another
  tribe, who chances to be passing, will stop and moan with the
  relatives. Their mourning consists in a weird wail, which to be
  described must be heard, and once heard is never forgotten, together
  with the scarifying of their faces, arms, and legs with some sharp
  instrument, the cutting off of the hair, and oftentimes the cutting
  off of a joint of a finger, usually the little finger (Comanches do
  not cut off fingers). The length of time and intensity of their
  mourning depends upon the relation and position of the deceased in
  the tribe. I have known instances where, if they should be passing
  along where any of their friends had died, even a year after their
  death, they would mourn.

The Shoshones, of Nevada, generally concealed their dead beneath heaps
of rocks, according to H. Butterfield, of Tyho, Nye County, Nevada,
although occasionally they either burn or bury them. He gives as reasons
for rock burial: 1st, to prevent coyotes eating the corpses; 2d, because
they have no tools for deep excavations; and 3d, natural indolence of
the Indians--indisposition to work any more than can be helped.

The Pi-Utes, of Oregon, bury in cairns; the Blackfeet do the same, as
did also the Acaxers and Yaquis, of Mexico, and the Esquimaux; in fact,
a number of examples might be quoted. In foreign lands the custom
prevailed among certain African tribes, and it is said that the ancient
Balearic Islanders covered their dead with a heap of stones, but this
ceremony was preceded by an operation which consisted in cutting the
body in small pieces and collecting in a pot.


Next should be noted this mode of disposing of the dead, a common custom
to a considerable extent among North American tribes, especially those
living on the western slope of the Rocky Mountains, although we have
undoubted evidence that it was also practiced, among the more eastern
ones. This rite may be considered as peculiarly interesting from its
great antiquity, for Tegg[47] informs us that it reached as far back as
the Theban war, in the account of which mention is made of the burning
of Menœacus and Archemorus, who were contemporary with Jair, eighth
judge of Israel. It was common in the interior of Asia, and among the
ancient Greeks and Romans, and has also prevailed among the Hindoos up
to the present time. In fact, it is now rapidly becoming a custom among
civilized people.

While there is a certain degree of similarity between the performance of
this rite among the people spoken of and the Indians of North America,
yet, did space admit, a discussion might profitably be entered upon
regarding the details of it among the ancients and the origin of the
ceremony. As it is, simple narrations of cremation in the country, with
discursive notes and an account of its origin among the Nishinams of
California, by Stephen Powers,[48] seem to be all that is required at
this time:

  The moon and the coyote wrought together in creating all things that
  exist. The moon was good, but the coyote was bad. In making men and
  women, the moon wished to so fashion their souls that when they died
  they should return to the earth after two or three days as he
  himself does when he dies. But the coyote was evil disposed and said
  this should not be; but that when men died their friends should burn
  their bodies and once a year make a great mourning for them and the
  coyote prevailed. So, presently when deer died, they burned his
  body, as the coyote had decreed and after a year they made a great
  mourning for him. But the moon created the rattlesnake and caused it
  to bite the coyote’s son, so that he died. Now, though the coyote
  had been willing to burn the deer’s relations, he refused to burn
  his own son. Then the moon said unto him, “This is your own rule.
  You would have it so, and now your son shall be burned like the
  others.” So he was burned, and after a year the coyote mourned for
  him. Thus the law was established over the coyote also, and, as he
  had dominion over men, it prevailed over men likewise.

  This story is utterly worthless for itself, but it has its value in
  that it shows there was a time when the California Indians did not
  practice cremation, which is also established by other traditions.
  It hints at the additional fact that the Nishinams to this day set
  great store by the moon, consider it their benefactor in a hundred
  ways and observe its changes for a hundred purposes.

Another myth regarding cremation is given by Adam Johnston in
Schoolcraft[49] and relates to the Bonaks, or root-diggers:

  The first Indians that lived were coyotes. When one of their number
  died the body became full of little animals or spirits, as they
  thought then. After crawling over the body for a time they took all
  manner of shapes, some that of the deer, others the elk, antelope,
  etc. It was discovered however, that great numbers were taking wings
  and for a while they sailed about in the air, but eventually they
  would fly off to the moon. The old coyotes or Indians, fearing the
  earth might become depopulated in this way, concluded to stop it at
  once and ordered that when one of their people died the body must be
  burnt. Ever after they continued to burn the bodies of deceased

Ross Cox gives an account of the process as performed by the Tolkotins
of Oregon:[50]

  The ceremonies attending the dead are very singular and quite
  peculiar to this tribe. The body of the deceased is kept nine days
  laid out in his lodge and on the tenth it is buried. For this
  purpose a rising ground is selected, on which are laid a number of
  sticks, about 7 feet long, of cypress, neatly split and in the
  interstices, placed a quantity of gummy wood. During these
  operations invitations are dispatched to the natives of the
  neighboring villages requesting their attendance at the ceremony.
  When the preparations are perfected, the corpse is placed on the
  pile, which is immediately ignited and during the process of
  burning, the bystanders appear to be in a high state of merriment.
  If a stranger happen to be present they invariably plunder him, but
  if that pleasure be denied them, they never separate without
  quarreling among themselves. Whatever property the deceased
  possessed is placed about the corpse, and if he happened to be a
  person of consequence, his friends generally purchase a capote,
  a shirt, a pair of trousers, &c, which articles are also laid around
  the pile. If the doctor who attended him has escaped uninjured, he
  is obliged to be present at the ceremony, and for the last time
  tries his skill in restoring the defunct to animation. Failing in
  this, he throws on the body a piece of leather, or some other
  article, as a present, which in some measure appeases the resentment
  of his relatives, and preserves the unfortunate quack from being
  maltreated. During the nine days the corpse is laid out, the widow
  of the deceased is obliged to sleep along side it from sunset to
  sunrise, and from this custom there is no relaxation even during the
  hottest days of summer! While the doctor is performing his last
  operations she must lie on the pile, and after the fire is applied
  to it she cannot stir until the doctor orders her to be removed,
  which, however, is never done until her body is completely covered
  with blisters. After being placed on her legs, she is obliged to
  pass her hands gently through the flame and collect some of the
  liquid fat which issues from the corpse, with which she is permitted
  to wet her face and body. When the friends of the deceased observe
  the sinews of the legs and arms beginning to contract they compel
  the unfortunate widow to go again on the pile, and by dint of hard
  pressing to straighten those members.

    [Illustration: FIG. 10.--Tolkotin cremation.]

  If during her husband’s life time she has been known to have
  committed any act of infidelity or omitted administering to him
  savory food or neglected his clothing, &c. she is now made to suffer
  severely for such lapses of duty by his relations, who frequently
  fling her in the funeral pile, from which she is dragged by her
  friends, and thus between alternate scorching and cooling she is
  dragged backwards and forwards until she falls into a state of

  After the process of burning the corpse has terminated, the widow
  collects the larger bones, which she rolls up in an envelope of
  birch bark and which she is obliged for some years afterwards to
  carry on her back. She is now considered and treated as a slave, all
  the laborious duties of cooking, collecting food, &c. devolve on
  her. She must obey the orders of all the women, and even of the
  children belonging to the village, and the slightest mistake or
  disobedience subjects her to the infliction of a heavy punishment.
  The ashes of her husband are carefully collected and deposited in a
  grave which it is her duty to keep free from weeds, and should any
  such appear, she is obliged to root them out with her fingers.
  During this operation her husband’s relatives stand by and beat her
  in a cruel manner until the task is completed or she falls a victim
  to their brutality. The wretched widows, to avoid this complicated
  cruelty, frequently commit suicide. Should she, however, linger on
  for three or four years, the friends of her husband agree to relieve
  her from the her painful mourning. This is a ceremony of much
  consequence and the preparations for it occupy a considerable time
  generally from six to eight months. The hunters proceed to the
  various districts in which deer and beaver abound and after
  collecting large quantities of meat and fur return to the village.
  The skins are immediately bartered for guns, ammunition, clothing,
  trinkets, &c. Invitations are then sent to the inhabitants of the
  various friendly villages, and when they have all assembled the
  feast commences, and presents are distributed to each visitor. The
  object of their meeting is then explained, and the woman is brought
  forward, still carrying on her back the bones of her late husband,
  which are now removed and placed in a covered box, which is nailed
  or otherwise fastened to a post twelve feet high. Her conduct as a
  faithful widow is next highly eulogized, and the ceremony of her
  manumission is completed by one man powdering on her head the down
  of birds and another pouring on it the contents of a bladder of oil.
  She is then at liberty to marry again or lead a life of single
  blessedness, but few of them, I believe, wish to encounter the risk
  attending a second widowhood.

  The men are condemned to a similar ordeal, but they do not bear it
  with equal fortitude, and numbers fly to distant quarters to avoid
  the brutal treatment which custom has established as a kind of
  religious rite.

Figure 10 is an ideal sketch of the cremation according to the
description given.

Perhaps a short review of some of the peculiar and salient points of
this narrative may be permitted.

It is stated that the corpse is kept nine days after death--certainly a
long period of time, when it is remembered that Indians as a rule
endeavor to dispose of their dead as soon as possible. This may be
accounted for on the supposition that it is to give the friends and
relatives an opportunity of assembling, verifying the death, and of
making proper preparations for the ceremony. With regard to the
verification of the dead person, William Sheldon[51] gives an account of
a similar custom which was common among the Caraibs of Jamaica, and
which seems to throw some light upon the unusual retention of deceased
persons by the tribe in question, although it most be admitted that this
is mere hypothesis:

  They had some very extraordinary customs respecting deceased
  persons. When one of them died, it was necessary that all his
  relations should see him and examine the body in order to ascertain
  that he died a natural death. They acted so rigidly on this
  principle, that if one relative remained who had not seen the body
  all the others could not convince that one that the death was
  natural. In such a case the absent relative considered himself as
  bound in honor to consider all the other relatives as having been
  accessories to the death of the kinsman, and did not rest until he
  had killed one of them to revenge the death of the deceased. If a
  Caraib died in Martinico or Guadaloupe and but his relations lived
  in St. Vincents, it was necessary to summon them to see the body,
  and several months sometimes elapsed before it could be finally
  interred. When a Caraib died he was immediately painted all over
  with _roucou_, and had his mustachios and the black streaks in his
  face made with a black paint, which was different from that used in
  their lifetime. A kind of grave was then dug in the _carbet_ where
  he died, about 4 feet square and 6 or 7 feet deep. The body was let
  down in it, when sand was thrown in, which reached to the knees, and
  the body was placed in it in a sitting posture, resembling that in
  which they crouched round the fire or the table when alive, with the
  elbows on the knees and the palms of the hands against the cheeks.
  No part of the body touched the outside of the grave, which was
  covered with wood and mats until all the relations had examined it.
  When the customary examinations and inspections were ended the hole
  was filled, and the bodies afterwards remained undisturbed. The hair
  of the deceased was kept tied behind. In this way bodies have
  remained several months without any symptoms of decay or producing
  any disagreeable smell. The _roucou_ not only preserved them from
  the sun, air, and insects during their lifetime, but probably had
  the same effect after death. The arms of the Caraibs were placed by
  them when they were covered over for inspection, and they were
  finally buried with them.

Again, we are told that during the burning the bystanders are very
merry. This hilarity is similar to that shown by the Japanese at a
funeral, who rejoice that the troubles and worries of the world are over
for the fortunate dead. The plundering of strangers present, it may be
remembered, also took place among the Indians of the Carolinas. As
already mentioned on a preceding page, the cruel manner in which the
widow is treated seems to be a modification of the Hindoo suttee, but,
if the account be true, it would appear that death might be preferable
to such torments.

It is interesting to note that in Corsica, as late as 1743, if a husband
died, women threw themselves upon the widow and beat her severely.
Brohier quaintly remarks that this custom obliged women to take good
care of their husbands.

George Gibbs, in Schoolcraft,[52] states that among the Indians of Clear
Lake, California, “the body is consumed upon a scaffold built over a
hole, into which the ashes are thrown and covered.”

According to Stephen Powers,[53] cremation was common among the Se-nél
of California. He thus relates it.

  The dead are mostly burned. Mr. Willard described to me a scene of
  incremation that he once witnessed, which was frightful for its
  exhibitions of fanatic frenzy and infatuation. The corpse was that
  of a wealthy chieftain, and as he lay upon the funeral pyre they
  placed in his month two gold twenties, and other smaller coins in
  his ears and hands, on his breast, &c. besides all his finery, his
  feather mantles, plumes, clothing, shell money, his fancy bows,
  painted arrows, &c. When the torch was applied they set up a
  mournful ululation, chanting and dancing about him, gradually
  working themselves into a wild and ecstatic raving, which seemed
  almost a demoniacal possession, leaping, howling, lacerating their
  flesh. Many seemed to lose all self-control. The younger
  English-speaking Indians generally lend themselves charily to such
  superstitious work, especially if American spectators are present,
  but even they were carried away by the old contagious frenzy of
  their race. One stripped off a broadcloth coat, quite new and fine,
  and ran frantically yelling and cast it upon the blazing pile.
  Another rushed up, and was about to throw on a pile of California
  blankets, when a white man, to test his sincerity, offend him $16
  for them, jingling the bright coins before his eyes, but the savage
  (for such he had become again for the moment) otherwise so
  avaricious, hurled him away with a yell of execration and ran and
  threw his offering into the flames. Squaws, even more frenzied,
  wildly flung upon the pyre all they had in the world--their dearest
  ornaments, their gaudiest dresses, their strings of glittering
  shells. Screaming, wailing, tearing their hair, beating their
  breasts in their mad and insensate infatuation, some of them would
  have cast themselves bodily into the flaming ruins and perished with
  the chief had they not been restrained by their companions. Then the
  bright, swift flames, with their hot tongues, licked this “cold
  obstruction” into chemic change, and the once “delighted spirit” of
  the savage was borne up. * * *

  It seems as if the savage shared in Shakspeare’s shudder at the
  thought of rotting in the dismal grave, for it is the one passion of
  his superstition to think of the soul, of his departed friend set
  free and purified by the swift purging heat of the flames not
  dragged down to be clogged and bound in the mouldering body, but
  borne up in the soft, warm chariots of the smoke toward the
  beautiful sun, to bask in his warmth and light, and then to fly away
  to the Happy Western Land. What wonder if the Indian shrinks with
  unspeakable horror from the thought of _burying his friend’s
  soul!_--of pressing and ramming down with pitiless clods that inner
  something which once took such delight in the sweet light of the
  sun! What wonder if it takes years to persuade him to do otherwise
  and follow our custom! What wonder if even then he does it with sad
  fears and misgivings! Why not let him keep his custom! In the
  gorgeous landscapes and balmy climate of California an Indian
  incremation is as natural to the savage as it is for him to love the
  beauty of the sun. Let the vile Esquimaux and the frozen Siberian
  bury their dead if they will; it matters little, the earth is the
  same above as below; or to them the bosom of the earth may seem even
  the better; but in California do not blame the savage if he recoils
  at the thought of going underground! This soft pale halo of the
  lilac hills--ah, let him console himself if he will with the belief
  that his lost friend enjoys it still! The narrator concluded by
  saying that they destroyed full $500 worth of property. “The
  blankets,” said he with a fine Californian scorn of much absurd
  insensibility to such a good bargain, “the blankets that the
  American offered him $16 for were not worth half the money.”

  After death the Se-nél hold that bad Indians return into coyotes.
  Others fall off a bridge which all souls must traverse, or are
  hooked off by a raging bull at the further end, while the good
  escape across. Like the Yokaia and the Konkan, they believe it
  necessary to nourish the spirits of the departed for the space of a
  year. This is generally done by a squaw, who takes pinole in her
  blanket, repairs to the scene of the incremation, or to places
  hallowed by the memory of the dead, when she scatters it over the
  ground, meantime rocking her body violently to and fro in a dance
  and chanting the following chorous:


  This refrain is repeated over and over indefinitely, but the words
  have no meaning whatever.

Henry Gillman[54] has published an interesting account of the
exploration of a mound near Waldo, Fla., in which he found abundant
evidence that cremation had existed among the former Indian population.
It is as follows:

  In opening a burial-mound at Cade’s Pond, a small body of water
  situated about two miles northeastward of Santa Fé Lake, Fla., the
  writer found two instances of cremation, in each of which the skull
  of the subject, which was unconsumed, was used as the depository of
  his ashes. The mound contained besides a large number of human
  burials, the bones being much decayed. With them were deposited a
  great number of vessels of pottery, many of which are painted in
  brilliant colors, chiefly red, yellow, and brown, and some of them
  ornamented with indented patterns, displaying not a little skill in
  the ceramic art, though they are reduced to fragments. The first of
  the skulls referred to was exhumed at a depth of 2½ feet. It rested
  on its apex (base uppermost), and was filled with fragments of half
  incinerated human bones, mingled with dark-colored dust, and the
  sand which invariably sifts into crania under such circumstances.
  Immediately beneath the skull lay the greater part of a human tibia,
  presenting the peculiar compression known as a platycnemism to the
  degree of affording a latitudinal index of .512; while beneath and
  surrounding it lay the fragments of a large number of human bones,
  probably constituting an entire individual. In the second instance
  of this peculiar mode in cremation, the cranium was discovered on
  nearly the opposite side of the mound, at a depth of 2 feet, and,
  like the former, resting on its apex. It was filled with a black
  mass--the residuum of burnt human bones mingled with sand. At three
  feet to the eastward lay the shaft of a flattened tibia, which
  presents the longitudinal index of .527. Both the skulls were free
  from all action of fire, and though subsequently crumbling to pieces
  on their removal, the writer had opportunity to observe their strong
  resemblance to the small, orthocephalic crania which he had exhumed
  from mounds in Michigan. The same resemblance was perceptible in the
  other cranium belonging to this mound. The small narrow, retreating
  frontal, prominent parietal protuberances, rather protuberant
  occipital, which was not in the least compressed, the well defined
  supraciliary ridges, and the superior border of the orbits,
  presenting a quadrilateral outline, were also particularly noticed.
  The lower facial bones, including the maxillaries, were wanting. On
  consulting such works as are accessible to him, the writer finds no
  mention of any similar relics having been discovered in mounds in
  Florida, or elsewhere. For further particulars reference may be had
  to a paper on the subject read before the Saint Louis meeting of the
  American Association, August, 1878.

The discoveries made by Mr. Gillman would seem to indicate that the
people whose bones he excavated resorted to a process of partial
cremation, some examples of which will be given on another page. The use
of crania as receptacles is certainly remarkable, if not unique.

The fact is well-known to archæologists that whenever cremation was
practiced by Indians it was customary as a rule to throw into the
blazing pyre all sorts of articles supposed to be useful to the dead,
but no instance is known of such a wholesale destruction of property as
occurred when the Indians of Southern Utah burned their dead, for Dr. E.
Foreman relates, in the American Naturalist for July, 1876, the account
of the exploration of a mound in that Territory, which proves that at
the death of a person not only were the remains destroyed by fire, but
all articles of personal property, even the very habitation which had
served as a home. After the process was completed, what remained
unburned was covered with earth and a mound formed.

A. S. Tiffany[55] describes what he calls a cremation-furnace,
discovered within seven miles of Davenport, Iowa.

  * * * Mound seven miles, below the city, a projecting point known as
  Eagle Point. The surface was of the usual black soil to the depth of
  from 6 to 8 inches. Next was found a burnt indurated clay,
  resembling in color and texture a medium-burned brick, and about 30
  inches in depth. Immediately beneath this clay was a bed of charred
  human remains 6 to 18 inches thick. This rested upon the unchanged
  and undisturbed loam of the bluffs, which formed the floor of the
  pit. Imbedded in this floor of unburned clay were a few very much
  decomposed, but unburned, human bones. No implements of any kind
  were discovered. The furnace appears to have been constructed by
  excavating the pit and placing at the bottom of it the bodies or
  skeletons which had possibly been collected from scaffolds, and
  placing the fuel among and above the bodies, with a covering of
  poles or split timbers extending over and resting upon the earth,
  with the clay covering above, which latter we now find resting upon
  the charred remains. The ends of the timber covering, where they
  were protected by the earth above and below, were reduced to
  charcoal, parallel pieces of which were found at right angles to 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 Tennessee 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 thus:

  “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 of the corpse was left, except of the forehead and that
  portion of the limbs between the ankles and the knees, and even
  these portions of the mould crumbled. The body had been placed east
  and west, the head toward the east. “I had hoped,” continues Mr.
  McDowell, “that the cast in the clay would be as perfect as one I
  found 51 years ago, a fragment of which I presented to Colonel
  Jenkes, with the impression of a part of the arm on one side and on
  the other of the fingers, that had pressed down the soft clay upon
  the body interred beneath it.” The mound-builders of the Ohio
  valley, as has been shown, often placed a layer of clay over the
  dead, but not in immediate contact, upon which they builded fires;
  and the evidence that cremation was often resorted to in their
  disposition are too abundant to be gainsaid.

This statement is corroborated by Mr. Wilcox:[57]

  Mr. Wilcox also stated that when recently in North Carolina his
  attention was called to an unusual method of burial by an ancient
  race of Indians in that vicinity. In numerous instances burial
  places were discovered where the bodies had been placed with the
  face up and covered with a coating of plastic clay about an inch
  thick. A pile of wood was then placed on top and fired, which
  consumed the body and baked the clay, which retained the impression
  of the body. This was then lightly covered with earth.

It is thought no doubt can attach to the statements given, but the cases
are remarkable as being the only instances of the kind met with in the
extensive range of reading preparatory to a study of the subject of
burial, although it must be observed that Bruhier states that the
ancient Ethiopians covered the corpses of their dead with plaster
(probably mud), but they did not burn these curious coffins.

Another method, embracing both burial and cremation, has been practiced
by the Pitt River or Achomawi Indians of California, who

  Bury the body in the ground in a standing position, the shoulders
  nearly even with the ground. The grave is prepared by digging a hole
  of sufficient depth and circumference to admit the body, the head
  being cut off. In the grave are placed the bows and arrows,
  bead-work, trappings, &c., belonging to the deceased; quantities of
  food, consisting of dried fish, roots, herbs, &c., were placed with
  the body also. The grave was then filled up, covering the headless
  body; then a bundle of fagots was brought and placed on the grave by
  the different members of the tribe, and on these fagots the head was
  placed, the pile fired, and the head consumed to ashes; after this
  was done the female relatives of the deceased, who had appeared as
  mourners with their faces blackened with a preparation resembling
  tar or paint, dipped their fingers in the ashes of the cremated head
  and made three marks on their right cheek. This constituted the
  mourning garb, the period of which lasted until this black substance
  wore off from the face. In addition to this mourning, the blood
  female relatives of the deceased (who, by the way, appeared to be a
  man of distinction) had their hair cropped short. I noticed while
  the head was burning that the old women of the tribe sat on the
  ground, forming a large circle, inside of which another circle of
  young girls were formed standing and swaying their bodies to and fro
  and singing a mournful ditty. This was the only burial of a male
  that I witnessed. The custom of burying females is very different,
  their bodies being wrapped or bundled up in skins and laid away in
  caves, with their valuables and in some cases food being placed with
  them in their mouths. Occasionally money is left to pay for food in
  the spirit land.

This account is furnished by Gen. Charles H. Tompkins, deputy
quartermaster-general, United States Army, who witnessed the burial
above related, and is the more interesting as it seems to be the only
well-authenticated case on record, although E. A. Barber[58] has
described what may possibly have been a case of cremation like the one
above noted:

  A very singular case of aboriginal burial was brought to my notice
  recently by Mr. William Klingbeil, of Philadelphia. On the New
  Jersey bank of the Delaware River, a short distance below Gloucester
  City, the skeleton of a man was found buried in a standing position,
  in a high, red, sandy-clay bluff overlooking the stream. A few
  inches below the surface the neck bones were found, and below these
  the remainder of the skeleton, with the exception of the bones of
  the hands and feet. The skull being wanting, it could not be
  determined whether the remains were those of an Indian or of a white
  man, but in either case the sepulture was peculiarly aboriginal.
  A careful exhumation and critical examination by Mr. Klingbeil
  disclosed the fact that around the lower extremities of the body had
  been placed a number of large stones, which revealed traces of fire,
  in conjunction with charred wood, and the bones of the feet had
  undoubtedly been consumed. This fact makes it appear reasonably
  certain that the subject had been executed, probably as a prisoner
  of war. A pit had been dug, in which he was placed erect, and a fire
  kindled around him. Then he had been buried alive, or, at least, if
  he did not survive the fiery ordeal, his body was imbedded in the
  earth, with the exception of his head, which was left protruding
  above the surface. As no trace of the cranium could be found, it
  seems probable that the head had either been burned or severed from
  the body and removed, or else left a prey to ravenous birds. The
  skeleton, which would have measured fully six feet in height, was
  undoubtedly that of a man.

Blacking the face, as is mentioned in the first account, is a custom
known to have existed among many tribes throughout the world, but in
some cases different earths and pigments are used as signs of mourning.
The natives of Guinea smear a chalky substance over their bodies as an
outward expression of grief, and it is well known that the ancient
Israelites threw ashes on their heads and garments. Placing food with
the corpse or in its mouth, and money in the hand, finds its analogue in
the custom of the ancient Romans, who, some time before interment,
placed a piece of money in the corpse’s mouth, which was thought to be
Charon’s fare for wafting the departed soul over the Infernal River.
Besides this, the corpse’s mouth was furnished with a certain cake,
composed of flour, honey, &c. This was designed to appease the fury of
Cerberus, the infernal doorkeeper, and to procure a safe and quiet
entrance. These examples are curious coincidences, if nothing more.



Our attention should next be turned to sepulture above the ground,
including lodge, house, box, scaffold, tree, and canoe burial, and the
first example which may be given is that of burial in lodges, which is
by no means common. The description which follows is by Stansbury,[59]
and relates to the Sioux:

  I put on my moccasins, and, displaying my wet shirt like a flag to
  the wind, we proceeded to the lodges which had attracted our
  curiosity. There were five of them pitched upon the open prairie,
  and in them we found the bodies of nine Sioux laid out upon the
  ground, wrapped in their robes of buffalo-skin, with their saddles,
  spears, camp-kettles, and all their accoutrements piled up around
  them. Some lodges contained three, others only one body, all of
  which were more or less in a state of decomposition. A short
  distance apart from these was one lodge which, though small, seemed
  of rather superior pretensions, and was evidently pitched with great
  care. It contained the body of a young Indian girl of sixteen or
  eighteen years, with a countenance presenting quite an agreeable
  expression: she was richly dressed in leggins of fine scarlet cloth
  elaborately ornamented; a new pair of moccasins, beautifully
  embroidered with porcupine quills, was on her feet, and her body was
  wrapped in two superb buffalo-robes worked in like manner; she had
  evidently been dead but a day or two, and to our surprise a portion
  of the upper part of her person was bare, exposing the face and a
  part of the breast, as if the robes in which she was wrapped had by
  some means been disarranged, whereas all the other bodies were
  closely covered up. It was, at the time, the opinion of our
  mountaineers, that these Indians must have fallen in an encounter
  with a party of Crows; but I subsequently learned that they had all
  died of the cholera, and that this young girl, being considered past
  recovery, had been arranged by her friends in the habiliments of the
  dead, inclosed in the lodge alive, and abandoned to her fate, so
  fearfully alarmed were the Indians by this to them novel and
  terrible disease.

It might, perhaps, be said that this form of burial was exceptional, and
due to the dread of again using the lodges which had served as the homes
of those afflicted with the cholera, but it is thought such was not the
case, as the writer has notes of the same kind of burial among the same
tribe and of others, notably the Crows, the body of one of their chiefs
(Long Horse) being disposed of as follows:

  The lodge poles inclose an oblong circle some 18 by 22 feet at the
  base, converging to a point, at least 30 feet high, covered with
  buffalo-hides dressed without hair except a part of the tail switch,
  which floats outside like, and mingled with human scalps. The
  different skins are neatly fitted and sewed together with sinew, and
  all painted in seven alternate horizontal stripes of brown and
  yellow, decorated with various lifelike war scenes. Over the small
  entrance is a large bright cross, the upright being a large stuffed
  white wolf-skin upon his war lance, and the cross-bar of bright
  scarlet flannel, containing the quiver of bow and arrows, which
  nearly all warriors still carry, even when armed with repeating
  rifles. As the cross is not a pagan but a Christian (which Long
  Horse was not either by profession or practice) emblem, it was
  probably placed there by the influence of some of his white friends.
  I entered, finding Long Horse buried Indian fashion, in full war
  dress, paint and feathers, in a rude coffin, upon a platform about
  breast high, decorated with weapons, scalps, and ornaments. A large
  opening and wind-flap at the top favored ventilation, and though he
  had lain there in an open coffin a full month, some of which was hot
  weather, there was but little effluvia; in fact, I have seldom found
  much in a burial-teepee, and when this mode of burial is thus
  performed it is less repulsive than natural to suppose.

This account is furnished by Col. P. W. Norris, superintendent of
Yellowstone National Park, he having been an eye-witness of what he
relates in 1876; and although the account has been questioned, it is
admitted for the reason that this gentleman persists, after a reperusal
of his article, that the facts are correct.

General Stewart Van Vliet, U.S.A., informs the writer that among the
Sioux of Wyoming and Nebraska when a person of consequence dies a small
scaffold is erected inside his lodge and the body wrapped in skins
deposited therein. Different utensils and weapons are placed by his
side, and in front a horse is slaughtered; the lodge is then closed up.

Dr. W. J. Hoffman writes as follows regarding the burial lodges of the
Shoshones of Nevada:

  The Shoshones of the upper portion of Nevada are not known to have
  at any time practiced cremation. In Independence Valley, under a
  deserted and demolished _wickeup_ or “brush tent,” I found the
  dried-up corpse of a boy, about twelve years of age. The body had
  been here for at least six weeks, according to information received,
  and presented a shriveled and hideous appearance. The dryness of the
  atmosphere prevented decomposition. The Indians in this region
  usually leave the body when life terminates, merely throwing over it
  such rubbish as may be at hand, or the remains of their primitive
  shelter tents, which are mostly composed of small branches, leaves,
  grass, &c.

  The Shoshones living on Independence Creek and on the eastern banks
  of the Owyhee River, upper portion of Nevada, did not bury their
  dead at the time of my visit in 1871. Whenever the person died, his
  lodge (usually constructed of poles and branches of _Salix_) was
  demolished and placed in one confused mass over his remains, when
  the band removed a short distance. When the illness is not too
  great, or death sudden, the sick person is removed to a favorable
  place, some distance from their temporary camping ground, so as to
  avoid the necessity of their own removal. Coyotes, ravens, and other
  carnivores soon remove all the flesh so that there remains nothing
  but the bones, and even these are scattered by the wolves. The
  Indians at Tuscarora, Nevada, stated that when it was possible and
  that they should by chance meet the bony remains of any Shoshone,
  they would bury it, but in what manner I failed to discover as the
  were very reticent, and avoided giving any information regarding the
  dead. One corpse was found totally dried and shrivelled, owing to
  the dryness of the atmosphere in this region.

Capt. F. W. Beechey[60] describes a curious mode of burial among the
Esquimaux on the west coast of Alaska, which appears to be somewhat
similar to lodge burial. Figure 11, after his illustration, affords a
good idea of these burial receptacles.

  Near us there was a burying ground, which in addition to what we had
  already observed at Cape Espenburg furnished several examples of the
  manner in which this tribe of natives dispose of their dead. In some
  instances a platform was constructed of drift-wood raised about two
  feet and a quarter from the ground, upon which the body was placed,
  with its head to the westward and a double tent of drift-wood
  erected over it, the inner one with spars about seven feet long, and
  the outer one with some that were three times that length. They were
  placed close together, and at first no doubt sufficiently so to
  prevent the depredations of foxes and wolves, but they had yielded
  at last, and all the bodies, and even the hides that covered them,
  had suffered by these rapacious animals.

  In these tents of the dead there were no coffins or planks, as at
  Cape Espenburg, the bodies were dressed in a frock made of eider
  duck skins, with one of deer skin over it, and were covered with a
  sea horse hide, such as the natives use for their _baidars_.
  Suspended to the poles, and on the ground near them, were several
  Esquimaux implements, consisting of wooden trays, paddles, and a
  tamborine, which, we were informed as well as signs could convey the
  meaning of the natives, were placed there for the use of the
  deceased, who, in the next world (pointing to the western sky) ate,
  drank, and sang songs. Having no interpreter, this was all the
  information I could obtain, but the custom of placing such
  instruments around the receptacles of the dead is not unusual, and
  in all probability the Esquimaux may believe that the soul has
  enjoyments in the next 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.

    [Illustration: FIG. 12.--Burial Houses.]

    [Illustration: FIG. 11.--Eskimo lodge burial.]

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.

  The Eskimos do not as a rule bury their dead, but double the body up
  and place it on the side in a plank box which is elevated three or
  four feet from the ground and supported by four posts. The grave-box
  is often covered with painted figures of birds, fishes and animals.
  Sometimes it is wrapped in skins placed upon an elevated frame and
  covered with planks or trunks of trees so as to protect it from wild
  beasts. Upon the frame, or in the grave box are deposited the arms,
  clothing, and sometimes the domestic utensils of the deceased.
  Frequent mention is made by travelers of burial places where the
  bodies lie exposed with their heads placed towards the north.

Frederic Whymper[64] describes the burial boxes of the Kalosh of that

  Their grave boxes or tombs are interesting. They contain only the
  ashes of the dead. These people invariably burn the deceased. On one
  of the boxes I saw a number of faces painted, long tresses of human
  hair depending therefrom. Each head represented a victim of the
  (happily) deceased one’s ferocity. In his day he was doubtless more
  esteemed than if he had never harmed a fly. All their graves are
  much ornamented with carved and painted faces and other devices.

W. H. Dall,[65] well known as one of the most experienced and careful of
American Ethnologic observers, describes the burial boxes of the Innuits
of Unalaklik, Innuits of Yuka, and Ingaliks of Ulukuk as follows: Figs.
13 and 14 are after his illustrations in the volume noted.

    [Illustration: FIG. 13.--Innuit Grave.]


  The usual fashion is to place the body doubled up on its side in a
  box of plank hewed out of spruce logs and about four feet long. This
  is elevated several feet above the ground on four posts which
  project above the coffin or box. The sides are often painted with
  red chalk in figures of fur animals, birds, and fishes. According to
  the wealth of the dead man, a number of articles which belonged to
  him are attached to the coffin or strewed around it; some of them
  have kyaks, bows and arrows, hunting implements, snow-shoes, or even
  kettles, around the grave or fastened to it; and almost invariably
  the wooden dish, or “kantág,” from which the deceased was accustomed
  to eat, is hung on one of the posts.

    [Illustration: FIG. 14.--Ingalik grave.]


  The dead are enclosed above ground in a box in the manner previously
  described. The annexed sketch shows the form of the sarcophagus,
  which, in this case, is ornamented with snow-shoes, a reel for
  seal-lines, a fishing-rod, and a wooden dish or kantág. The latter
  is found with every grave, and usually one is placed in the box with
  the body. Sometimes a part of the property of the dead person is
  placed in the coffin or about it; occasionally the whole is thus
  disposed of. Generally the furs, possessions, and clothing (except
  such as has been worn) are divided among the nearer relatives of the
  dead, or remain in possession of his family if he has one; such
  clothing, household utensils, and weapons as the deceased had in
  daily use are almost invariably enclosed in his coffin. If there are
  many deaths about the same time, or an epidemic occurs, everything
  belonging to the dead is destroyed. The house in which a death
  occurs is always deserted and usually destroyed. In order to avoid
  this, it is not uncommon to take the sick person out of the house
  and put him in a tent to die. A woman’s coffin may be known by the
  kettles and other feminine utensils about it. There is no
  distinction between the sexes in method of burial. On the outside of
  the coffin, figures are usually drawn in red ochre. Figures of fur
  animals usually indicate that the dead person was a good trapper; if
  seal or deer skin, his proficiency as a hunter; representation of
  parkies that he was wealthy; the manner of his death is also
  occasionally indicated. For four days after a death the women in the
  village do no sewing; for five days the men do not cut wood with an
  axe. The relatives of the dead must not seek birds’ eggs on the
  overhanging cliffs for a year, or their feet will slip from under
  them and they will be dashed to pieces. No mourning is worn or
  indicated, except by cutting the hair. Women sit and watch the body,
  chanting a mournful refrain until he is interred. They seldom
  suspect that others have brought the death about by shamánism, as
  the Indians almost invariably do.

  At the end of a year from the death, a festival is given, presents
  are made to those who assisted in making the coffin, and the period
  of mourning is over. Their grief seldom seems deep but they indulge
  for a long time in wailing for the dead at intervals. I have seen
  several women who refused to take a second husband, and had remained
  single in spite of repeated offers for many years.


  As we drew near, we heard a low, wailing chant, and Mikála, one of
  my men, informed me that it was women lamenting for the dead. On
  landing, I saw several Indians hewing out the box in which the dead
  are placed. * * * The body lay on its side on a deer skin, the heels
  were lashed to the small of the back, and the head bent forward on
  the chest so that his coffin needed to be only about four feet long.


We may now pass to what may be called aerial sepulture proper, the most
common examples of which are tree and scaffold burial, quite extensively
practiced even at the present time. From what can be learned the choice
of this mode depends greatly on the facilities present, where timber
abounds, trees being used, if absent, scaffolds being employed.

From William J. Cleveland, of the Spotted Tail Agency, Nebraska, has
been received a most interesting account of the mortuary customs of the
Brulé or Teton Sioux, who belong to the Lakotah alliance. They are
called _Sicaugu_, in the Indian tongue _Seechaugas_, or the “burned
thigh” people. The narrative is given in its entirety, not only on
account of its careful attention to details, but from its known
truthfulness of description. It relates to tree and scaffold burial.


  Though some few of this tribe now lay their dead in rude boxes,
  either burying them when implements for digging can be had, or, when
  they have no means of making a grave, placing them on top of the
  ground on some hill or other slight elevation, yet this is done in
  imitation of the whites, and their general custom, as a people,
  probably does not differ in any essential way from that of their
  forefathers for many generations in the past. In disposing of the
  dead, they wrap the body tightly in blankets or robes (sometimes
  both) wind it all over with thongs made of the hide of some animal
  and place it reclining on the back at full length, either in the
  branches of some tree or on a scaffold made for the purpose. These
  scaffolds are about eight feet high and made by planting four forked
  sticks firmly in the ground, one at each corner and then placing
  others across on top, so as to form a floor on which the body is
  securely fastened. Sometimes more than one body is placed on the
  same scaffold, though generally a separate one is made for each
  occasion. These Indians being in all things most superstitious,
  attach a kind of sacredness to these scaffolds and all the materials
  used or about the dead. This superstition is in itself sufficient to
  prevent any of their own people from disturbing the dead, and for
  one of another nation to in any wise meddle with them is considered
  an offense not too severely punished by death. The same feeling also
  prevents them from ever using old scaffolds or any of the wood which
  has been used about them, even for firewood, though the necessity
  may be very great, for fear some evil consequences will follow. It
  is also the custom, though not universally followed, when bodies
  have been for two years on the scaffolds to take them down and bury
  them under ground.

    [Illustration: FIG. 15.--Dakota Scaffold Burial.]

    [Illustration: FIG. 16.--Offering Food to the Dead.]

  All the work about winding up the dead, building the scaffold, and
  placing the dead upon it is done by women only, who, after having
  finished their labor, return and bring the men, to show them where
  the body is placed, that they may be able to find it in future.
  Valuables of all kinds, such as weapons, ornaments, pipes, &c.--in
  short, whatever the deceased valued most highly while living, and
  locks of hair cut from the heads of the mourners at his death, are
  always bound up with the body. In case the dead was a man of
  importance, or if the family could afford it, even though he were
  not, one or several horses (generally, in the former case, those
  which the departed thought most of) are shot and placed under the
  scaffold. The idea in this is that the spirit of the horse will
  accompany and be of use to his spirit in the “happy hunting
  grounds,” or, as these people express it, “the spirit land.”

  When an Indian dies, and in some cases even before death occurs, the
  friends and relatives assemble at the lodge and begin crying over
  the departed or departing one. This consists in uttering the most
  heartrending, almost hideous wails and lamentations, in which all
  join until exhausted. Then the mourning ceases for a time until some
  one starts it again, when all join in as before and keep it up until
  unable to cry longer. This is kept up until the body is removed.
  This crying is done almost wholly by women, who gather in large
  numbers on such occasions, and among them a few who are professional
  mourners. These are generally old women and go whenever a person is
  expected to die, to take the leading part in the lamentations,
  knowing that they will be well paid at the distribution of goods
  which follows. As soon as death takes place, the body is dressed by
  the women in the best garments and blankets obtainable, new ones if
  they can be afforded. The crowd gathered near continue wailing
  piteously, and from time to time cut locks of hair from their own
  heads with knives, and throw them on the dead body. Those who wish
  to show their grief most strongly, cut themselves in various places,
  generally in the legs and arms, with their knives or pieces of
  flint, more commonly the latter, causing the blood to flow freely
  over their persons. This custom is followed to a less degree by the

  A body is seldom kept longer than one day as, besides the desire to
  get the dead out of sight, the fear that the disease which caused
  the death will communicate itself to others of the family causes
  them to hasten the disposition of it as soon as they are certain
  that death has actually taken place.

  Until the body is laid away the mourners eat nothing. After that is
  done, connected with which there seems to be no particular ceremony,
  the few women who attend to it return to the lodge and a
  distribution is made among them and others, not only of the
  remaining property of the deceased, but of all the possessions, even
  to the lodge itself of the family to which he belonged. This custom
  in some cases has been carried so far as to leave the rest of the
  family not only absolutely destitute but actually naked. After
  continuing in this condition for a time, they gradually reach the
  common level again by receiving gifts from various sources.

  The received custom requires of women, near relatives of the dead,
  a strict observance of the ten days following the death, as follows:
  They are to rise at a very early hour and work unusually hard all
  day, joining in no feast, dance, game, or other diversion, eat but
  little, and retire late, that they may be deprived of the usual
  amount of sleep as of food. During this they never paint themselves,
  but at various times go to the top of some hill and bewail the dead
  in loud cries and lamentations for hours together. After the ten
  days have expired they paint themselves again and engage in the
  usual amusements of the people as before. The men are expected to
  mourn and fast for one day and then go on the war-path against some
  other tribe, or on some long journey alone. If he prefers, he can
  mourn and fast for two or more days and remain at home. The custom
  of placing food at the scaffold also prevails to some extent. If but
  little is placed there it is understood to be for the spirit of the
  dead, and no one is allowed to touch it. If much is provided, it is
  done with the intention that those of the same sex and age as the
  deceased shall meet there and consume it. If the dead be a little
  girl, the young girls meet and eat what is provided; if it be a man,
  then men assemble for the same purpose. The relatives never mention
  the name of the dead.


  Still another custom, though at the present day by no means
  generally followed, is still observed to some extent among them.
  This is called _wanagee yuhapee_, or “keeping the ghost.” A little
  of the hair from the head of the deceased being preserved is bound
  up in calico and articles of value until the roll is about two feet
  long and ten inches or more in diameter, when it is placed in a case
  made of hide handsomely ornamented with various designs in different
  colored paints. When the family is poor, however, they may
  substitute for this case blue or scarlet blanket or cloth. The roll
  is then swung lengthwise between two supports made of sticks, placed
  thus × in front of a lodge which has been set apart for the purpose.
  In this lodge are gathered presents of all kinds, which are given
  out when a sufficient quantity is obtained. It is often a year and
  sometimes several years before this distribution is made. During all
  this time the roll containing the hair of the deceased is left
  undisturbed in front of the lodge. The gifts as they are brought in
  are piled in the back part of the lodge, and are not to be touched
  until given out. No one but men and boys are admitted to the lodge
  unless it be a wife of the deceased, who may go in if necessary very
  early in the morning. The men sit inside, as they choose, to smoke,
  eat, and converse. As they smoke they empty the ashes from their
  pipes in the center of the lodge, and they, too, are left
  undisturbed until after the distribution. When they eat, a portion
  is always placed first under the roll outside for the spirit of the
  deceased. No one is allowed to take this unless a large quantity is
  so placed, in which case it may be eaten by any persons actually in
  need of food, even though strangers to the dead. When the proper
  time comes the friends of the deceased and all to whom presents are
  to be given are called together to the lodge and the things are
  given out by the man in charge. Generally this is some near relative
  of the departed. The roll is now undone and small locks of the hair
  distributed with the other presents, which ends the ceremony.

  Sometimes this “keeping the ghost” is done several times, and it is
  then looked upon as a repetition of the burial or putting away of
  the dead. During all the time before the distribution of the hair,
  the lodge, as well as the roll, is looked upon as in a manner
  sacred, but after that ceremony it becomes common again and may be
  used for any ordinary purpose. No relative or near friend of the
  dead wishes to retain anything in his possession that belonged to
  him while living, or to see, hear, or own anything which will remind
  him of the departed. Indeed, the leading idea in all their burial
  customs in the laying away with the dead their most valuable
  possessions, the giving to others what is left of his and the family
  property, the refusal to mention his name, &c., is to put out of
  mind as soon and as effectual as possible the memory of the

  From what has been said, however, it will be seen that they believe
  each person to have a spirit which continues to live after the death
  of the body. They have no idea of a future life in the body, but
  believe that after death their spirits will meet and recognize the
  spirits of their departed friends in the spirit land. They deem it
  essential to their happiness here, however, to destroy as far as
  practicable their recollection of the dead. They frequently speak of
  death as a sleep, and of the dead as asleep or having gone to sleep
  at such a time. These customs are gradually losing their hold upon
  them, and are much less generally and strictly observed than

Figure 15 furnishes a good example of scaffold burial. Figure 16,
offering of food and drink to the dead. Figure 17, depositing the dead
upon the scaffold.

    [Illustration: FIG. 17.--Depositing the Corpse.]

    [Illustration: FIG. 18.--Tree-burial.]

A. Delano,[66] mentions as follows an example of tree-burial which he
noticed in Nebraska.

  * * * During the afternoon we passed a Sioux burying-ground, if I
  may be allowed to use an Irishism. In a hackberry tree, elevated
  about twenty feet from the ground, a kind of rack was made of broken
  tent poles, and the body (for there was but one) was placed upon it,
  wrapped in his blanket, and a tanned buffalo skin, with his tin cup,
  moccasins, and various things which he had used in life, were placed
  upon his body, for his use in the land of spirits.

Figure 18 represents tree-burial, from a sketch drawn by my friend Dr.
Washington Matthews, United States Army.

John Young, Indian agent at the Blackfeet Agency, Montana, sends the
following account of tree-burial among this tribe:

  Their manner of burial has always been (until recently) to inclose
  the dead body in robes or blankets, the best owned by the departed,
  closely sewed up, and then, if a male or chief, fasten in the
  branches of a tree so high as to be beyond the reach of wolves, and
  then left to slowly waste in the dry winds. If the body was that of
  a squaw or child, it was thrown into the underbrush or jungle, where
  it soon became the prey of the wild animals. The weapons, pipes,
  &c., of men were inclosed, and the small toys of children with them.
  The ceremonies were equally barbarous, the relatives cutting off,
  according to the depth of their grief, one or more joints of the
  fingers, divesting themselves of clothing even in the coldest
  weather, and filling the air with their lamentations. All the sewing
  up and burial process was conducted by the squaws, as the men would
  not touch nor remain in proximity to a dead body.

The following account of scaffold burial among the Gros Ventres and
Mandans of Dakota is furnished by E. H. Alden, United States Indian
agent at Fort Berthold:

  The Gros Ventres and Mandans never bury in the ground, but always on
  a scaffold, made of four posts about eight feet high, on which the
  box is placed, or, if no box is used, the body wrapped in red or
  blue cloth if able, or, if not, a blanket of cheapest white cloth,
  the tools and weapons being placed directly under the body, and
  there they remain forever, no Indian ever daring to touch one of
  them. It would be bad medicine to touch the dead or anything so
  placed belonging to him. Should the body by any means fall to the
  ground, it is never touched or replaced on the scaffold. As soon as
  one dies he is immediately buried, sometimes within an hour, and the
  friends begin howling and wailing as the process of interment goes
  on, and continue mourning day and night around the grave, without
  food sometimes three or four days. Those who mourn are always paid
  for it in some way by the other friends of the deceased, and those
  who mourn the longest are paid the most. They also show their grief
  and affection for the dead by a fearful cutting of their own bodies,
  sometimes only in part, and sometimes all over their whole flesh,
  and this sometimes continues for weeks. Their hair, which is worn in
  long braids, is also cut off to show their mourning. They seem proud
  of their mutilations. A young man who had just buried his mother
  came in boasting of, and showing his mangled legs.

According to Thomas L. McKenney,[67] the Chippewas of Fond du Lac, Wis.,
buried on scaffolds, inclosing the corpse in a box. The narrative is as

  One mode of burying the dead among the Chippewas is to place the
  coffin or box containing their remains on two cross-pieces, nailed
  or tied with wattap to four poles. The poles are about ten feet
  high. They plant near these posts the wild hop or some other kind of
  running vine, which spreads over and covers the coffin. I saw one of
  these on the island, and as I have described it. It was the coffin
  of a child about four years old. It was near the lodge of the sick
  girl. I have a sketch of it. I asked the chief why his people
  disposed of their dead in that way. He answered they did not like to
  put them out of their sight so soon by putting them under ground.
  Upon a platform they could see the box that contained their remains,
  and that was a comfort to them.

Figure 19 is copied from McKenney’s picture of this form of burial.

Keating[68] thus describes burial scaffolds:

  On these scaffolds, which are from eight to ten feet high, corpses
  were deposited in a box made from part of a broken canoe. Some hair
  was suspended, which we at first mistook for a scalp, but our guide
  informed us that these were locks of hair torn from their heads by
  the relatives to testify their grief. In the center, between the
  four posts which supported the scaffold, a stake was planted in the
  ground, it was about six feet high, and bore an imitation of human
  figures, five of which had a design of a petticoat indicating them
  to be females; the rest amounting to seven, were naked and were
  intended for male figures; of the latter four were headless, showing
  that they had been slain, the three other male figures were
  unmutilated, but held a staff in their hand, which, as our guide
  informed us designated that they were slaves. The post, which is an
  usual accompaniment to the scaffold that supports a warrior’s
  remains, does not represent the achievements of the deceased, but
  those of the warriors that assembled near his remains danced the
  dance of the post, and related their martial exploits. A number of
  small bones of animals were observed in the vicinity, which were
  probably left there after a feast celebrated in honor of the dead.

  The boxes in which the corpses were placed are so short that a man
  could not lie in them extended at full length, but in a country
  where boxes and boards are scarce this is overlooked. After the
  corpses have remained a certain time exposed, they are taken down
  and burned. Our guide, Renville, related to us that he had been a
  witness to an interesting, though painful, circumstance that
  occurred here. An Indian who resided on the Mississippi, hearing
  that his son had died at this spot, came up in a canoe to take
  charge of the remains and convey them down the river to his place of
  abode but on his arrival he found that the corpse had already made
  such progress toward decomposition as rendered it impossible for it
  to be removed. He then undertook with a few friends, to clean off
  the bones. All the flesh was scraped off and thrown into the stream,
  the bones were carefully collected into his canoe, and subsequently
  carried down to his residence.

Interesting and valuable from the extreme attention paid to details is
the following account of a burial case discovered by Dr. George M.
Sternberg, United States Army, and furnished by Dr. George A. Otis,
United States Army, Army Medical Museum, Washington, D.C. It relates to
the Cheyennes of Kansas.

  The case was found, Brevet Major Sternberg states, on the banks of
  Walnut Creek, Kansas, elevated about eight feet from the ground by
  four notched poles, which were firmly planted in the ground. The
  unusual care manifested in the preparation of the case induced Dr.
  Sternberg to infer that some important chief was inclosed in it.
  Believing that articles of interest were inclosed with the body, and
  that their value would be enhanced if the were received at the
  Museum as left by the Indians, Dr. Sternberg determined to send the
  case unopened.

    [Illustration: FIG. 19.--Chippewa Scaffold Burial.]

  I had the case opened this morning and an inventory made of the
  contents. The case consisted of a cradle of interlaced branches of
  white willow, about six feet long, three feet broad, and three feet
  high, with a flooring of buffalo thongs arranged as a net-work. This
  cradle was securely fastened by strips of buffalo-hide to four poles
  of ironwood and cottonwood, about twelve feet in length. These poles
  doubtless rested upon the forked extremities of the vertical poles
  described by Dr. Sternberg. The cradle was wrapped in two buffalo
  robes of large size and well preserved. On removing these an
  aperture eighteen inches square was found at the middle of the
  right-side of the cradle or basket. Within appeared other buffalo
  robes folded about the remains, and secured by gaudy-colored sashes.
  Five robes were successively removed, making seven in all. Then we
  came to a series of new blankets folded about the remains. There
  were five in all--two scarlet, two blue, and one white. These being
  removed, the next wrappings consisted of a striped white and gray
  sack, and of a United States Infantry overcoat, like the other
  coverings nearly new. We had now come apparently upon the immediate
  envelope of the remains, which it was now evident must be those of a
  child. These consisted of three robes, with hoods very richly
  ornamented with bead-work. These robes or cloaks were of
  buffalo-calf skin about four feet in length, elaborately decorated
  with bead-work in stripes. The outer was covered with rows of blue
  and white bead-work, the second was green and yellow, and the third
  blue and red. All were further adorned by spherical brass bells
  attached all about the borders by strings of beads.

  The remains with their wrappings lay upon a matting similar to that
  used by the Navajo and other Indians of the southern plains, and
  upon a pillow of dirty rags, in which were folded a bag of red
  paint, bits of antelope skin, bunches of straps, buckles, &c. The
  three bead-work hooded cloaks were now removed, and then we
  successively unwrapped a gray woolen double shawl, five yards of
  blue cassimere, six yards of red calico, and six yards of brown
  calico, and finally disclosed the remains of a child, probably about
  a year old, in an advanced stage of decomposition. The cadaver had a
  beaver-cap ornamented with disks of copper containing the bones of
  the cranium, which had fallen apart. About the neck were long wampum
  necklaces, with _Dentalium_, _Unionidæ_, and _Auriculæ_,
  interspersed with beads. There were also strings of the pieces of
  _Haliotis_ from the Gulf of California, so valued by the Indians on
  this side of the Rocky Mountains. The body had been elaborately
  dressed for burial, the costume consisting of a red-flannel cloak,
  a red tunic, and frock-leggins adorned with bead-work, yarn
  stockings of red and black worsted, and deer-skin beadwork
  moccasins. With the remains were numerous trinkets, a porcelain
  image, a China vase, strings of beads, several toys, a pair of
  mittens, a fur collar, a pouch of the skin of _Putorius vison_, &c.

Another extremely interesting account of scaffold-burial, furnished by
Dr. L. S. Turner, United States Army, Fort Peck, Mont., and relating to
the Sioux, is here given entire, as it refers to certain curious
mourning observances which have prevailed to a great extent over the
entire globe:

  The Dakotas bury their dead in the tops of trees when limbs can be
  found sufficiently horizontal to support scaffolding on which to lay
  the body, but as such growth is not common in Dakota, the more
  general practice is to lay them upon scaffolds from seven to ten
  feet high and out of the reach of carnivorous animals, as the wolf.
  These scaffolds are constructed upon four posts set into the ground
  something after the manner of the rude drawing which I inclose. Like
  all labors of a domestic kind, the preparation for burial is left to
  the women, usually the old women. The work begins as soon as life is
  extinct. The face, neck, and hands are thickly painted with
  vermilion, or a species of red earth found in various portions of
  the Territory when the vermilion of the traders cannot be had. The
  clothes and personal trinkets of the deceased ornament the body.
  When blankets are available, it is then wrapped in one, all parts of
  the body being completely enveloped. Around this a dressed skin of
  buffalo is then securely wrapped, with the flesh side out, and the
  whole securely bound with thongs of skins, either raw or dressed;
  and for ornament, when available, a bright-red blanket envelopes all
  other coverings, and renders the general scene more picturesque
  until dimmed by time and the elements. As soon as the scaffold is
  ready, the body is borne by the women, followed by the female
  relatives, to the place of final deposit, and left prone in its
  secure wrappings upon this airy bed of death. This ceremony is
  accompanied with lamentations wild and weird that one must see and
  hear in order to appreciate. If the deceased be a brave, it is
  customary to place upon or beneath the scaffold a few buffalo-heads
  which time has rendered dry and inoffensive; and if he has been
  brave in war some of his implements of battle are placed on the
  scaffold or securely tied to its timbers. If the deceased has been a
  chief, or a soldier related to his chief, it is not uncommon to slay
  his favorite pony and place the body beneath the scaffold, under the
  superstition, I suppose, that the horse goes with the man. As
  illustrating the propensity to provide the dead with the things used
  while living, I may mention that some years ago I loaned to an old
  man a delft urinal for the use of his son, a young man who was
  slowly dying of a wasting disease. I made him promise faithfully
  that he would return it as soon as his son was done using it. Not
  long afterwards the urinal graced the scaffold which held the
  remains of the dead warrior, and as it has not to this day been
  returned I presume the young man is not done using it.

  The mourning customs of the Dakotas, though few of them appear to be
  of universal observance, cover considerable ground. The hair, never
  cut under other circumstances, is cropped off even with the neck,
  and the top of the head and forehead, and sometimes nearly the whole
  body, are smeared with a species of white earth resembling chalk,
  moistened with water. The lodge, teepee, and all the family
  possessions except the few shabby articles of apparel worn by the
  mourners, are given away and the family left destitute. Thus far the
  custom is universal or nearly so. The wives, mother, and sisters of
  a deceased man, on the first, second, or third day after the
  funeral, frequently throw off their moccasins and leggings and gash
  their legs with their butcher-knives, and march through the camp and
  to the place of burial with bare and bleeding extremities, while
  they chant or wail their dismal songs of mourning. The men likewise
  often gash themselves in many places, and usually seek the solitude
  of the higher point on the distant prairie, where they remain
  fasting, smoking, and wailing out their lamentations for two or
  three days. A chief who had lost a brother once came to me after
  three or four days of mourning in solitude almost exhausted from
  hunger and bodily anguish. He had gashed the outer side of both
  lower extremities at intervals of a few inches all the way from the
  ankles to the top of the hips. His wounds had inflamed from
  exposure, and were suppurating freely. He assured me that he had not
  slept for several days or nights. I dressed his wounds with a
  soothing ointment, and gave him a full dose of an effective anodyne,
  after which he slept long and refreshingly, and awoke to express his
  gratitude and shake my hand in a very cordial and sincere manner.
  When these harsher inflictions are not resorted to, the mourners
  usually repair daily for a few days to the place of burial, toward
  the hour of sunset, and chant their grief until it is apparently
  assuaged by its own expression. This is rarely kept up for more than
  four or five days, but is occasionally resorted to, at intervals,
  for weeks, or even months, according to the mood of the bereft.
  I have seen few things in life so touching as the spectacle of an
  old father going daily to the grave of his child, while the shadows
  are lengthening, and pouring out his grief in wails that would move
  a demon, until his figure melts with the gray twilight, when, silent
  and solemn, he returns to his desolate family. The weird effect of
  this observance is sometimes heightened, when the deceased was a
  grown-up son, by the old man kindling a little fire near the head of
  the scaffold, and varying his lamentations with smoking in silence.
  The foregoing is drawn from my memory of personal observances during
  a period of more than six years’ constant intercourse with several
  subdivisions of the Dakota Indians. There may be much which memory
  has failed to recall upon a brief consideration.

    [Illustration: FIG. 20.--Scarification at Burial.]

Figure 20 represents scarification as a form of grief-expression for the

Perhaps a brief review of Dr. Turner’s narrative may not be deemed
inappropriate here.

Supplying food to the dead is a custom which is known to be of great
antiquity; in some instances, as among the ancient Romans, it appears to
have been a sacrificial offering, for it usually accompanied cremation,
and was not confined to food alone, for spices, perfumes, oil, &c., were
thrown upon the burning pile. In addition to this, articles supposed or
known to have been agreeable to the deceased were also consumed. The
Jews did the same, and in our own time the Chinese, Caribs, and many of
the tribes of North American Indians followed these customs. The cutting
of hair as a mourning observance is of very great antiquity, and Tegg
relates that among the ancients whole cities and countries were shaved
(_sic_) when a great man died. The Persians not only shaved themselves
on such occasions, but extended the same process to their domestic
animals, and Alexander, at the death of Hephæstin, not only cut off the
manes of his horses and mules, but took down the battlements from the
city walls, that even towns might seem in mourning and look bald.
Scarifying and mutilating the body has prevailed from a remote period of
time, having possibly replaced, in the process of evolution, to a
certain extent, the more barbarous practice of absolute personal
sacrifice. In later days, among our Indians, human sacrifices have taken
place to only a limited extent, but formerly many victims were
immolated, for at the funerals of the chiefs of the Florida and Carolina
Indians all the male relatives and wives were slain, for the reason,
according to Gallatin, that the hereditary dignity of Chief or Great Sun
descended, as usual, by the female line, and he, as well as all other
members of his clan, whether male or female, could marry only persons of
an inferior clan. To this day mutilation of the person among some tribes
of Indians is usual. The sacrifice of the favorite horse or horses is by
no means peculiar to our Indians, for it was common among the Romans,
and possibly even among the men of the Reindeer period, for at Solutré,
in France, the writer saw horses’ bones exhumed from the graves examined
in 1873. The writer has frequently conversed with Indians upon this
subject, and they have invariably informed him that when horses were
slain great care was taken to select the poorest of the band.

Tree-burial was not uncommon among the nations of antiquity, for the
Colchians enveloped their dead in sacks of skin and hung them to trees;
the ancient Tartars and Scythians did the same. With regard to the use
of scaffolds and trees as places of deposit for the dead, it seems
somewhat curious that the tribes who formerly occupied the eastern
portion of our continent were not in the habit of burying in this way,
which, from the abundance of timber, would have been a much easier
method than the ones in vogue, while the western tribes, living in
sparsely-wooded localities, preferred the other. If we consider that the
Indians were desirous of preserving their dead as long as possible, the
fact of their dead being placed in trees and scaffolds would lead to the
supposition that those living on the plains were well aware of the
desiccating property of the dry air of that arid region. This
desiccation would pass for a kind of mummification.

The particular part of the mourning ceremonies, which consisted in loud
cries and lamentations, may have had in early periods of time a greater
significance than that of a mere expression of grief or woe, and on this
point Bruhier[69] seems quite positive, his interpretation being that
such cries were intended to prevent premature burial. He gives some
interesting examples, which may be admitted here:

  The Caribs lament loudly, their wailings being interspersed with
  comical remarks and questions to the dead as to why he preferred to
  leave this world, having everything to make life comfortable. They
  place the corpse on a little seat in a ditch or grave four or five
  feet deep, and for ten days they bring food, requesting the corpse
  to eat. Finally, being convinced that the dead will neither eat nor
  return to life, they throw the food on the head of the corpse and
  fill up the grave.

When one died among the Romans, the nearest relatives embraced the body,
closed the eyes and month, and when one was about to die received the
last words and sighs, and then loudly called the name of the dead,
finally bidding an eternal adieu. This ceremony of calling the deceased
by name was known as the _conclamation_, and was a custom anterior even
to the foundation of Rome. One dying away from home was immediately
removed thither, in order that this might be performed with greater
propriety. In Picardy, as late as 1743, the relatives threw themselves
on the corpse and with loud cries called it by name, and up to 1855 the
Moravians of Pennsylvania, at the death of one of their number,
performed mournful musical airs on brass instruments from the village
church steeple and again at the grave[70*]. This custom, however, was
probably a remnant of the ancient funeral observances, and not to
prevent premature burial, or, perhaps, was intended to scare away bad

W. L. Hardisty[71] gives a curious example of log-burial in trees,
relating to the Loucheux of British America:

  They inclose the body in a neatly-hollowed piece of wood, and secure
  it to two or more trees, about six feet from the ground. A log about
  eight feet long is first split in two, and each of the parts
  carefully hollowed out to the required size. The body is then
  inclosed and the two pieces well lashed together, preparatory to
  being finally secured, as before stated, to the trees.

The American Indians are by no means the only savages employing
scaffolds as places of deposit for the dead, for Wood[72] gives a number
of examples of this mode of burial.

    [Illustration: FIG. 21.--Australian Scaffold Burial.]

    [Illustration: FIG. 22.--Preparing the Dead.]

  In some parts of Australia the natives, instead of consuming the
  body by fire, or hiding it in caves or in graves, make it a
  peculiarly conspicuous object. Should a tree grow favorably for
  their purpose, they will employ it as the final resting place for
  the dead body. Lying in its canoe coffin, and so covered over with
  leaves and grass that its shape is quite disguised, the body is
  lifted into a convenient fork of the tree and lashed to the boughs,
  by native ropes. No farther care is taken of it, and if in process
  of time it should be blown out of the tree, no one will take the
  trouble of replacing it.

  Should no tree be growing in the selected spot, an artificial
  platform is made for the body, by fixing the ends of stout branches
  in the ground and connecting them at their tops by smaller
  horizontal branches. Such are the curious tombs which are
  represented in the illustration. * * * These strange tombs are
  mostly placed among the reeds, so that nothing can be more mournful
  than the sound of the wind as it shakes the reeds below the branch
  in which the corpse is lying. The object of this aerial tomb is
  evident enough, namely, to protect the corpse from the dingo, or
  native dog. That the ravens and other carrion-eating birds should
  make a banquet upon the body of the dead man does not seem to
  trouble the survivors in the least, and it often happens that the
  traveler is told by the croak of the disturbed ravens that the body
  of a dead Australian is lying in the branches over his head.

  The aerial tombs are mostly erected for the bodies of old men who
  have died a natural death; but when a young warrior has fallen in
  battle the body is treated in a very different manner. A moderately
  high platform is erected, and upon this is seated the body of the
  dead warrior with the face toward the rising sun. The legs are
  crossed and the arms kept extended by means of sticks. The fat is
  then removed, and after being mixed with red ochre is rubbed over
  the body, which has previously been carefully denuded of hair, as is
  done in the ceremony of initiation. The legs and arms are covered
  with zebra-like stripes of red, white, and yellow, and the weapons
  of the dead man are laid across his lap.

  The body being thus arranged, fires are lighted under the platform,
  and kept up for ten days or more, during the whole of which time the
  friends and mourners remain by the body, and are not permitted to
  speak. Sentinels relieve each other at appointed intervals, their
  duty being to see that the fires are not suffered to go out, and to
  keep the flies away by waving leafy boughs or bunches of emu
  feathers. When a body has been treated in this manner it becomes
  hard and mummy-like, and the strongest point is that the wild dogs
  will not touch it after it has been so long smoked. It remains
  sitting on the platform for two months or so, and is then taken down
  and buried, with the exception of the skull, which is made into a
  drinking-cup for the nearest relative. * * *

This mode of mummifying resembles somewhat that already described as the
process by which the Virginia kings were preserved from decomposition.

Figs. 21 and 22 represent the Australian burials described, and are
after the original engravings in Wood’s work. The one representing
scaffold-burial resembles greatly the scaffolds of our own Indians.

With regard to the use of scaffolds as places of deposit for the dead,
the following theories by Dr. W. Gardner, United States Army, are given:

  If we come to inquire why the American aborigines placed the dead
  bodies of their relatives and friends in trees, or upon scaffolds
  resembling trees, instead of burying them in the ground, or burning
  them and preserving their ashes in urns, I think we can answer the
  inquiry by recollecting that most if not all the tribes of American
  Indians, as well as other nations of a higher civilization, believed
  that the human soul, spirit, or immortal part was of the form and
  nature of a bird, and as these are essentially arboreal in their
  habits, it is quite in keeping to suppose that the soul-bird would
  have readier access to its former home or dwelling-place if it was
  placed upon a tree or scaffold than if it was buried in the earth;
  moreover, from this lofty eyrie the souls of the dead could rest
  secure from the attacks of wolves or other profane beasts, and guard
  like sentinels the homes and hunting-grounds of their loved ones.

This statement is given because of a corroborative note in the writer’s
possession, but he is not prepared to admit it as correct without
farther investigation.


Under this heading may be placed the burials which consisted in first
depositing the bodies on scaffolds, where they were allowed to remain
for a variable length of time, after which the bones were cleaned and
deposited either in the earth or in special structures, called by
writers “bone-houses.” Roman[73] relates the following concerning the

  The following treatment of the dead is very strange. * * * As soon
  as the deceased is departed, a stage is erected (as in the annexed
  plate is represented) and the corpse is laid on it and covered with
  a bear-skin; if he be a man of note, it is decorated, and the poles
  painted red with vermillion and bear’s oil; if a child, it is put
  upon stakes set across; at this stage the relations come and weep,
  asking many questions of the corpse, such as, why he left them? did
  not his wife serve him well? was he not contented with his children?
  had he not corn enough? did not his land produce sufficient of
  everything? was he afraid of his enemies? &c., and this accompanied
  by loud howlings; the women will be there constantly, and sometimes,
  with the corrupted air and heat of the sun, faint so as to oblige
  the bystanders to carry them home; the men will also come and mourn
  in the same manner, but in the night or at other unseasonable times
  when they are least likely to be discovered.

  The stage is fenced round with poles; it remains thus a certain
  time, but not a fixed space; this is sometimes extended to three or
  four months, but seldom more than half that time. A certain set of
  venerable old Gentlemen, who wear very long nails as a
  distinguishing badge on the thumb, fore, and middle finger of each
  hand, constantly travel through the nation (when I was there I was
  told there were but five of this respectable order) that one of them
  may acquaint those concerned, of the expiration of this period,
  which is according to their own fancy; the day being come, the
  friends and relations assemble near the stage, a fire is made, and
  the respectable operator, after the body is taken down, with his
  nails tears the remaining flesh off the bones, and throws it with
  the entrails into the fire, where it is consumed; then he scrapes
  the bones and burns the scrapings likewise; the head being painted
  red with vermillion is with the rest of the bones put into a neatly
  made chest (which for a Chief is also made red) and deposited in the
  loft of a hut built for that purpose, and called bone house; each
  town has one of these; after remaining here one year or thereabouts,
  if he be a man of any note, they take the chest down, and in an
  assembly of relations and friends they weep once more over him,
  refresh the colour of the head, paint the box, and then deposit him
  to lasting oblivion.

  An enemy and one who commits suicide is buried under the earth as
  one to be directly forgotten and unworthy the above ceremonial
  obsequies and mourning.

Jones[74] quotes one of the older writers, as follows, regarding the
Natchez tribe:

  Among the Natchez the dead were either inhumed or placed in tombs.
  These tombs were located within or very near their temples. They
  rested upon four forked sticks fixed fast in the ground, and were
  raised some three feet above the earth. About eight feet long and a
  foot and a half wide, they were prepared for the reception of a
  single corpse. After the body was placed upon it, a basket-work of
  twigs was woven around and covered with mud, an opening being left
  at the head, through which food was presented to the deceased. When
  the flesh had all rotted away, the bones were taken out, placed in a
  box made of canes, and then deposited in the temple. The common dead
  were mourned and lamented for a period of three days. Those who fell
  in battle were honored with a more protracted and grievous

Bartram[75] gives a somewhat different account from Roman of burial
among the Choctaws of Carolina:

  The Chactaws pay their last duties and respect to the deceased in a
  very different manner. As soon as a person is dead, they erect a
  scaffold 18 or 20 feet high in a grove adjacent to the town, where
  they lay the corps, lightly covered with a mantle; here it is
  suffered to remain, visited and protected by the friends and
  relations, until the flesh becomes putrid, so as easily to part from
  the bones; then undertakers, who make it their business, carefully
  strip the flesh from the bones, wash and cleanse them, and when dry
  and purified by the air, having provided a curiously-wrought chest
  or coffin, fabricated of bones and splints, they place all the bones
  therein, which is deposited in the bone-house, a building erected
  for that purpose in every town; and when this house is full a
  general solemn funeral takes place; when the nearest kindred or
  friends of the deceased, on a day appointed, repair to the
  bone-house, take up the respective coffins, and, following one
  another in order of seniority, the nearest relations and connections
  attending their respective corps, and the multitude following after
  them, all as one family, with united voice of alternate allelujah
  and lamentation, slowly proceeding on to the place of general
  interment, when they place the coffins in order, forming a
  pyramid;[76*] and, lastly, cover all over with earth, which raises a
  conical hill or mount; when they return to town in order of solemn
  procession, concluding the day with a festival, which is called the
  feast of the dead.

Morgan[77] also alludes to this mode of burial:

  The body of the deceased was exposed upon a bark scaffolding erected
  upon poles or secured upon the limbs of trees, where it was left to
  waste to a skeleton. After this had been effected by the process of
  decomposition in the open air, the bones were removed either to the
  former house of the deceased, or to a small bark house by its side,
  prepared for their reception. In this manner the skeletons of the
  whole family were preserved from generation to generation by the
  filial or parental affection of the living. After the lapse of a
  number of years, or in a season of public insecurity, or on the eve
  of abandoning a settlement, it was customary to collect these
  skeletons from the whole community around and consign them to a
  common resting-place.

  To this custom, which is not confined to the Iroquois, is doubtless
  to be ascribed the burrows and bone-mounds which have been found in
  such numbers in various parts of the country. On opening these
  mounds the skeletons are usually found arranged in horizontal
  layers, a conical pyramid, those in each layer radiating from a
  common center. In other cases they are found placed promiscuously.

Dr. D. G. Brinton[78] likewise gives an account of the interment of
collected bones:

  East of the Mississippi nearly every nation was accustomed at stated
  periods--usually once in eight or ten years--to collect and clean
  the osseous remains of those of its number who had died in the
  intervening time, and inter them in one common sepulcher, lined with
  choice furs, and marked with a mound of wood, stone, or earth. Such
  is the origin of those immense tumuli filed with the mortal remains
  of nations and generations, which the antiquary, with irreverent
  curiosity, so frequently chances upon in all portions of our
  territory. Throughout Central America the same usage obtained in
  various localities, as early writers and existing monuments
  abundantly testify. Instead of interring the bones, were they those
  of some distinguished chieftain, they were deposited in the temples
  or the council-houses, usually in small chests of canes or splints.
  Such were the charnel-houses which the historians of De Soto’s
  expedition so often mention, and these are the “arks” Adair and
  other authors who have sought to trace the decent of the Indians
  from the Jews have likened to that which the ancient Israelites bore
  with them in their migration.

  A widow among the Tahkalis was obliged to carry the bones of her
  deceased husband wherever she went for four years, preserving them
  in such a casket, handsomely decorated with feathers (Rich. Arc.
  Exp., p. 200). The Caribs of the mainland adopted the custom for
  all, without exception. About a year after death the bones were
  cleaned, bleached, painted, wrapped in odorous balsams, placed in a
  wicker basket, and kept suspended from the door of their dwelling
  (Gumilla Hist. del Orinoco I., pp. 199, 202, 204). When the quantity
  of these heirlooms became burdensome they were removed to some
  inaccessible cavern and stowed away with reverential care.

George Catlin[79] describes what he calls the “Golgothas” of the

  There are several of these golgothas, or circles of twenty or thirty
  feet in diameter, and in the center of each ring or circle is a
  little mound of three feet high, on which uniformly rest two buffalo
  skulls (a male and female), and in the center of the little mound is
  erected “a medicine pole,” of about twenty feet high, supporting
  many curious articles of mystery and superstition, which they
  suppose have the power of guarding and protecting this sacred

  Here, then, to this strange place do these people again resort to
  evince their further affections for the dead, not in groans and
  lamentations, however, for several years have cured the anguish, but
  fond affection and endearments are here renewed, and conversations
  are here held and cherished with the dead. Each one of these skulls
  is placed upon a bunch of wild sage, which has been pulled and
  placed under it. The wife knows, by some mark or resemblance, the
  skull of her husband or her child which lies in this group, and
  there seldom passes a day that she does not visit it with a dish of
  the best-cooked food that her wigwam affords, which she sets before
  the skull at night, and returns for the dish in the morning. As soon
  as it is discovered that the sage on which the skull rests is
  beginning to decay, the woman cuts a fresh bunch and places the
  skull carefully upon it, removing that which was under it.

  Independent of the above-named duties, which draw the women to this
  spot, they visit it from inclination, and linger upon it to hold
  converse and company with the dead. There is scarcely an hour in a
  pleasant day but more or less of these women may be seen sitting or
  lying by the skull of their child or husband, talking to it in the
  most pleasant and endearing language that they can use (as they were
  wont to do in former days), and seemingly getting an answer back.

    [Illustration: FIG. 23.--Canoe Burial.]

From these accounts it may be seen that the peculiar customs which have
been described by the authors cited were not confined to any special
tribe or area of country, although they do not appear to have prevailed
among the Indians of the northwest coast, so far as known.


The next mode of burial to be remarked is that of deposit in canoes,
either supported on posts, on the ground, or swung from trees, and is
common only to the tribes inhabiting the northwest coast.

The first example given relates to the Chinooks of Washington Territory,
and may be found in Swan.[80]

  In this instance old Cartumhays, and old Mahar, a celebrated doctor,
  were the chief mourners, probably from being the smartest scamps
  among the relatives. Their duty was to prepare the canoe for the
  reception of the body. One of the largest and best the deceased had
  owned was then hauled into the woods, at some distance back of the
  lodge, after having been first thoroughly washed and scrubbed. Two
  large square holes were then cut in the bottom, at the bow and
  stern, for the twofold purpose of rendering the canoe unfit for
  further use, and therefore less likely to excite the cupidity of the
  whites (who are but too apt to help themselves to these depositories
  for the dead), and also to allow any rain to pass off readily.

  When the canoe was ready, the corpse, wrapped in blankets, was
  brought out, and laid in it on mats previously spread. All the
  wearing apparel was next put in beside the body, together with her
  trinkets, beads, little baskets, and various trifles she had prized.
  More blankets were then covered over the body, and mats smoothed
  over all. Next, a small canoe, which fitted into the large one, was
  placed, bottom up, over the corpse, and the whole then covered with
  mats. The canoe was then raised up and placed on two parallel bars,
  elevated four or five feet from the ground, and supported by being
  inserted through holes mortised at the top of four stout posts
  previously firmly planted in the earth. Around these holes were then
  hung blankets, and all the cooking utensils of the deceased, pots,
  kettles, and pans, each with a hole punched through it, and all her
  crockery-ware, every piece of which was first cracked or broken, to
  render it useless; and then, when all was done, they left her to
  remain for one year, when the bones would be buried in a box in the
  earth directly under the canoe; but that, with all its appendages,
  would never be molested, but left to go to gradual decay.

  They regard these canoes precisely as we regard coffins, and would
  no more think of using one than we would of using our own graveyard
  relics; and it is, in their view, as much of a desecration for a
  white man to meddle or interfere with these, to them, sacred
  mementoes, as it would be to us to have an Indian open the graves of
  our relatives. Many thoughtless white men have done this, and
  animosities have been thus occasioned.

Figure 23 represents this mode of burial.

From a number of other examples, the following, relating to the Twanas,
and furnished by the Rev. M. Eells, missionary to the Skokomish Agency,
Washington Territory, is selected:

  The deceased was a woman about thirty or thirty-five years of age,
  dead of consumption. She died in the morning, and in the afternoon I
  went to the house to attend the funeral. She had then been placed in
  a Hudson’s Bay Company’s box for a coffin, which was about 3½
  feet long, 1½ wide, and 1½ high. She was very poor when she died,
  owing to her disease, or she could not have been put in this box.
  A fire was burning near by, where a large number of her things had
  been consumed, and the rest was in three boxes near the coffin. Her
  mother sang the mourning song, sometimes with others, and often
  saying, “My daughter, my daughter, why did you die?” and similar
  words. The burial did not take place until the next day, and I was
  invited to go. It was an aerial burial in a canoe. The canoe was
  about 25 feet long. The posts, of old Indian layered boards, were
  about a foot wide. Holes were cut in those, in which boards were
  placed, on which the canoe rested. One thing I noticed while this
  was done which was new to me, but the significance of which I did
  not learn. As fast as the holes were cut in the posts, green leaves
  were gathered and placed over the holes until the posts were put in
  the ground. The coffin-box and the three others containing her
  things were placed in the canoe and a roof of boards made over the
  central part, which was entirely covered with white cloth. The head
  part and the foot part of her bedstead were then nailed on to the
  posts, which front the water, and a dress nailed on each of these.
  After pronouncing the benediction, all left the hull and went to the
  beach except her father, mother, and brother, who remained ten or
  fifteen minutes, pounding on the canoe and mourning. They then came
  down and made a present to those persons who were there--a gun to
  one, a blanket to each of two or three others, and a dollar and a
  half to each of the rest, including myself, there being about
  fifteen persons present. Three or four of them then made short
  speeches, and we came home.

    [Illustration: FIG. 24.--Twana Canoe-Burial.]

  The reason why she was buried thus is said to be because she is a
  prominent woman in the tribe. In about nine months it is expected
  that there will be a “_pot-latch_” or distribution of money near
  this place, and as each tribe shall come they will send a delegation
  of two or three men, who will carry a present and leave it at the
  grave; soon after that shall be done she will be buried in the
  ground. Shortly after her death both her father and mother cut off
  their hair as a sign of their grief.

Figure 24 is from a sketch kindly furnished by Mr. Eells, and represents
the burial mentioned in his narrative.

The Clallams and Twanas, an allied tribe, have not always followed
canoe-burial, as may be seen from the following account, also written by
Mr. Eells, who gives the reasons why the original mode of disposing of
the dead was abandoned. It is extremely interesting, and characterized
by painstaking attention to detail:

  I divide this subject into five periods, varying according to time,
  though they are somewhat intermingled.

  (_a_) There are places where skulls and skeletons have been plowed
  up or still remain in the ground and near together, in such a way as
  to give good ground for the belief which is held by white residents
  in the region, that formerly persons were buried in the ground and
  in irregular cemeteries. I know of such places in Duce Waillops
  among the Twanas, and at Dungeness and Port Angeles among the
  Clallams. These graves were made so long ago that the Indians of the
  present day profess to have no knowledge as to who is buried in
  them, except that they believe, undoubtedly, that they are the
  graves of their ancestors. I do not know that any care has ever been
  exercised by any one in exhuming these skeletons so as to learn any
  particulars about them. It is possible, however, that these persons
  were buried according to the (_b_) or canoe method, and that time
  has buried them where they now are.

    [Illustration: FIG. 25.--Posts for Burial Canoes.]

  (_b_) Formerly when a person died the body was placed in the forks
  of two trees and left there. There was no particular cemetery, but
  the person was generally left near the place where the death
  occurred. The Skokomish Valley is said to have been full of canoes
  containing persons thus buried. What their customs were while
  burying, or what they placed around the dead, I am not informed but
  am told that they did not take as much care then of their dead as
  they do now. I am satisfied, however, that they then left some
  articles around the dead. An old resident informs me that the
  Clallam Indians always bury their dead in a sitting posture.

  (_c_) About twenty years ago gold mines were discovered in British
  Columbia, and boats being scarce in the region, unprincipled white
  men took many of the canoes in which the Indian dead had been left,
  emptying them of their contents. This incensed the Indians and they
  changed their mode of burial somewhat by burying the dead in one
  place, placing them in boxes whenever they could obtain them, by
  building scaffolds for them instead of placing them in forks of
  trees, and in cutting their canoes so as to render them useless,
  when they were used as coffins or left by the side of the dead. The
  ruins of one such graveyard now remain about two miles from this
  agency. Nearly all the remains were removed a few years ago.

  With this I furnish you the outlines of such graves which I have
  drawn. Fig. 25 shows that at present only one pair of posts remains.
  I have supplied the other pair as they evidently were.

    [Illustration: FIG. 26.--Tent on Scaffold.]

  Figure 26 is a recent grave at another place. That part which is
  covered with board and cloth incloses the coffin which is on a

  As the Indians have been more in contact with the whites they have
  learned to bury in the ground, and this is the most common method at
  the present time. There are cemeteries everywhere where Indians have
  resided any length of time. After a person has died a coffin is made
  after the cheaper kinds of American ones, the body is placed in it,
  and also with it a number of articles, chiefly cloth or clothes,
  though occasionally money. I lately heard of a child being buried
  with a twenty-dollar gold piece in each hand and another in its
  month, but I am not able to vouch for the truth of it. As a general
  thing, money is too valuable with them for this purpose and there is
  too much temptation for some one to rob the grave when this is left
  in it.

    [Illustration: FIG. 27.--House-Burial.]

    [Illustration: FIG. 28.--House-Burial.]

  (_d_) The grave is dug after the style of the whites and the coffin
  then placed in it. After it has been covered it is customary though
  not universal, to build some kind of an inclosure over it or around
  it in the shape of a small house, shed, lodge or fence. These are
  from 2 to 12 feet high, from 2 to 6 feet wide, and from 5 to 12 feet
  long. Some of these are so well inclosed that it is impossible to
  see within and some are quite open. Occasionally a window is placed
  in the front side. Sometimes these enclosures are covered with
  cloth, which is generally white, sometimes partly covered, and some
  have none. Around the grave, both outside and inside of the
  inclosure, various articles are placed, as guns, canoes, dishes,
  pails, cloth, sheets, blankets, beads, tubs, lamps, bows, mats, and
  occasionally a roughly-carved human image rudely painted. It is said
  that around and in the grave of one Clallam chief, buried a few
  years ago, $500 worth of such things were left. Most of these
  articles are cut or broken so as to render them valueless to man and
  to prevent their being stolen. Poles are also often erected, from 10
  to 30 feet long, on which American flags, handkerchiefs, clothes,
  and cloths of various colors are hung. A few graves have nothing of
  this kind. On some graves these things are renewed every year or
  two. This depends mainly on the number of relatives living and the
  esteem in which they hold the deceased.

  The belief exists that as the body decays spirits carry it away
  particle by particle to the spirit of the deceased in the spirit
  land, and also as these articles decay they are also carried away in
  a similar manner. I have never known of the placing food near a
  grave. Figures 27 and 28 will give you some idea of this class of
  graves. Figure 27 has a paling fence 12 feet square around it.
  Figure 28 is simply a frame over a grave where there is no

  (_e_) _Civilized mode._--A few persons, of late, have fallen almost
  entirely into the American custom of burying, building a simple
  paling fence around it, but placing no articles around it; this is
  more especially true of the Clallams.


  In regard to the funeral ceremonies and mourning observances of
  sections (_a_) and (_b_) of the preceding subject I know nothing. In
  regard to (_c_) and (_d_), they begin to mourn, more especially the
  women, as soon as a person dies. Their mourning song consists
  principally of the sounds represented by the three English notes mi
  mi, do do, la la; those who attend the funeral are expected to bring
  some articles to place in the coffin or about the grave as a token
  of respect for the dead. The articles which I have seen for this
  purpose have been cloth of some kind; a small piece of cloth is
  returned by the mourners to the attendants as a token of
  remembrance. They bury much sooner after death than white persons
  do, generally as soon as they can obtain a coffin. I know of no
  other native funeral ceremonies. Occasionally before being taken to
  the grave, I have held Christian funeral ceremonies over them, and
  these services increase from year to year. One reason which has
  rendered them somewhat backward about having these funeral services
  is, that they are quite superstitions about going near the dead,
  fearing that the evil spirit which killed the deceased will enter
  the living and kill them also. Especially are they afraid of having
  children go near, being much more fearful of the effect of the evil
  spirit on them than on older persons.


  They have no regular period, so far as I know, for mourning, but
  often continue it after the burial, though I do not know that they
  often visit the grave. If they feel the loss very much, sometimes
  they will mourn nearly every day for several weeks; especially is
  this true when they meet an old friend who has not been seen since
  the funeral, or when they see an article owned by the deceased which
  they have not seen for a long time. The only other thing of which I
  think, which bears on this subject, is an idea they have, that
  before a person dies--it may be but a short time or it may be
  several months--a spirit from the spirit land comes and carries off
  the spirit of the individual to that place. There are those who
  profess to discover when this is done, and if by any of their
  incantations they can compel that spirit to return, the person will
  not die, but if they are not able, then the person will become dead
  at heart and in time die, though it may not be for six months or
  even twelve. You will also find a little on this subject in a
  pamphlet which I wrote on the Twana Indians and which has recently
  been published by the Department of the Interior, under Prof. F. V.
  Hayden, United States Geologist.

George Gibbs[81] gives a most interesting account of the burial
ceremonies of the Indians of Oregon and Washington Territory, which is
here reproduced in its entirety, although it contains examples of other
modes of burial besides that in canoes; but to separate the narrative
would destroy the thread of the story:

  The common mode of disposing of the dead among the fishing tribes
  was in canoes. These were generally drawn into the woods at some
  prominent point a short distance from the village, and sometimes
  placed between the forks of trees or raised from the ground on
  posts. Upon the Columbia River the Tsinūk had in particular two very
  noted cemeteries, a high isolated bluff about three miles below the
  mouth of the Cowlitz, called Mount Coffin, and one some distance
  above, called Coffin Rock. The former would appear not to have been
  very ancient. Mr. Broughton, one of Vancouver’s lieutenants, who
  explored the river, makes mention only of _several_ canoes at this
  place; and Lewis and Clarke, who noticed the mount, do not speak of
  them at all, but at the time of Captain Wilkes’s expedition it is
  conjectured that there were at least 3,000. A fire caused by the
  carelessness of one of his party destroyed the whole, to the great
  indignation of the Indians.

  Captain Belcher, of the British ship Sulphur, who visited the river
  in 1839, remarks: “In the year 1836 [1826] the small-pox made great
  ravages, and it was followed a few years since by the ague.
  Consequently Corpse Island and Coffin Mount, as well as the adjacent
  shores, were studded not only with canoes, but at the period of our
  visit the skulls and skeletons were strewed about in all
  directions.” This method generally prevailed on the neighboring
  coasts, as at Shoal Water Bay, &c. Farther up the Columbia, as at
  the Cascades, a different form was adopted, which is thus described
  by Captain Clarke:

  “About half a mile below this house, in a very thick part of the
  woods, is an ancient Indian burial-place; it consists of eight
  vaults, made of pine cedar boards, closely connected, about 8 feet
  square and 6 in height, the top securely covered with wide boards,
  sloping a little, so as to convey off the rain. The direction of all
  these is east and west, the door being on the eastern side, and
  partially stopped with wide boards, decorated with rude pictures of
  men and other animals. On entering we found in some of them four
  dead bodies, carefully wrapped in skins, tied with cords of grass
  and bark, lying on a mat in a direction east and west; the other
  vaults contained only bones, which in some of them were piled to a
  height of 4 feet; on the tops of the vaults and on poles attached to
  them hung brass kettles and frying-pans with holes in their bottoms,
  baskets, bowls, sea-shells, skins, pieces of cloth, hair bags of
  trinkets, and small bones, the offerings of friendship or affection,
  which have been saved by a pious veneration from the ferocity of war
  or the more dangerous temptation of individual gain. The whole of
  the walls as well as the door were decorated with strange figures
  cut and painted on them, and besides these were several wooden
  images of men, some of them so old and decayed as to have almost
  lost their shape, which were all placed against the sides of the
  vault. These images, as well as those in the houses we have lately
  seen, do not appear to be at all the objects of adoration in this
  place; they were most probably intended as resemblances of those
  whose decease they indicate, and when we observe them in houses they
  occupy the most conspicuous part, but are treated more like
  ornaments than objects of worship. Near the vaults which are still
  standing are the remains of others on the ground, completely rotted
  and covered with moss; and as they are formed of the most durable
  pine and cedar timber, there is every appearance that for a very
  long series of years this retired spot has been the depository for
  the Indians near this place.”

  Another depository of this kind upon an island in the river a few
  miles above gave it the name of Sepulcher Inland. The _Watlala_, a
  tribe of the Upper Tsinūk, whose burial place is here described, are
  now nearly extinct; but a number of the sepulchers still remain in
  different states of preservation. The position of the body, as
  noticed by Clarke, is, I believe, of universal observance, the head
  being always placed to the west. The reason assigned to me is that
  the road to the _mé-mel-ūs-illa-hee_, the country of the dead, is
  toward the west, and if they place them otherwise they would be
  confused. East of the Cascade Mountains the tribes whose habits are
  equestrian, and who use canoes only for ferriage or transportation
  purposes, bury their dead, usually heaping over them piles of
  stones, either to mark the spot or to prevent the bodies from being
  exhumed by the prairie wolf. Among the Yakamas we saw many of their
  graves placed in conspicuous points of the basaltic walls which line
  the lower valleys, and designated by a clump of poles planted over
  them, from which fluttered various articles of dress. Formerly these
  prairie tribes killed horses over the graves--a custom now falling
  into disuse in consequence of the teachings of the whites.

  Upon Puget Sound all the forms obtain in different localities. Among
  the Makah of Cape Flattery the graves are covered with a sort of
  box, rudely constructed of boards, and elsewhere on the Sound the
  same method is adopted in some cases, while in others the bodies are
  placed on elevated scaffolds. As a general thing, however, the
  Indians upon the water placed the dead in canoes, while those at a
  distance from it buried them. Most of the graves are surrounded with
  strips of cloth, blankets, and other articles of property. Mr.
  Cameron, an English gentleman residing at Esquimalt Harbor,
  Vancouver Island, informed me that on his place there were graves
  having at each corner a large stone, the interior space filled with
  rubbish. The origin of these was unknown to the present Indians.

  The distinctions of rank or wealth in all cases were very marked;
  persons of no consideration and slaves being buried with very little
  care or respect. Vancouver, whose attention was particularly
  attracted to their methods of disposing of the dead, mentions that
  at Port Discovery he saw baskets suspended to the trees containing
  the skeletons of young children, and, what is not easily explained,
  small square boxes, containing, apparently, food. I do not think
  that any of these tribes place articles of food with the dead, nor
  have I been able to learn from living Indians that they formerly
  followed that practice. What he took for such I do not understand.
  He also mentions seeing in the same place a cleared space recently
  burned over, in which the skulls and bones of a number lay among the
  ashes. The practice of burning the dead exists in parts of
  California and among the Tshimsyan of Fort Simpson. It is also
  pursued by the “Carriers” of New California, but no intermediate
  tribes, to my knowledge, follow it. Certainly those of the Sound do
  not at present.

  It is clear from Vancouver’s narrative that some great epidemic had
  recently passed through the country, as manifested by the quantity
  of human remains uncared for and exposed at the time of his visit,
  and very probably the Indians, being afraid, had buried a house, in
  which the inhabitants had perished with the dead in it. This is
  frequently done. They almost invariably remove from any place where
  sickness has prevailed, generally destroying the house also.

  At Penn Cove Mr. Whidbey, one of Vancouver’s officers, noticed
  several sepulchers formed exactly like a sentry-box. Some of them
  were open, and contained the skeletons of many young children tied
  up in baskets. The smaller bones of adults were likewise noticed,
  but not one of the limb bones was found, which gave rise to an
  opinion that these, by the living inhabitants of the neighborhood,
  were appropriated to useful purposes, such as pointing their arrows,
  spears, or other weapons.

    [Illustration: FIG. 29.--Canoe Burial.]

  It is hardly necessary to say that such a practice is altogether
  foreign to Indian character. The bones of the adults had probably
  been removed and buried elsewhere. The corpses of children are
  variously disposed of; sometimes by suspending them, at others by
  placing in the hollows of trees. A cemetery devoted to infants is,
  however, an unusual occurrence. In cases of chiefs or men of note
  much pomp was used in the accompaniments of the rite. The canoes
  were of great size and value--the war or state canoes of the
  deceased. Frequently one was inverted over that holding the body,
  and in one instance, near Shoalwater Bay, the corpse was deposited
  in a small canoe, which again was placed in a larger one and covered
  with a third. Among the _Tsinūk_ and _Tsìhalis_ the _tamahno-ūs_
  board of the owner was placed near him. The Puget Sound Indians do
  not make these _tamahno-ūs_ boards, but they sometimes constructed
  effigies of their chiefs, resembling the person as nearly as
  possible, dressed in his usual costume, and wearing the articles of
  which he was fond. One of these, representing the Skagit chief
  Sneestum, stood very conspicuously upon a high bank on the eastern
  side of Whidbey Island. The figures observed by Captain Clarke at
  the Cascades were either of this description or else the carved
  posts which had ornamented the interior of the houses of the
  deceased, and were connected with the superstition of the
  _tamahno-ūs_. The most valuable articles of property were put into
  or hung up around the grave, being first carefully rendered
  unserviceable, and the living family were literally stripped to do
  honor to the dead. No little self-denial must have been practiced in
  parting with articles so precious, but those interested frequently
  had the least to say on the subject. The graves of women were
  distinguished by a cap, a Kamas stick, or other implement of their
  occupation, and by articles of dress.

  Slaves were killed in proportion to the rank and wealth of the
  deceased. In some instances they were starved to death, or even tied
  to the dead body and left to perish thus horribly. At present this
  practice has been almost entirely given up, but till within a very
  few years it was not uncommon. A case which occurred in 1850 has
  been already mentioned. Still later, in 1853, Toke, a Tsinūk chief
  living at Shoalwater Bay, undertook to kill a slave girl belonging
  to his daughter, who, in dying, had requested that this might be
  done. The woman fled, and was found by some citizens in the woods
  half starved. Her master attempted to reclaim her, but was soundly
  thrashed and warned against another attempt.

  It was usual in the case of chiefs to renew or repair for a
  considerable length of time the materials and ornaments of the
  burial-place. With the common class of persons family pride or
  domestic affection was satisfied with the gathering together of the
  bones after the flesh had decayed and wrapping them in a new mat.
  The violation of the grave was always regarded as an offense of the
  first magnitude and provoked severe revenge. Captain Belcher
  remarks: “Great secrecy is observed in all their burial ceremonies,
  partly from fear of Europeans, and as among themselves they will
  instantly punish by death any violation of the tomb or wage war if
  perpetrated by another tribe, so they are inveterate and tenaceously
  bent on revenge should they discover that any act of the kind has
  been perpetrated by a white man. It is on record that part of the
  crew of a vessel on her return to this port (the Columbia) suffered
  because a person who belonged to her (but not then in her) was known
  to have taken a skull, which, from the process of flattening, had
  become an object of curiosity.” He adds, however, that at the period
  of his visit to the river “the skulls and skeletons were scattered
  about in all directions; and as I was on most of their positions
  unnoticed by the natives, I suspect the feeling does not extend much
  beyond their relatives, and then only till decay has destroyed body,
  goods, and chattels. The chiefs, no doubt, are watched, as their
  canoes are repainted, decorated, and greater care taken by placing
  them in sequestered spots.”

  The motive for sacrificing or destroying property on occasion of
  death will be referred to in treating of their religious ideas.
  Wailing for the dead is continued for a long time, and it seems to
  be rather a ceremonial performance than an act of spontaneous grief.
  The duty, of course, belongs to the woman, and the early morning is
  usually chosen for the purpose. They go out alone to some place a
  little distant from the lodge or camp and in a loud, sobbing voice
  repeat a sort of stereotyped formula; as, for instance, a mother, on
  the loss of her child, “_A seahb shed-da bud-dah ah ta bud!
  ad-de-dah_,” “Ah chief!” “My child dead, alas!” When in dreams they
  see any of their deceased friends this lamentation is renewed.

With most of the Northwest Indians it was quite common, as mentioned by
Mr. Gibbs, to kill or bury with the dead a living slave, who, failing to
die within three days, was strangled by another slave; but the custom
has also prevailed among other tribes and peoples, in many cases the
individuals offering themselves as voluntary sacrifices. Bancroft states

  In Panama, Nata, and some other districts, when a cacique died,
  those of his concubines that loved him enough, those that he loved
  ardently and so appointed, as well as certain servants, killed
  themselves and were interred with him. This they did in order that
  they might wait upon him in the land of spirits.

It is well known to all readers of history to what an extreme this
revolting practice has prevailed in Mexico, South America, and Africa.


As a confirmed rite or ceremony, this mode of disposing of the dead has
never been followed by any of our North American Indians, although
occasionally the dead have been disposed of by sinking in springs or
water-courses, by throwing into the sea, or by setting afloat in canoes.
Among the nations of antiquity the practice was not uncommon, for we are
informed that the Ichthyophagi, or fish-eaters, mentioned by Ptolemy,
living in a region bordering on the Persian Gulf, invariably committed
their dead to the sea, thus repaying the obligations they had incurred
to its inhabitants. The Lotophagians did the same, and the Hyperboreans,
with a commendable degree of forethought for the survivors, when ill or
about to die, threw themselves into the sea. The burial of Balder “the
beautiful,” it may be remembered, was in a highly decorated ship, which
was pushed down to the sea, set on fire, and committed to the waves. The
Itzas of Guatemala, living on the islands of Lake Peten, according to
Bancroft, are said to have thrown their dead into the lake for want of
room. The Indians of Nootka Sound and the Chinooks were in the habit of
thus getting rid of their dead slaves, and, according to Timberlake, the
Cherokees of Tennessee “seldom bury the dead, but throw them into the

The Alibamans, as they were called by Bossu, denied the rite of
sepulture to suicides; they were looked upon as cowards, and their
bodies thrown into a river. The Rev. J. G. Wood[82] states that the
Obongo or African tribe takes the body to some running stream, the
course of which has been previously diverted. A deep grave is dug in the
bed of the stream, the body placed in it, and covered over carefully.
Lastly, the stream is restored to its original course, so that all
traces of the grave are soon lost.

The Kavague also bury their common people, or wanjambo, by simply
sinking the body in some stream.

Historians inform us that Alaric was buried in a manner similar to that
employed by the Obongo, for in 410, at Cosença, a town of Calabria, the
Goths turned aside the course of the river Vasento, and having made a
grave in the midst of its bed, where its course was most rapid, they
interred their king with a prodigious amount of wealth and riches. They
then caused the river to resume its regular course, and destroyed all
persons who had been concerned in preparing this romantic grave.

A later example of water-burial is that afforded by the funeral of De
Soto. Dying in 1542, his remains were inclosed in a wooden chest well
weighted, and committed to the turbid and tumultuous waters of the

After a careful search for well-authenticated instances of burial,
aquatic and semi-aquatic, among North American Indians, but two have
been found, which are here given. The first relates to the Gosh-Utes,
and is by Capt. J. H. Simpson:[83]

  Skull Valley, which is a part of the Great Salt Lake Desert, and
  which we have crossed to-day, Mr. George W. Bean, my guide over this
  route last fall, says derives its name from the number of skulls
  which have been found in it, and which have arisen from the custom
  of the Goshute Indians burying their dead in springs, which they
  sank with stones or keep down with sticks. He says he has actually
  seen the Indians bury their dead in this way near the town of Provo,
  where he resides.

As corroborative of this statement, Captain Simpson mentions in another
part of the volume that, arriving at a spring one evening, they were
obliged to dig out the skeleton of an Indian from the mud at the bottom
before using the water.

This peculiar mode of burial is entirely unique, so far as known, and
but from the well-known probity of the relator might well be questioned,
especially when it is remembered that in the country spoken of water is
quite scarce and Indians are careful not to pollute the streams or
springs near which they live. Conjecture seems useless to establish a
reason for this disposition of the dead, unless we are inclined to
attribute it to the natural indolence of the savage, or a desire to
poison the springs for white persons.

    [Illustration: FIG. 30.--Mourning Cradle.]

The second example is by George Catlin,[84] and relates to the Chinook:

  * * * This little cradle has a strap which passes over the woman’s
  forehead whilst the cradle rides on her back, and if the child dies
  during its subjection to this rigid mode, its cradle becomes its
  coffin, forming a little canoe, in which it lies floating on the
  water in some sacred pool, where they are often in the habit of
  fastening their canoes containing the dead bodies of the old and
  young, or, which in often the case, elevated into the branches of
  trees, where their bodies are left to decay and their bones to dry
  whilst they are bandaged in many skins and curiously packed in their
  canoes, with paddles to propel and ladles to bale them out, and
  provisions to last and pipes to smoke as they are performing their
  “long journey after death to their contemplated hunting grounds,”
  which these people think is to be performed in their canoes.

Figure 30, after Catlin, is a representation of a mourning-cradle.
Figure 31 represents the sorrowing mother committing the body of her
dead child to the mercy of the elements.


This is a term quaintly used by the learned M. Pierre Muret to express
the devouring of the dead by birds and animals or the surviving friends
and relatives. Exposure of the dead to animals and birds has already
been mentioned, but in the absence of any positive proof, it is not
believed that the North American Indians followed the custom, although
cannibalism may have prevailed to a limited extent. It is true that a
few accounts are given by authors, but these are considered apochryphal
in character, and the one mentioned is only offered to show how
credulous were the early writers on American natives.

That such a means of disposing of the dead was not in practice is
somewhat remarkable when we take into consideration how many analogies
been found in comparing old and new world funeral observances, and the
statements made by Bruhier, Lafitau, Muret, and others, who give a
number of examples of this peculiar mode of burial.

For instance, the Tartars sometimes ate their dead, and the Massagetics,
Padæans, Derbices, and Effedens did the same, having previously
strangled the aged and mixed their flesh with mutton. Horace and
Tertullian both affirm that the Irish and ancient Britons devoured the
dead, and Lafitau remarks that certain Indians of South America did the
same, esteeming this mode of disposal more honorable and much to be
preferred than to rot and be eaten by worms.

J. G. Wood, in his work already quoted, states that the Fans of Africa
devour their dead, but this disposition is followed only for the common
people, the kings and chiefs being buried with much ceremony.

The following extract is from Lafitau:[85]

  Dans l’Amérique Méridionale quelque Peuples décharnent les corps de
  leurs Guerriers et les mangent leurs chairs, ainsi que je viens de
  le dire, et après les avoir consumées, ils conservent pendant
  quelque temps leurs cadavres avec respect dans leurs Cabanes, et il
  portent ces squeletes dans les combats en guise d’Etendard, pour
  ranimer leur courage par cette vue et inspirer de la terreur à leurs
  ennemis. * * *

    [Illustration: FIG. 31.--Launching the Burial Cradle.]

  Il est vrai qu’il y en a qui font festin des cadavres de leurs
  parens; mais il est faux qu’elles les mettent à mort dans leur
  vieillesse, pour avoir le plaisir de se nourrir de leur chair, et
  d’en faire un repas. Quelques Nations de l’Amérique Méridionale, qui
  ont encore cette coutume de manger les corps morts de leurs parens,
  n’en usent ainsi que par piété, piété mal entenduë à la verité, mais
  piété colorée néanmoins par quelque ombre de raison; car ils croyent
  leur donner une sépulture bien plus honorable.

To the credit of our savages, this barbarous and revolting practice is
not believed to have been practiced by them.


The above subjects are coincident with burial, and some of them,
particularly mourning, have been more or less treated of in this paper,
yet it may be of advantage to here give a few of the collected examples,
under separate heads.


One of the most carefully described scenes of mourning at the death of a
chief of the Crows is related in the life of Beckwourth,[86] who for
many years lived among this people, finally attaining great distinction
as a warrior.

  I dispatched a herald to the village to inform them of the head
  chief’s death, and then, burying him according to his directions, we
  slowly proceeded homewards. My very soul sickened at the
  contemplation of the scenes that would be enacted at my arrival.
  When we drew in sight of the village, we found every lodge laid
  prostrate. We entered amid shrieks, cries, and yells. Blood was
  streaming from every conceivable part of the bodies of all who were
  old enough to comprehend their loss. Hundreds of fingers were
  dismembered; hair torn from the head lay in profusion about the
  paths; wails and moans in every direction assailed the ear, where
  unrestrained joy had a few hours before prevailed. This fearful
  mourning lasted until evening of the next day. * * *

  A herald having been dispatched to our other villages to acquaint
  them with the death of our head chief, and request them to assemble
  at the Rose Bud, in order to meet our village and devote themselves
  to a general time of mourning, there met, in conformity to the
  summons, over ten thousand Crows at the place indicated. Such a
  scene of disorderly, vociferous mourning, no imagination can
  conceive nor any pen portray. Long Hair cut off a large roll of his
  hair; a thing he was never known to do before. The cutting and
  hacking of human flesh exceeded all my previous experience; fingers
  were dismembered as readily as twigs, and blood was poured out like
  water. Many of the warriors would cut two gashes nearly the entire
  length of their arm; then, separating the skin from the flesh at one
  end, would grasp it in their other hand, and rip it asunder to the
  shoulder. Others would carve various devices upon their breasts and
  shoulders, and raise the skin in the same manner to make the scars
  show to advantage after the wound was healed. Some of their
  mutilations were ghastly, and my heart sickened to look at them, but
  they would not appear to receive any pain from them.

It should be remembered that many of Beckwourth’s statements are to be
taken _cum grana salis_.

From I. L. Mahan, United States Indian agent for the Chippewas of Lake
Superior, Red Cliff, Wisconsin, the following detailed account of
mourning has been received:

  There is probably no people that exhibit more sorrow and grief for
  their dead than they. The young widow mourns the loss of her
  husband; by day as by night she is heard silently sobbing; she is a
  constant visitor to the place of rest; with the greatest reluctance
  will she follow the raised camp. The friends and relatives of the
  young mourner will incessantly devise methods to distract her mind
  from the thought of her lost husband. She refuses nourishment, but
  as nature is exhausted she is prevailed upon to partake of food; the
  supply is scant, but on every occasion the best and largest
  proportion is deposited upon the grave of her husband. In the mean
  time the female relatives of the deceased have, according to custom,
  submitted to her charge a parcel made up of different cloths
  ornamented with bead-work and eagle’s feathers, which she is charged
  to keep by her side--the place made vacant by the demise of her
  husband--a reminder of her widowhood. She is therefore for a term of
  twelve moons not permitted to wear any finery, neither is she
  permitted to slicken up and comb her head; this to avoid attracting
  attention. Once in a while a female relative of deceased,
  commiserating with her grief and sorrow, will visit her and
  voluntarily proceed to comb out the long-neglected and matted hair.
  With a jealous eye a vigilant watch is kept over her conduct during
  the term of her widowhood, yet she is allowed the privilege to
  marry, any time during her widowhood, an unmarried brother or
  cousin, or a person of the same _Dodem_ [_sic_] (family mark) of her

  At the expiration of her term, the vows having been faithfully
  performed and kept, the female relatives of deceased assemble and,
  with greetings commensurate to the occasion, proceed to wash her
  face, comb her hair, and attire her person with new apparel, and
  otherwise demonstrating the release from her vow and restraint.
  Still she has not her entire freedom. If she will still refuse to
  marry a relative of the deceased and will marry another, she then
  has to purchase her freedom by giving a certain amount of goods and
  whatever else she might have manufactured during her widowhood in
  anticipation of the future now at hand. Frequently, though, during
  widowhood the vows are disregarded and an inclination to flirt and
  play courtship or form an alliance of marriage outside of the
  relatives of the deceased is being indulged, and when discovered the
  widow is set upon by the female relatives, her slick braided hair is
  shorn close up to the back of her neck, all her apparel and trinkets
  are torn from her person, and a quarrel frequently results fatally
  to some member of one or the other side.

Thomas L. McKenney[87] gives a description of the Chippewa widow which
differs slightly from the one above:

  I have noticed several women here carrying with them rolls of
  clothing. On inquiring what these imported, I learn that they _are
  widows_ who carry them, and that these are badges of mourning. It is
  indispensable, when a woman of the Chippeway Nation loses her
  husband, for her to take of her best apparel--and the whole of it is
  not worth a dollar--and roll it up, and confine it by means of her
  husband’s sashes; and if he had ornaments, these are generally put
  on the top of the roll, and around it is wrapped a piece of cloth.
  This bundle is called her husband, and it is expected that she is
  never to be seen without it. If she walks out she takes it with her;
  if she sits down in her lodge, she places it by her side. This badge
  of widowhood and of mourning the widow is compelled to carry with
  her until some of her late husband’s family shall call and take it
  away, which is done when they think she has mourned long enough, and
  which is generally at the expiration of a year. She is then, but not
  before, released from her mourning, and at liberty to marry again.
  She has the privilege to take this husband to the family of the
  deceased and leave it, but this is considered indecorous, and is
  seldom done. Sometimes a brother of the deceased takes the widow for
  his wife at the grave of her husband, which is done by a ceremony of
  walking her over it. And this he has a right to do; and when this is
  done she is not required to go into mourning; or, if she chooses,
  she has the right _to go to him_, and he is _bound_ to support her.

    [Illustration: FIG. 32.--Chippewa Widow.]

  I visited a lodge to-day, where I saw one of these badges. The size
  varies according to the quantity of clothing which the widow may
  happen to have. It is expected of her to put up her _best_ and wear
  her _worst_. The “_husband_” I saw just now was 30 inches high and
  18 inches in circumference.

  I was told by the interpreter that he knew a woman who had been left
  to mourn after this fashion for years, none of her husband’s family
  calling for the badge or token of her grief. At a certain time it
  was told her that some of her husband’s family were passing, and she
  was advised to speak to them on the subject. She did so, and told
  them she had mourned long and was poor; that she had no means to buy
  clothes, and her’s being all in the mourning badge, and sacred,
  could not be touched. She expressed a hope that her request might
  not be interpreted into a wish to marry; it was only made that she
  might be placed in a situation to get some clothes. She got for
  answer, that “they were going to Mackinac, and would think of it.”
  They left her in this state of uncertainty, but on returning, and
  finding her faithful still, they took her “husband” and presented
  her with clothing of various kinds. Thus was she rewarded for her
  constancy and made comfortable.

  The Choctaw widows mourn by never combing their hair for the term of
  their grief, which is generally about a year. The Chippeway men
  mourn by painting their faces black.

  I omitted to mention that when presents are going round, the badge
  of mourning, this “_husband_” comes in for an equal share, as if it
  were the living husband.

  A Chippeway mother, on losing her child, prepares an image of it in
  the best manner she is able, and dresses it as she did her living
  child, and fixes it in the kind of cradle I have referred to, and
  goes through the ceremonies of nursing it as if it were alive, by
  dropping little particles of food in the direction of its mouth, and
  giving it of whatever the living child partook. This ceremony also
  is generally observed for a year.

Figure 32 represents the Chippewa widow holding in her arms the
substitute for the dead husband.

The substitution of a reminder for the dead husband, made from rags,
furs, and other articles, is not confined alone to the Chippewas, other
tribes having the same custom. In some instances the widows are obliged
to carry around with them, for a variable period, a bundle containing
the bones of the deceased consort.

Similar observances, according to Bancroft,[88] were followed by some of
the Central American tribes of Indians, those of the Sambos and
Mosquitos being as follows:

  The widow was bound to supply the grave of her husband for a year,
  after which she took up the bones and carried them with her for
  another year, at last placing them upon the roof of her house, and
  then only was she allowed to marry again.

  On returning from the grave the property of the deceased is
  destroyed, the cocoa palms being cut down, and all who have taken
  part in the funeral undergo a lustration in the river. Relatives cut
  off the hair, the men leaving a ridge along the middle from the nape
  of the neck to the forehead. Widows, according to some old writers,
  after supplying the grave with food for a year take up the bones and
  carry them on the back in the daytime, sleeping with them at night
  for another year, after which they are placed at the door or upon
  the house-top. On the anniversary of deaths, friends of the deceased
  hold a feast, called _seekroe_, at which large quantities of liquor
  are drained to his memory. Squier, who witnessed the ceremonies on
  an occasion of this kind, says that males and females were dressed
  in _ule_ cloaks fantastically painted black and white, while their
  faces were correspondingly streaked with red and yellow, and they
  performed a slow walk around, prostrating themselves at intervals
  and calling loudly upon the dead and tearing the ground with their
  hands. At no other time is the departed referred to, the very
  mention of his name being superstitiously avoided. Some tribes
  extend a thread from the house of death to the grave, carrying it in
  a straight line over every obstacle. Fröebel states that among the
  Woolwas all property of the deceased is buried with him, and that
  both husband and wife cut the hair and burn the hut on the death of
  either, placing a gruel of maize upon the grave for a certain time.

Benson[89] gives the following account of the Choctaws’ funeral
ceremonies, embracing the disposition of the body, mourning feast and

  Their funeral is styled by them “the last cry.”

  When the husband dies the friends assemble, prepare the grave, and
  place the corpse in it, but do not fill it up. The gun, bow and
  arrows, hatchet, and knife are deposited in the grave. Poles are
  planted at the head and the foot, upon which flags are placed; the
  grave is then inclosed by pickets driven in the ground. The funeral
  ceremonies now begin, the widow being the chief mourner. At night
  and morning she will go to the grave and pour forth the most piteous
  cries and wailings. It is not important that any other member of the
  family should take any very active part in the “cry,” though they do
  participate to some extent.

  The widow wholly neglects her toilet, while she daily goes to the
  grave during one entire moon from the date when the death occurred.
  On the evening of the last day of the moon the friends all assemble
  at the cabin of the disconsolate widow, bringing provisions for a
  sumptuous feast, which consists of corn and jerked beef boiled
  together in a kettle. While the supper is preparing the bereaved
  wife goes to the grave and pours out, with unusual vehemence, her
  bitter wailings and lamentations. When the food is thoroughly cooked
  the kettle is taken from the fire and placed in the center of the
  cabin, and the friends gather around it, passing the buffalo-horn
  spoon from hand to hand and from mouth to mouth till all have been
  bountifully supplied. While supper is being served, two of the
  oldest men of the company quietly withdraw and go to the grave and
  fill it up, taking down the flags. All then join in a dance, which
  not unfrequently is continued till morning; the widow does not fail
  to unite in the dance, and to contribute her part to the festivities
  of the occasion. This is the “_last cry_,” the days of mourning are
  ended, and the widow is now ready to form another matrimonial
  alliance. The ceremonies are precisely the same when a man has lost
  his wife, and they are only slightly varied when any other member of
  the family has died. (Slaves were buried without ceremonies.)


Some examples of human sacrifice have already been given in connection
with another subject, but it is thought others might prove interesting.
The first relates to the Natchez of Louisiana.[90]

  When their sovereign died he was accompanied in the grave by his
  wives and by several of his subjects. The lesser Suns took care to
  follow the same custom. The law likewise condemned every Natchez to
  death who had married a girl of the blood of the Suns as soon as she
  was expired. On this occasion I must tell you the history of an
  Indian who was noways willing to submit to this law. His name was
  _Elteacteal_; he contracted an alliance with the Suns, but the
  consequences which this honor brought along with it had like to have
  proved very unfortunate to him. His wife fell sick; as soon as he
  saw her at the point of death he fled, embarked in a piragua on the
  _Mississippi_, and came to New Orleans. He put himself under the
  protection of M. de Bienville, the then governor, and offered to be
  his huntsman. The governor accepted his services, and interested
  himself for him with the Natchez, who declared that he had nothing
  more to fear, because the ceremony was past, and he was accordingly
  no longer a lawful prize.

  _Elteacteal_, being thus assured, ventured to return to his nation,
  and, without settling among them, he made several voyages thither.
  He happened to be there when the Sun called the _Stung Serpent_,
  brother to the Great Sun, died. He was a relative of the late wife
  of _Elteacteal_, and they resolved to make him pay his debt. M. de
  Bienville had been recalled to France, and the sovereign of the
  Natchez thought that the protector’s absence had annulled the
  reprieve granted to the protected person, and accordingly he caused
  him to be arrested. As soon as the poor fellow found himself in the
  hut of the grand chief of war, together with the other victims
  destined to be sacrificed to the _Stung Serpent_, he gave vent to
  the excess of his grief. The favorite wife of the late Son, who was
  likewise to be sacrificed, and who saw the preparations for her
  death with firmness, and seemed impatient to rejoin her husband,
  hearing _Elteacteal’s_ complaints and groans, said to him: “Art thou
  no warrior?” He answered, “Yes: I am one.” “However,” said she,
  “thou cryest; life is dear to thee, and as that is the case, it is
  not good that thou shouldst go along with us; go with the women.”
  _Elteacteal_ replied: “True; life is dear to me. It would be well if
  I walked yet on earth till to the death of the Great Sun, and I
  would die with him.” “Go thy way,” said the favorite, “it is not fit
  thou shouldst go with us, and that thy heart should remain behind on
  earth. Once more, get away, and let me see thee no more.”

  _Elteacteal_ did not stay to hear this order repeated to him; he
  disappeared like lightning; three old women, two of which were his
  relatives, offered to pay his debt; their age and their infirmities
  had disgusted them of life; none of them had been able to use their
  legs for a great while. The hair of the two that were related to
  _Elteacteal_ was no more gray than those of women of fifty-five
  years in France. The other old woman was a hundred and twenty years
  old, and had very white hair, which is a very uncommon thing among
  the Indians. None of the three had a quite wrinkled skin. They were
  dispatched in the evening, one at the door of the _Stung Serpent_,
  and the other two upon the place before the temple. * * * A cord is
  fastened round their necks with a slip-knot, and eight men of their
  relations strangle them by drawing, four one way and four the other.
  So many are not necessary, but as they acquire nobility by such
  executions, there are always more than are wanting, and the
  operation is performed in an instant. The generosity of these women
  gave _Elteacteal_ life again, acquired him the degree of
  _considered_, and cleared his honor, which he had sullied by fearing
  death. He remained quiet after that time, and taking advantage of
  what he had learned during his stay among the French, he became a
  juggler and made use of his knowledge to impose upon his countrymen.

  The morning after this execution they made everything ready for the
  convoy, and the hour being come, the great master of the ceremonies
  appeared at the door of the hut, adorned suitably to his quality.
  The victims who were to accompany the deceased prince into the
  mansion of the spirits came forth; they consisted of the favorite
  wife of the deceased, of his second wife, his chancellor, his
  physician, his hired man, that is, his first servant, and of some
  old women.

  The favorite went to the Great Sun, with whom there were several
  Frenchmen, to take leave of him; she gave orders for the Suns of
  both sexes that were her children to appear, and spoke to the
  following effect:

  “Children, this is the day on which I am to tear myself from you
  (_sic_) arms and to follow your father’s steps, who waits for me in
  the country of the spirits; if I were to yield to your tears I would
  injure my love and fail in my duty. I have done enough for you by
  bearing you next to my heart, and by suckling you with my breasts.
  You that are descended of his blood and fed by my milk, ought you to
  shed tears? Rejoice rather that you are _Suns_ and warriors; you are
  bound to give examples of firmness and valor to the whole nation:
  go, my children, I have provided for all your wants, by procuring
  you friends; my friends and those of your father are yours too;
  I leave you amidst them; they are the French; they are
  tender-hearted and generous; make yourselves worthy of their esteem
  by not degenerating from your race; always act openly with them and
  never implore them with meanness.

  “And you, Frenchmen,” added she, turning herself towards our
  officers, “I recommend my orphan children to you; they will know no
  other fathers than you; you ought to protect them.”

  After that she got up; and, followed by her troop, returned to her
  husband’s hut with a surprising firmness.

  A noble woman came to join herself to the number of victims of her
  own accord, being engaged by the friendship she bore the _Stung
  Serpent_ to follow him into the other world. The Europeans called
  her the _haughty_ lady, on account of her majestic deportment and
  her proud air, and because she only frequented the company of the
  most distinguished Frenchmen. They regretted her much, because she
  had the knowledge of several simples with which she had saved the
  lives of many of our sick. This moving sight filled our people with
  grief and horror. The favorite wife of the deceased rose up and
  spoke to them with a smiling countenance: “I die without fear;” said
  she, “grief does not embitter my last hours. I recommend my children
  to you; whenever you see them, noble Frenchmen, remember that you
  have loved their father, and that he was till death a true and
  sincere friend of your nation, whom he loved more than himself. The
  disposer of life has been pleased to call him, and I shall soon go
  and join him; I shall tell him that I have seen your hearts moved at
  the sight of his corps; do not be grieved; we shall be longer
  friends in the _country of the spirits_ than here, because we do not
  die there again.”[91*]

  These words forced tears from the eyes of all the French; they were
  obliged to do all they could to prevent the Great Sun from killing
  himself, for he was inconsolable at the death of his brother, upon
  whom he was used to lay the weight of government, he being great
  chief of war of the Natches, i.e. generalissimo of their armies;
  that prince grew furious by the resistance he met with; he held his
  gun by the barrel, and the Sun, his presumptive heir, held it by the
  lock, and caused the powder to fall out of the pan; the hut was full
  of Suns, Nobles, and Honorables[92*] but the French raised their
  spirits again, by hiding all the arms belonging to the sovereign,
  and filling the barrel of his gun with water, that it might be unfit
  for use for some time.

  As soon as the Suns saw their sovereign’s life in safety, they
  thanked the French, by squeezing their hands, but without speaking;
  a most profound silence reigned throughout, for grief and awe kept
  in bounds the multitude that were present.

  The wife of the Great Sun was seized with fear during this
  transaction. She was asked whether she was ill, and she answered
  aloud, “Yes, I am”; and added with a lower voice, “If the Frenchmen
  go out of this hut, my husband dies and all the Natches will die
  with him; stay, then, brave Frenchmen, because your words are as
  powerful as arrows; besides, who could have ventured to do what you
  have done? But you are his true friends and those of his brother.”
  Their laws obliged the Great Sun’s wife to follow her husband in the
  grave; this was doubtless the cause of her fears; and likewise the
  gratitude towards the French, who interested themselves in behalf of
  his life, prompted her to speak in the above-mentioned manner.

  The Great Sun gave his hand to the officers, and said to them: “My
  friends, my heart is so overpowered with grief that, though my eyes
  were open, I have not taken notice that you have been standing all
  this while, nor have I asked you to sit down; but pardon the excess
  of my affliction.”

  The Frenchmen told him that he had no need of excuses; that they
  were going to leave him alone, but that they would cease to be his
  friends unless he gave orders to light the fires again,[93*]
  lighting his own before them; and that they should not leave him
  till his brother was buried.

  He took all the Frenchmen by the hands, and said: “Since all the
  chiefs and noble officers will have me stay on earth, I will do it;
  I will not kill myself; let the fires be lighted again immediately,
  and I’ll wait till death joins me to my brother; I am already old,
  and till I die I shall walk with the French; had it not been for
  them I should have gone with my brother, and all the roads would
  have been covered with dead bodies.”

Improbable as this account may appear, it has nevertheless been credited
by some of the wisest and most careful of ethnological writers, and its
seeming appearance of romance disappears when the remembrance of similar
ceremonies among Old World peoples comes to our minds.

An apparently well-authenticated case of attempted burial sacrifice is
described by Miss A. J. Allen,[94] and refers to the Wascopums, of

  At length, by meaning looks and gestures rather than words, it was
  found that the chief had determined that the deceased boy’s friend,
  who had been his companion in hunting the rabbit, snaring the
  pheasant, and fishing in the streams, was to be his companion to the
  spirit land; his son should not be deprived of his associate in the
  strange world to which he had gone; that associate should perish by
  the hand of his father, and be conveyed with him to the dead-house.
  This receptacle was built on a long, black rock in the center of the
  Columbia River, around which, being so near the falls, the current
  was amazingly rapid. It was thirty feet in length, and perhaps half
  that in breadth, completely enclosed and sodded except at one end,
  where was a narrow aperture just sufficient to carry a corpse
  through. The council overruled, and little George, instead of being
  slain, was conveyed living to the dead-house about sunset. The dead
  were piled on each side, leaving a narrow aisle between, and on one
  of these was placed the deceased boy; and, bound tightly till the
  purple, quivering flesh puffed above the strong bark cords, that he
  might die very soon, the living was placed by his side, his face to
  his till the very lips met, and extending along limb to limb and
  foot to foot, and nestled down into his couch of rottenness, to
  impede his breathing as far as possible and smother his cries.

Bancroft[95] states that--

  The slaves sacrificed at the graves by the Aztecs and Tarascos were
  selected from various trades and professions, and took with them the
  most cherished articles of the master and the implements of their
  trade wherewith to supply his wants--

while among certain of the Central American tribe death was voluntary,
wives, attendants, slaves, friends, and relations sacrificing themselves
by means of a vegetable poison.

To the mind of a savage man unimpressed with the idea that self-murder
is forbidden by law or custom, there can seem no reason why, if he so
wills, he should not follow his beloved chief, master, or friend to the
“happy other world;” and when this is remembered we need not feel
astonished as we read of accounts in which scores of self immolations
are related. It is quite likely that among our own people similar
customs might be followed did not the law and society frown down such
proceedings. In fact the daily prints occasionally inform us,
notwithstanding the restraints mentioned, that sacrifices do take place
on the occasion of the death of a beloved one.


In Beltrami[96] an account is given of the funeral ceremonies of one of
the tribes of the west, including a description of the feast which took
place before the body was consigned to its final resting-place:

  I was a spectator of the funeral ceremony performed in honor of the
  manes of _Cloudy Weather’s_ son-in-law, whose body had remained with
  the Sioux, and was suspected to have furnished one of their repasts.
  What appeared not a little singular and indeed ludicrous in this
  funeral comedy was the contrast exhibited by the terrific
  lamentations and yells of one part of the company while the others
  were singing and dancing with all their might.

  At another funeral ceremony for a member of the _Grand Medicine_,
  and at which as _a man of another world_ I was permitted to attend,
  the same practice occurred. But at the feast which took place on
  that occasion an allowance was served up for the deceased out of
  every article of which it consisted, while others were beating,
  wounding, and torturing themselves, and letting their blood flow
  both over the dead man and his provisions, thinking possibly that
  this was the most palatable seasoning for the latter which they
  could possibly supply. His wife furnished out an entertainment
  present for him of all her hair and rags, with which, together with
  his arms, his provisions, his ornaments, and his mystic medicine
  bag, he was wrapped up in the skin which had been his last covering
  when alive. He was then tied round with the bark of some particular
  trees which they use for making cords, and bonds of a very firm
  texture and hold (the only ones indeed which they have), and instead
  of being buried in the earth was hung up to a large oak. The reason
  of this was that, as his favorite Manitou was the eagle, his spirit
  would be enabled more easily from such a situation to fly with him
  to Paradise.

Hind[97] mentions an account of a burial feast by De Brebeuf which
occurred among the Hurons of New York:

  The Jesuit missionary, P. de Brebeuf, who assisted at one of the
  “feasts of the dead” at the village of Ossosane, before the
  dispersion of the Hurons, relates that the ceremony took place in
  the presence of 2,000 Indians, who offered 1,300 presents at the
  common tomb, in testimony of their grief. The people belonging to
  five large villages deposited the bones of their dead in a gigantic
  shroud, composed of forty-eight robes, each robe being made of ten
  beaver skins. After being carefully wrapped in this shroud, they
  were placed between moss and bark. A wall of stones was built around
  this vast ossuary to preserve it from profanation. Before covering
  the bones with earth a few grains of Indian corn were thrown by the
  women upon the sacred relics. According to the superstitious belief
  of the Hurons the souls of the dead remain near the bodies until the
  “feast of the dead”; after which ceremony they become free, and can
  at once depart for the land of spirits, which they believe to be
  situated in the regions of the setting sun.

Ossuaries have not been used by savage nations alone, for the custom of
exhuming the bones of the dead after a certain period, and collecting
them in suitable receptacles, is well known to have been practiced in
Italy, Switzerland, and France. The writer saw in the church-yard of
Zug, Switzerland, in 1857, a slatted pen containing the remains of
hundreds of individuals. These had been dug up from the grave-yard and
preserved in the manner indicated. The catacombs of Naples and Paris
afford examples of burial ossuaries.


The following account is by Dr. S. G. Wright, acting physician to the
Leech Lake Agency, Minnesota:--

  Pagan Indians or those who have not become Christians still adhere
  to the ancient practice of feasting at the grave of departed
  friends; the object is to feast with the departed; that is, they
  believe that while they partake of the visible material the departed
  spirit partakes at the same time of the spirit that dwells in the
  food. From ancient time it was customary to bury with the dead
  various articles, such especially as were most valued in lifetime.
  The idea was that there was a spirit dwelling in the article
  represented by the material article; thus the war-club contained a
  spiritual war-club, the pipe a spiritual pipe, which could be used
  by the departed in another world. These several spiritual implements
  were supposed, of course, to accompany the soul, to be used also on
  the way to its final abode. This habit has now ceased.


This subject has been sufficiently mentioned elsewhere in connection
with other matters and does not need to be now repeated. It has been an
almost universal custom throughout the whole extent of the country to
place food in or near the grave of deceased persons.


Gymnastic exercises, dignified with this name, upon the occasion of a
death or funeral, were common to many tribes. It is thus described by

  An occasional and very singular figure was called the “dance for the
  dead.” It was known as the _O-hé-wä._ It was danced by the women
  alone. The music was entirely vocal, a select band of singers being
  stationed in the center of the room. To the songs for the dead which
  they sang the dancers joined in chorus. It was plaintive and
  mournful music. This dance was usually separate from all councils
  and the only dance of the occasion. It was commenced at dusk or soon
  after and continued until towards morning, when the shades of the
  dead who were believed to be present and participate in the dance
  were supposed to disappear. The dance was had whenever a family
  which had lost a member called for it, which was usually a year
  after the event. In the spring and fall it was often given for all
  the dead indiscriminately, who were believed then to revisit the
  earth and join in the dance.

The interesting account which now follows is by Stephen Powers[99] and
relates to the Yo-kaí-a of California, containing other matters of
importance pertaining to burial:

  I paid a visit to their camp four miles below Ukiah, and finding
  there a unique kind of assembly-house, desired to enter and examine
  it, but was not allowed to do so until I had gained the confidence
  of the old sexton by a few friendly words and the tender of a silver
  half dollar. The pit of it was about 50 feet in diameter and 4 or 5
  feet deep, and it was so heavily roofed with earth that the interior
  was damp and somber as a tomb. It looked like a low tumulus, and was
  provided with a tunnel-like entrance about 10 feet long and 4 feet
  high, and leading down to a level with the floor of the pit. The
  mouth of the tunnel was closed with brush, and the venerable sexton
  would not remove it until he had slowly and devoutly paced several
  times to and fro before the entrance.

  Passing in I found the massive roof supported by a number of peeled
  poles painted white and ringed with black and ornamented with rude
  devices. The floor was covered thick and green with sprouting wheat,
  which had been scattered to feed the spirit of the captain of the
  tribe, lately deceased. Not long afterwards a deputation of the
  Senèl come up to condole with the Yo-kaí-a on the loss of their
  chief, and a dance or series of dances was held which lasted three
  days. During this time of course the Senèl were the guests of the
  Yo-kaí-a, and the latter were subjected to a considerable expense.
  I was prevented by other engagements from being present, and shall
  be obliged to depend on the description of an eye-witness, Mr. John
  Tenney, whose account is here given with a few changes:

  There are four officials connected with the building, who are
  probably chosen to preserve order and to allow no intruders. They
  are the assistants of the chief. The invitation to attend was from
  one of them, and admission was given by the same. These four wore
  black vests trimmed with red flannel and shell ornaments. The chief
  made no special display on the occasion. In addition to these four,
  who were officers of the assembly-chamber, there were an old man and
  a young woman, who seemed to be priest and priestess. The young
  woman was dressed differently from any other, the rest dressing in
  plain calico dresses. Her dress was white covered with spots of red
  flannel, cut in neat figure, ornamented with shells. It looked
  gorgeous and denoted some office, the name of which I could not
  ascertain. Before the visitors were ready to enter, the older men of
  the tribe were reclining around the fire smoking and chatting. As
  the ceremonies were about to commence, the old man and young woman
  were summoned, and, standing at the end opposite the entrance, they
  inaugurated the exercises by a brief service, which seemed to be a
  dedication of the house to the exercises about to commence. Each of
  them spoke a few words, joined in a brief chant, and the house was
  thrown open for their visitors. They staid at their post until the
  visitors entered and were seated on one side of the room. After the
  visitors then others were seated, making about 200 in all, though
  there was plenty of room in the center for the dancing.

  Before the dance commented the chief of the visiting tribe made a
  brief speech in which he no doubt referred to the death of the chief
  of the Yo-kaí-a, and offered the sympathy of his tribe in this loss.
  As he spoke, some of the women scarcely refrained from crying out,
  and with difficulty they suppressed their sobs. I presume that he
  proposed a few moments of mourning, for when he stopped the whole
  assemblage burst forth into a bitter wailing, some screaming as if
  in agony. The whole thing created such a din that I was compelled to
  stop my ears. The air was rent and pierced with their cries. This
  wailing and shedding of tears lasted about three or five minutes,
  though it seemed to last a half hour. At a given signal they ceased,
  wiped their eyes, and quieted down.

  Then preparations were made for the dance. One end of the room was
  set aside for the dressing-room. The chief actors wens five men, who
  were muscular and agile. They were profusely decorated with paint
  and feathers, while white and dark stripes covered their bodies.
  They were girt about the middle with cloth of bright colors,
  sometimes with variegated shawls. A feather mantle hung from the
  shoulder, reaching below the knee; strings of shells ornamented the
  neck, while their heads were covered with a crown of eagle feathers.
  They had whistles in their months as they danced, swaying their
  heads, bending and whirling their bodies; every muscle seemed to be
  exercised, and the feather ornaments quivered with light. They were
  agile and graceful as they bounded about in the sinuous course of
  the dance.

  The five men were assisted by a semicircle of twenty women, who only
  marked time by stepping up and down with short step. They always
  took their places first and disappeared first, the men making their
  exit gracefully one by one. The dresses of the women were suitable
  for the occasion. They were white dresses, trimmed heavily with
  black velvet. The stripes were about three inches wide, some plain
  and others edged like saw teeth. This was an indication of their
  mourning for the dead chief, in whose honor they had prepared that
  style of dancing. Strings of haliotis and pachydesma shell beads
  encircled their necks, and around their waists were belts heavily
  loaded with the same material. Their head-dresses were more showy
  than those of the men. The head was encircled with a bandeau of
  otters’ or beavers’ fur, to which were attached short wires standing
  out in all directions, with glass or shell beads strung on them, and
  at the tips little feather flags and quail plumes. Surmounting all
  was a pyramidal plume of feathers, black, gray, and scarlet, the top
  generally being a bright scarlet bunch, waving and tossing very
  beautifully. All these combined gave their heads a very brilliant
  and spangled appearance.

  The first day the dance was slow and funereal, in honor of the
  Yo-kaí-a chief who died a short time before. The music was mournful
  and simple, being a monotonous chant in which only two tones were
  used, accompanied with a rattling of split sticks and stamping on a
  hollow slab. The second day the dance was more lively on the part of
  the men, the music was better, employing airs which had a greater
  range of tune, and the women generally joined in the chorus. The
  dress of the women was not so beautiful, as they appeared in
  ordinary calico. The third day, if observed in accordance with
  Indian custom, the dancing was still more lively and the proceedings
  more gay, just as the coming home from a Christian funeral is apt to
  be much more jolly than the going out.

  A Yo-kaí-a widow’s style of mourning is peculiar. In addition to the
  usual evidences of grief, she mingles the ashes of her dead husband
  with pitch, making a white tar or unguent, with which she smears a
  band about two inches wide all around the edge of the hair (which is
  previously cut off close to the head), so that at a little distance
  she appears to be wearing a white chaplet.

  It is their custom to “feed the spirits of the dead” for the space
  of one year by going daily to places which they were accustomed to
  frequent while living, where they sprinkle pinole upon the ground.
  A Yo-kaí-a mother who has lost her babe goes every day for a year to
  some place where her little one played when alive, or to the spot
  where the body was burned, and milks her breasts into the air. This
  is accompanied by plaintive mourning and weeping and piteous calling
  upon her little one to return, and sometimes she sings a hoarse and
  melancholy chant, and dances with a wild static swaying of the body.


It has nearly always been customary to sing songs at not only funerals,
but for varying periods of time afterwards, although these chants may no
doubt occasionally have been simply wailing or mournful ejaculation.
A writer[100] mentions it as follows:

  At almost all funerals there is an irregular crying kind of singing,
  with no accompaniments, but generally all do not sing the same
  melody at the same time in unison. Several may sing the same song
  and at the same time, but each begins and finishes when he or she
  may wish. Often for weeks, or even months, after the decease of a
  dear friend, a living one, usually a woman, will sit by her house
  and sing or cry by the hour, and they also sing for a short time
  when they visit the grave or meet an esteemed friend whom they have
  not seen since the decease. At the funeral both men and women sing.
  No. 11 I have heard more frequently some time after the funeral, and
  No. 12 at the time of the funeral, by the Twanas. (For song see
  p. 251 of the magazine quoted.) The words are simply an exclamation
  of grief, as our word “alas,” but they also have other words which
  they use, and sometimes they use merely the syllable _la_. Often the
  notes are sung in this order, and sometimes not, but in some order
  the notes _do_ and _la_, and occasionally _mi_, are sung.

Some pages back will be found a reference, and the words of a peculiar
death dirge sung by the Senèl of California, as related by Mr. Powers.
It is as follows:


    [Illustration: FIG. 33.--Ghost Gamble.]

Mr. John Campbell, of Montreal, Canada, has kindly called the attention
of the writer to death songs very similar in character; for instance,
the Basques of Spain ululate thus:

  Lelo il Lelo, Lelo dead Lelo,
  Lelo il Lelo,
  Lelo zarat, Lelo zara,
  Il Lelon killed Lelo.

This was called the “ululating Lelo.” Mr. Campbell says:

  This again connects with the Linus or Ailinus of the Greeks and
  Egyptians * * * which Wilkinson connects with the Coptic “ya
  lay-lee-ya lail.” The Alleluia which Lescarbot heard the South
  Americans sing must have been the same wail. The Greek verb
  ὀλολύζω and the Latin ululare, with an English howl and wail,
  are probably derived from this ancient form of lamentation.

In our own time a writer on the manner and customs of the Creeks
describes a peculiar alleluia or hallelujah he heard, from which he
inferred that the American Indians must be the descendants of the lost
tribes of Israel.


It is not proposed to describe under this heading examples of those
athletic and gymnastic performances following the death of a person
which have been described by Lafitau, but simply to call attention to a
practice as a secondary or adjunct part of the funeral rites, which
consists in gambling for the possession of the property of the defunct.
Dr. Charles E. McChesney, U.S.A., who for some time was stationed among
the Wahpeton and Sisseton Sioux, furnishes a detailed and interesting
account of what is called the “ghost gamble.” This is played with marked
wild-plum stones. So far as ascertained it is peculiar to the Sioux.
Figure 33 appears as a fair illustration of the manner in which this
game is played.

  After the death of a wealthy Indian the near relatives take charge
  of the effects, and at a stated time--usually at the time of the
  first feast held over the bundle containing the lock of hair--they
  are divided into many small piles, so as to give all the Indians
  invited to play an opportunity to win something. One Indian is
  selected to represent the ghost and he plays against all the others,
  who are not required to stake anything on the result, but simply
  invited to take part in the ceremony, which is usually held in the
  lodge of the dead person, in which is contained the bundle inclosing
  the lock of hair. In cases where the ghost himself is not wealthy
  the stakes are furnished by his rich friends, should he have any.
  The players are called in one at a time, and play singly against the
  ghost’s representative, the gambling being done in recent years by
  means of cards. If the invited player succeeds in beating the ghost,
  he takes one of the piles of goods and passes out, when another is
  invited to play, &c., until all the piles of goods are won. In cases
  of men only the men play, and in cases of women the women only take
  part in the ceremony.

  Before white men came among these Indians and taught them many of
  his improved vices, this game was played by means of figured
  plum-seeds, the men using eight and the women seven seeds, figured
  as follows, and shown in Figure 34.

  Two seeds are simply blackened on one side, the reverse containing
  nothing. Two seeds are black on one side, with a small spot of the
  color of the seed left in the center, the reverse side having a
  black spot in the center, the body being plain. Two seeds have a
  buffalo’s head on one side and the reverse simply two crossed black
  lines. There is but one seed of this kind in the set used by the
  women. Two seeds have half of one side blackened and the rest left
  plain, so as to represent a half moon; the reverse has a black
  longitudinal line crossed at right angles by six small ones. There
  are six throws whereby the player can win, and five that entitle him
  to another throw. The winning throws are as follows, each winner
  taking a pile of the ghost’s goods:

    [Illustration: FIG. 45.--Auxiliary throw No 5.]

  Two plain ones up, two plain with black spots up, buffalo’s head up,
  and two half moons up wins a pile. Two plain black ones up, two
  black with natural spots up, two longitudinally crossed ones up, and
  the transversely crossed one up wins a pile. Two plain black ones
  up, two black with natural spots up, two half moons up, and the
  transversely crossed one up wins a pile. Two plain black ones, two
  black with natural spots up, two half moons up, and the buffalo’s
  head up wins a pile. Two plain ones up, two with black spots up, two
  longitudinally crossed ones up, and the transversely crossed one up
  wins a pile. Two plain ones up, two with black spots up, buffalo’s
  head up, and two long crossed up wins a pile. The following
  auxiliary throws entitle to another chance to win: two plain ones
  up, two with black spots up, one half moon up, one longitudinally
  crossed one up, and buffalo’s head up gives another throw, and on
  this throw, if the two plain ones up and two with black spots with
  either of the half moons or buffalo’s head up, the player takes a
  pile. Two plain ones up, two with black spots up, two half moons up,
  and the transversely crossed one up entitles to another throw, when,
  if all of the black sides come up, excepting one, the throw wins.
  One of the plain ones up and all the rest with black sides up gives
  another throw, and the same then turning up wins. One of the plain
  black ones up with that side up of all the others having the least
  black on gives another throw, when the same turning up again wins.
  One half moon up, with that side up of all the others having the
  least black on gives another throw, and if the throw is then
  duplicated it wins. The eighth seed, used by the men, has its place
  in their game whenever its facings are mentioned above. I transmit
  with this paper a set of these figured seeds, which can be used to
  illustrate the game if desired. These seeds are said to be nearly a
  hundred years old, and sets of them are now very rare.

    [Illustration: FIG. 34.--Figured Plum Stones.]

    [Illustration: FIG. 35.--Winning Throw No. 1.]

    [Illustration: FIG. 36.--Winning Throw No. 2.]

    [Illustration: FIG. 37.--Winning Throw No. 3.]

    [Illustration: FIG. 38.--Winning Throw No. 4.]

    [Illustration: FIG. 39.--Winning Throw No. 5.]

    [Illustration: FIG. 40.--Winning Throw No. 6.]

    [Illustration: FIG. 41.--Auxiliary Throw No. 1.]

    [Illustration: FIG. 42.--Auxiliary Throw No. 2.]

    [Illustration: FIG. 43.--Auxiliary Throw No. 3.]

    [Illustration: FIG. 44.--Auxiliary Throw No. 4.]

    [Illustration: FIG. 46.--Grave Posts.]

For assisting in obtaining this account Dr. McChesney acknowledges his
indebtedness to Dr. C. C. Miller, physician to the Sisseton Indian

Figures 35 to 45 represent the appearance of the plum stones and the
different throws; these have been carefully drawn from the set of stones
sent by Dr. McChesney.


These are placed at the head or foot of the grave, or at both ends, and
have painted or carved on them a history of the deceased or his family,
certain totemic characters, or, according to Schoolcraft, not the
achievements of the dead, but of those warriors who assisted and danced
at the interment. The northwest tribes and others frequently plant poles
near the graves, suspending therefrom bite of rag, flags, horses’ tails,
&c. The custom among the present Indians does not exist to any extent.
Beltrami[101] speaks of it as follows:

  Here I saw a most singular union. One of these graves was surmounted
  by a cross, whilst upon another close to it a trunk of a tree was
  raised, covered with hieroglyphics recording the number of enemies
  slain by the tenant of the tomb and several of his tutelary

The following extract from Schoolcraft[102] relates to the burial posts
used by the Sioux and Chippewas. Figure 46 is after the picture given by
this author in connection with the account quoted:

  Among the Sioux and Western Chippewas, after the body had been
  wrapped in its best clothes and ornaments, it is then placed on a
  scaffold or in a tree until the flesh is entirely decayed, after
  which the bones are buried and grave-posts fixed. At the head of the
  grave a tubular piece of cedar or other wood, called the
  _adjedatig_, is set. This grave-board contains the symbolic or
  representative figure, which records, if it be a warrior, his totem,
  that is to say the symbol of his family, or surname, and such
  arithmetical or other devices as seem to denote how many times the
  deceased has been in war parties, and how many scalps he has taken
  from the enemy--two facts from which his reputation is essentially
  to be derived. It is seldom that more is attempted in the way of
  inscription. Often, however, distinguished chiefs have their war
  flag, or, in modern days, a small ensign of American fabric,
  displayed on a standard at the head of their graves, which is left
  to fly over the deceased till it is wasted by the elements. Scalps
  of their enemies, feathers of the bald or black eagle, the
  swallow-tailed falcon, or some carnivorous bird, are also placed, in
  such instances, on the _adjedatig_, or suspended, with offerings of
  various kinds, on a separate staff. But the latter are
  superadditions of a religious character, and belong to the class of
  the Ke-ke-wa-o-win-an-tig (_ante_, No. 4). The building of a funeral
  fire on recent graves is also a rite which belongs to the
  consideration of their religious faith.


It is extremely difficult to determine why the custom of building fires
on or near graves was originated, some authors stating that the soul
thereby underwent a certain process of purification, others that demons
were driven away by them, and again that they were to afford light to
the wandering soul setting out for the spirit land. One writer states

  The Algonkins believed that the fire lighted nightly on the grave
  was to light the spirit on its journey. By a coincidence to be
  explained by the universal sacredness of the number, both Algonkins
  and Mexicans maintained it for four nights consecutively. The former
  related the tradition that one of their ancestors returned from the
  spirit land and informed their nation that the journey thither
  consumed just four days, and that collecting fuel every night added
  much to the toil and fatigue the soul encountered, all of which
  could be spared it.

So it would appear that the belief existed that the fire was also
intended to assist the spirit in preparing its repast.

Stephen Powers[103] gives a tradition current among the Yurok of
California as to the use of fires:

  After death they keep a fire burning certain nights in the vicinity
  of the grave. They hold and believe, at least the “Big Indians” do,
  that the spirits of the departed are compelled to cross an extremely
  attenuated greasy pole, which bridges over the chasm of the
  debatable land, and that they require the fire to light them on
  their darksome journey. A righteous soul traverses the pole quicker
  than a wicked one, hence they regulate the number of nights for
  burning a light according to the character for goodness or the
  opposite which the deceased possessed in this world.

Dr. Emil Bessels, of the Polaris expedition, informs the writer that a
somewhat similar belief obtains among the Esquimaux.

Figure 47 is a fair illustration of a grave-fire; it also shows one of
the grave-posts mentioned in a previous section.

    [Illustration: FIG. 47.--Grave Fire.]


An entire volume might well be written which should embrace only an
account of the superstitious regarding death and burial among the
Indians, so thoroughly has the matter been examined and discussed by
various authors, and yet so much still remains to be commented on, but
in this work, which is mainly tentative, and is hoped will be
provocative of future efforts, it is deemed sufficient to give only a
few accounts. The first is by Dr. W. Mathews, United States Army,[104]
and relates to the Hidatsa:

  When a Hidatsa dies, his shade lingers four nights around the camp
  or village in which he died, and then goes to the lodge of his
  departed kindred in the “village of the dead.” When he has arrived
  there he is rewarded for his valor, self-denial, and ambition on
  earth by receiving the same regard in the one place as in the other,
  for there as here the brave man is honored and the coward despised.
  Some say that the ghosts of those that commit suicide occupy a
  separate part of the village, but that their condition differs in no
  wise from that of the others. In the next world human shades hunt
  and live in the shades of buffalo and other animals that have here
  died. There, too there are four seasons, but they come in an inverse
  order to the terrestrial seasons. During the four nights that the
  ghost is supposed to linger near his former dwelling, those who
  disliked or feared the deceased, and do not wish a visit from the
  shade, scorch with red coals a pair of moccasins which they leave at
  the door of the lodge. The smell of the burning leather they claim
  keeps the ghost out; but the true friends of the dead man take no
  such precautions.

From this account it will be seen that the Hidatsa as well as the
Algonkins and Mexicans believed that four days were required before the
spirit could finally leave the earth. Why the smell of burning leather
should be offensive to spirits it would perhaps be fruitless to
speculate on.

The next account, by Keating,[105] relating to the Chippewas, shows a
slight analogy regarding the slippery-pole tradition already alluded to:

  The Chippewas believe that there is in man an essence entirely
  distinct from the body; they call it _Ochechag_, and appear to
  supply to it the qualities which we refer to the soul. They believe
  that it quits the body it the time of death, and repairs to what
  they term _Chekechekchekawe_; this region is supposed to be situated
  to the south, and on the shores of the great ocean. Previous to
  arriving there they meet with a stream which they are obliged to
  cross upon a large snake that answers the purpose of a bridge; those
  who die from drowning never succeed in crossing the stream; they are
  thrown into it and remain there forever. Some souls come to the edge
  of the stream, but are prevented from passing by the snake, which
  threatens to devour them; these are the souls of the persons in a
  lethargy or trance. Being refused a passage these souls return to
  their bodies and reanimate them. They believe that animals have
  souls, and even that inorganic substances, such as kettles, &c.,
  have in them a similar essence.

  In this land of souls all are treated according to their merits.
  Those who have been good men are free from pain; they have no duties
  to perform, their time is spent in dancing and singing, and they
  feed upon mushrooms, which are very abundant. The souls of bad men
  are haunted by the phantom of the persons or things that they have
  injured; thus, if a man has destroyed much property the phantoms of
  the wrecks of this property obstruct his passage wherever he goes;
  if he has been cruel to his dogs or horses they also torment him
  after death. The ghosts of those whom during his lifetime he wronged
  are there permitted to avenge their injuries. They think that when a
  soul has crossed the stream it cannot return to its body, yet they
  believe in apparitions, and entertain the opinion that the spirits
  of the departed will frequently revisit the abodes of their friends
  in order to invite them to the other world, and to forewarn them of
  their approaching dissolution.

Stephen Powers, in his valuable work so often quoted, gives a number of
examples of superstitions regarding the dead, of which the following
relates to the Karok of California:

  How well and truly the Karok reverence the memory of the dead is
  shown by the fact that the highest crime one can commit is the
  _pet-chi-é-ri_ the mere mention of the dead relative’s name. It is a
  deadly insult to the survivors, and can be atoned for only by the
  same amount of blood-money paid for willful murder. In default of
  that they will have the villain’s blood. * * * At the mention of his
  name the mouldering skeleton turns in his grave and groans. They do
  not like stragglers even to inspect the burial place. * * * They
  believe that the soul of a good Karok goes to the “happy western
  land” beyond the great ocean. That they have a well-grounded
  assurance of an immortality beyond the grave is proven, if not
  otherwise, by their beautiful and poetical custom of whispering a
  message in the ear of the dead. * * * Believe that dancing will
  liberate some relative’s soul from bonds of death, and restore him
  to earth.

According to the same author, when a Kelta dies a little bird flies away
with his soul to the spirit land. If he was a bad Indian a hawk will
catch the little bird and eat him up, soul and feathers, but if he was
good he will reach the spirit land. Mr. Powers also states that--

  The Tolowa share in the superstitious observance for the memory of
  the dead which is common to the Northern Californian tribes. When I
  asked the chief Tahhokolli to tell me the Indian words for “father”
  and “mother” and certain others similar, he shook his head
  mournfully and said, “All dead,” “All dead,” “No good.” They are
  forbidden to mention the name of the dead, as it is a deadly insult
  to the relatives, * * * and that the Mat-tóal hold that the good
  depart to a happy region somewhere southward in the great ocean, but
  the soul of a bad Indian transmigrates into a grizzly bear, which
  they consider, of all animals, the cousin-german of sin.

The same author who has been so freely quoted states as follows
regarding some of the superstitions and beliefs of the Modocs:

  * * * It has always been one of the most passionate desires among
  the Modok, as well as their neighbors, the Shastika, to live, die,
  and be buried where they were born. Some of their usages in regard
  to the dead and their burial may be gathered from an incident that
  occurred while the captives of 1873 were on their way from the Lava
  Beds to Fort Klamath, as it was described by an eye-witness.
  Curly-headed Jack, a prominent warrior, committed suicide with a
  pistol. His mother and female friends gathered about him and set up
  a dismal wailing; they besmeared themselves with his blood and
  endeavored by other Indian customs to restore his life. The mother
  took his head in her lap and scooped the blood from his ear, another
  old woman placed her hand upon his heart, and a third blew in his
  face. The sight of the group--these poor old women, whose grief was
  unfeigned, and the dying man--was terrible in its sadness. Outside
  the tent stood Bogus-Charley, Huka Jim, Shucknasty Jim, Steamboat
  Frank, Curly-headed Doctor, and others who had been the dying man’s
  companions from childhood, all affected to tears. When he was
  lowered into the grave, before the soldiers began to cover the body,
  Huka Jim was seen running eagerly about the camp trying to exchange
  a two-dollar bill of currency for silver. He owed the dead warrior
  that amount of money, and he had grave doubts whether the currency
  would be of any use to him in the other world--sad commentary on our
  national currency!--and desired to have the coin instead. Procuring
  it from one of the soldiers he cast it in and seemed greatly
  relieved. All the dead man’s other effects, consisting of clothing,
  trinkets, and a half dollar, were interred with him, together with
  some root-flour as victual for the journey to the spirit land.

The superstitious fear Indians have of the dead or spirit of the dead
may be observed from the following narrative by Swan.[106] It regards
the natives of Washington Territory:

  My opinion about the cause of these deserted villages is this: It is
  the universal custom with these Indians never to live in a lodge
  where a person has died. If a person of importance dies, the lodge
  is usually burned down, or taken down and removed to some other part
  of the bay; and it can be readily seen that in the case of the Palux
  Indians, who had been attacked by the Chehalis people, as before
  stated, their relatives chose at once to leave for some other place.
  This objection to living in a lodge where a person has died is the
  reason why their sick slaves are invariably carried out into the
  woods, where they remain either to recover or die. There is,
  however, no disputing the fact that an immense mortality has
  occurred among these people, and they are now reduced to a mere

  The great superstitious dread these Indians have for a dead person,
  and their horror of touching a corpse, oftentimes give rise to a
  difficulty as to who shall perform the funeral ceremonies; for any
  person who handles a dead body must not eat of salmon or sturgeon
  for thirty days. Sometimes, in cases of small-pox, I have known them
  leave the corpse in the lodge, and all remove elsewhere; and in two
  instances that came to my knowledge, the whites had to burn the
  lodges, with the bodies in them, to prevent infection.

  So, in the instances I have before mentioned, where we had buried
  Indians, not one of their friends or relatives could be seen. All
  kept in their lodges, singing and drumming to keep away the spirits
  of the dead.

According to Bancroft[107]--

  The Tlascaltecs supposed that the common people were after death
  transformed into beetles and disgusting objects, while the nobler
  became stars and beautiful birds.

The Mosquito Indians of Central America studiously and superstitiously
avoid mentioning the name of the dead, in this regard resembling those
of our own country.

Enough of illustrative examples have now been given, it is thought, to
enable observers to thoroughly comprehend the scope of the proposed
final volume on the mortuary customs of North American Indians, and
while much more might have been added from the stored-up material on
hand, it has not been deemed advisable at this time to yield to a desire
for amplification. The reader will notice, as in the previous paper,
that discussion has been avoided as foreign to the present purpose of
the volume, which is intended, as has been already stated, simply to
induce further investigation and contribution from careful and
conscientious observers. From a perusal of the excerpts from books and
correspondence given will be seen what facts are useful and needed; in
short, most of them may serve as copies for preparation of similar

To assist observers, the queries published in the former volume are also

_1st._ NAME OF THE TRIBE; present appellation; former, if differing any;
and that used by the Indians themselves.

_2d._ LOCALITY, PRESENT AND FORMER.--The response should give the range
of the tribe and be full and geographically accurate.

_3d._ DEATHS AND FUNERAL CEREMONIES; what are the important and
characteristic facts connected with these subjects? How is the corpse
prepared after death and disposed of? How long is it retained? Is it
spoken to after death as if alive? when and where? What is the character
of the addresses? What articles are deposited with it; and why? Is food
put in the grave, or in or near it afterwards? Is this said to be an
ancient custom? Are persons of the same gens buried together; and is the
clan distinction obsolete, or did it ever prevail?

THE GRAVES; CREMATION.--Are burials usually made in high and dry
grounds? Have mounds or tumuli been erected in modern times over the
dead? How is the grave prepared and finished? What position are bodies
placed in? Give reasons therefor if possible. If cremation is or was
practiced, describe the process, disposal of the ashes, and origin of
custom or traditions relating thereto. Are the dead ever eaten by the
survivors? Are bodies deposited in springs or in any body of water? Are
scaffolds or trees used as burial places; if so, describe construction
of the former and how the corpse is prepared, and whether placed in
skins or boxes. Are bodies placed in canoes? State whether they are
suspended from trees, put on scaffolds or posts, allowed to float on the
water or sunk beneath it, or buried in the ground. Can any reasons be
given for the prevalence of any one or all of the methods? Are burial
posts or slabs used, plain, or marked, with flags or other insignia of
position of deceased. Describe embalmment, mummification, desiccation,
or if antiseptic precautions are taken, and subsequent disposal of
remains. Are bones collected and reinterred; describe ceremonies, if
any, whether modern or ancient. If charnel houses exist or have been
used, describe them.

_5th._ MOURNING OBSERVANCES.--Is scarification practiced, or personal
mutilation? What is the garb or sign of mourning? How are the dead
lamented? Are periodical visits made to the grave? Do widows carry
symbols of their deceased children or husbands, and for how long? Are
sacrifices, human or otherwise, voluntary or involuntary, offered? Are
fires kindled on graves; why, and at what time, and for how long?

_6th._ BURIAL TRADITIONS AND SUPERSTITIONS.--Give in full all that can
be learned on these subjects, as they are full of interest and very

In short, every fact bearing on the disposal of the dead; and
correlative customs are needed, and details should be as succinct and
full as possible.

One of the most important matters upon which information is needed is
the “why” and “wherefore” for every rite and custom; for, as a rule,
observers are content to simply state a certain occurrence as a fact,
but take very little trouble to inquire the reason for it.

Any material the result of careful observation will be most gratefully
received and acknowledged in the final volume; but the writer must here
confess the lasting obligation he is under to those who have already
contributed, a number so large that limited space precludes a mention of
their individual names.

Criticism and comments are earnestly invited from all those interested
in the special subject of this paper and anthropology in general.
Contributions are also requested from persons acquainted with curious
forms of burial prevailing among other tribes of savage men.

The lithographs which illustrate this paper have been made by Thos.
Sinclair & Son, of Philadelphia, Pa., after original drawings made by
Mr. W. H. Holmes, who has with great kindness superintended their


    [Footnote 1: Hist. Ind. Tribes of U.S., 1853, pt. 3, p. 193.]

    [Footnote 2: Antiq. of Southern Indians, 1873, pp. 108-110.]

    [Footnote 3: Hist. of Carolina, 1714, p. 181.]

    [Footnote 4: Hist. Ind. Tribes of U.S., 1855, pt. 5, p. 270.]

    [Footnote 5: Rep. Smithsonian Institution, 1871, p. 407.]

    [Footnote 6: Voy. dans l’Arizona, in Bull. Soc. de Géographie,

    [Footnote 7: Nat. Races Pacif. States 1874, vol. 1, p. 555.]

    [Footnote 8: Cont. to N. A. Ethnol., 1877, vol. iii, p. 133.]

    [Footnote 9: L’incertitude des Signes de la Mort, 1749, t. 1,
    p. 439.]

    [Footnote 10: Rites of Funeral, Ancient and Modern, 1683, p. 45.]

    [Footnote 11: Schoolcraft Hist. Ind. Tribes of the United States,
    1853, Pt. 3, p. 140.]

    [Footnote 12: U.S. Geol. Surv. of Terr. 1876, p. 473.]

    [Footnote 13: Life and adventures of Moses Van Campen, 1841,
    p. 252.]

    [Footnote 14: Trans. Amer. Antiq. Soc., 1830, vol i, p. 302.]

    [Footnote 15: Antiquities of Tennessee. Smith. Inst. Cont. to
    Knowledge. No. 259, 1876. Pp. 1, 8, 37, 52, 55, 82.]

    [Footnote 16: Pop. Sc. Month., Sept., 1877, p. 577.]

    [Footnote 17: Nat. Races of the Pacific States, 1874, vol. i,
    p. 780.]

    [Footnote 18: A detailed account of this exploration, with many
    illustrations, will be found in the Eleventh Annual Report of the
    Peabody Museum, Cambridge, 1878.]

    [Footnote 19: Trans. Amer. Antiq. Soc., 1820, vol. i, p. 174 _et

    [Footnote 20: American Naturalist, 1877, xi, No. 11, p. 688.]

    [Footnote 21: Proc. Am. Ass. Adv. of Science, 1875, p. 288.]

    [Footnote 22: Bartram’s Travels, 1791, p. 513.]

    [Footnote 23: Bartram’s Travels, 1791, p. 515.]

    [Footnote 24: A Concise Nat. Hist. of East and West Florida,

    [Footnote 25: Mem. Hist. sur la Louisiane, 1753, vol. i, pp.

    [Footnote 26: Uncivilized Races of the World, 1870, vol i,
    p. 464.]

    [Footnote 27: Rep. Smithsonian Inst., 1867, p. 406.]

    [Footnote 28: Contrib. to N. A. Ethnol., 1877, vol. 1, p. 62.]

    [Footnote 29: Hist. of Virginia, 1722, p. 185.]

    [Footnote 30: Collection of Voyages, 1812, vol. xiii, p. 39.]

    [Footnote 31: Hist. Ind. Tribes United States, 1854, Part IV, pp.
    155 _et seq._]

    [Footnote 32: Trans. Amer. Antiq. Soc., 1820, vol. 1, p. 360.]

    [Footnote 33: Letter to Samuel M. Burnside, in Trans. and Coll.
    Amer. Antiq. Soc., 1820, vol. 1, p. 318.]

    [Footnote 34: A mummy of this kind, of a person of mature age,
    discovered in Kentucky, is now in the cabinet of the American
    Antiquarian Society. It is a female. Several human bodies were
    found enwrapped carefully in skins and cloths. They were inhumed
    below the floor of the cave; _inhumed_, and not lodged in

    [Footnote 35: Cont. to N. A. Ethnol., 1877, vol. i, p. 89.]

    [Footnote 36: Billings’ Exped., 1802, p. 161.]

    [Footnote 37: Pre-historic Races, 1873, p. 199.]

    [Footnote 38: Rawlinson’s Herodotus, Book i, chap. 198, _note_.]

    [Footnote 39: Amer. Naturalist, 1876, vol. x, p. 455 et seq.]

    [Footnote 40: Manners, Customs, &c., of North American Indians,
    1844, vol. ii, p. 5.]

    [Footnote 41: Uncivilized Races of the World, 1870, vol. i,
    p. 483.]

    [Footnote 42: Hist. de l’Amérique Septentrionale, 1753, tome ii,
    p. 43.]

    [Footnote 43: Pioneer Life, 1872.]

    [Footnote 44: I saw the body of this woman in the tree. It was
    undoubtedly an exceptional case. When I came here (Rock Island)
    the bluffs on the peninsula between Mississippi and Rock River
    (three miles distant) were thickly studded with Indian grave
    mounds, showing conclusively that subterranean was the usual mode
    of burial. In making roads, streets, and digging foundations,
    skulls, bones, trinkets, beads, etc., in great numbers, were
    exhumed, proving that many things (according to the wealth or
    station of survivors) were deposited in the graves. In 1836 I
    witnessed the burial of two chiefs in the manner stated.
    --P. GREGG.]

    [Footnote 45: Tract No. 50, West. Reserve and North. Ohio Hist.
    Soc. (1879?), p. 107.]

    [Footnote 46: Hist. of Ft. Wayne, 1868, p. 284.]

    [Footnote 47: The Last Act, 1876.]

    [Footnote 48: Cont. to N. A. Ethnol., 1877, vol. iii, p. 341.]

    [Footnote 49: Hist. Indian Tribes of the United States, 1854, part
    IV, p. 224.]

    [Footnote 50: Adventures on the Columbia River, 1831, vol. ii,
    p. 387.]

    [Footnote 51: Trans. Am. Antiq. Soc., 1820, vol. i, p. 377.]

    [Footnote 52: Hist. Indian Tribes of the United States, 1853, part
    iii, p. 112.]

    [Footnote 53: Contrib. to N. A. Ethnol., 1877, vol iii, p. 169.]

    [Footnote 54: Amer. Naturalist, November, 1878, p. 753.]

    [Footnote 55: Proc. Dav. Acad. Nat. Sci., 1867-’76, p. 64.]

    [Footnote 56: Pre-historic Races, 1873, p. 149.]

    [Footnote 57: Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. Phila., Nov. 1874, p. 168.]

    [Footnote 58: Amer. Naturalist, Sept., 1878, p. 629.]

    [Footnote 59: Explorations of the Valley of the Great Salt Lake of
    Utah, 1852, p. 43.]

    [Footnote 60: Narrative of a Voyage to the Pacific, 1831, vol. i,
    p. 332.]

    [Footnote 61: Nat. Races of Pac. States, 1871, vol. i, p. 780.]

    [Footnote 62: Am. Antiq. and Discov., 1838, p. 286.]

    [Footnote 63: Nat. Races of Pac. States, 1874 vol. i, p. 69.]

    [Footnote 64: Travels in Alaska, 1869, p. 100.]

    [Footnote 65: Alaska and its Resources, 1870, pp. 19, 132, 145.]

    [Footnote 66: Life on the Plains, 1854, p. 68.]

    [Footnote 67: Tour to the Lakes, 1827, p. 305.]

    [Footnote 68: Long’s Exped. to the St. Peter’s River, 1824,
    p. 332.]

    [Footnote 69: L’incertitude des signes de la Mort, 1742, tome i,
    p. 475, _et seq._]

    [Footnote 70: The writer is informed by Mr. John Henry Boner that
    the custom still prevails not only in Pennsylvania, but at the
    Moravian settlement of Salem, N.C.]

    [Footnote 71: Rep. Smithsonian Inst., 1866, p. 319.]

    [Footnote 72: Uncivilized Races of the World, 1874, v. ii, p. 774,
    _et seq._]

    [Footnote 73: Hist. of Florida, 1775, p. 88.]

    [Footnote 74: Antiquities of the Southern Indians, 1873, p. 105.]

    [Footnote 75: Bartram’s Travels, 1791, p. 516.]

    [Footnote 76: “Some ingenious men whom I have conversed with have
    given it as their opinion that all those pyramidal artificial
    hills, usually called Indian mounds, were raised on this occasion,
    and are generally sepulchers. However, I am of different

    [Footnote 77: League of the Iroquois, 1851, p. 173.]

    [Footnote 78: Myths of the New World, 1868, p. 255.]

    [Footnote 79: Hist. N. A. Indians, 1844, i, p. 90.]

    [Footnote 80: Northwest Coast, 1857, p. 185.]

    [Footnote 81: Cont. N. A. Ethnol., 1877, i., p. 200.]

    [Footnote 82: Uncivilized Races of the World, 1870, vol. i,
    p. 483.]

    [Footnote 83: Exploration Great Salt Lake Valley, Utah, 1859,
    p. 48.]

    [Footnote 84: Hist. North American Indians, 1844, vol. ii,
    p. 141.]

    [Footnote 85: Mœurs des Sauvages, 1724, tome ii, p. 406.]

    [Footnote 86: Autobiography of James Beckwourth, 1856, p. 269.]

    [Footnote 87: Tour to the Lakes, 1827, p. 292.]

    [Footnote 88: Nat. Races of Pacific States, 1874, vol. i, pp. 731,

    [Footnote 89: Life Among the Choctaws, 1860, p. 294.]

    [Footnote 90: Bossu’s Travels (Forster’s translation), 1771,
    p. 38.]

    [Footnote 91: At the hour intended for the ceremony, they made the
    victims swallow little balls or pills of tobacco, in order to make
    them giddy, and as it were to take the sensation of pain from
    them; after that they were all strangled and put upon mats, the
    favorite on the right, the other wife on the left, and the others
    according to their rank.]

    [Footnote 92: The established distinctions among these Indians
    were as follows: The Suns, relatives of the Great Sun, held the
    highest rank; next come the Nobles; after them the Honorables; and
    last of all the common people, who were very much despised. As the
    nobility was propagated by the women, this contributed much to
    multiply it.]

    [Footnote 93: The Great Sun had given orders to put out all the
    fires, which is only done at the death of the sovereign.]

    [Footnote 94: Ten Years in Oregon, 1850, p. 261.]

    [Footnote 95: Nat. Races of Pacif. States, 1875, vol iii, p. 513.]

    [Footnote 96: Pilgrimage, 1828, vol. ii, p. 443.]

    [Footnote 97: Canadian Red River Exploring Expedition, 1860, ii,
    p. 164.]

    [Footnote 98: League of the Iroquois, 1851, p. 287.]

    [Footnote 99: Cont. to North American Ethnol., 1878, iii, p. 164.]

    [Footnote 100: Am. Antiq., April, May, June, 1879, p. 251.]

    [Footnote 101: Pilgrimage, 1828, ii, p. 308.]

    [Footnote 102: Hist. Indian Tribes of the United States, 1851,
    part i, p. 356.]

    [Footnote 103: Cont. to N. A. Ethnol., 1877, vol. ii., p. 58.]

    [Footnote 104: Ethnol. and Philol. of the Hidatsa Indians. U.S.
    Geol. Surv. of Terr., 1877, p. 409.]

    [Footnote 105: Long’s Exped., 1824, vol. ii, p. 158.]

    [Footnote 106: Northwest Coast, 1857, p. 212.]

    [Footnote 107: Nat. Races Pacif. States, 1875, vol. iii, p. 512.]


  Abiquiu, Ancient cemetery of  111
  Acaxers and Yaquis, cairn burial  143
  “Adjedatig”  197
  Aerial burial in canoes, Chinooks  171
  ---- sepulture,  152
  Alaric’s burial  181
  Alaska cave burial  129
  Alaskan mummies  134, 135
  Alden, E. H., Scaffold burial  161
  Aleutian Islanders, embalmment  135, 136
  Algonkins, Burial fires of the  198
  Alibamans, Aquatic burial of suicides by  180
  Allen, Miss A. J., Burial sacrifice  189
  Ancient burial customs of barbaric tribes  152
  ---- cemetery of Abiquiu  111
  ---- nations, Tree burial of  165, 166
  Ancients, Curious mourning observances  165, 166
  Antiquity of cremation  143
  Apingi burial  125, 126
  Aquatic burial, Alibamans, of suicides  180
  ---- Cherokees  180
  ---- Chinooks  180
  ---- Gosh-Utes  181
  ---- Hyperboreans  180
  ---- Ichthyophagi  180
  ---- Itzas  180
  ---- Kavague  180
  ---- Lotophagians  180
  ---- Obongo  180
  Ascena or Timber Indians  103
  Atwater, Caleb, Burial mounds  117
  Australian scaffold burial  167
  Aztecs and Taracos, Burial sacrifice  190
  Baldwin, C. C., Pottawatomie surface burial  141
  Balearic Islanders, Cairn burial  143
  Bancroft, H. H., Burial sacrifice  190
  ----, Canoe burial in ground  112
  ----, Costa Rica hut burial  154
  ----, Doracho cist burial  115
  ----, Esquimaux burial boxes  155
  ----, Mourning, Central Americans  185
  ----, Pima burial  98
  ----, Superstitions regarding dead  201
  Barbaric tribes, Ancient burial customs of  152
  Barber, E. A., Burial urns  138
  ----, Partial cremation  151
  Bari of Africa, burial  125
  Bartram, John, Cabin burial  122
  ----, Choctaw ossuary  120
  ----, Partial scaffold burial  169
  Bechuana burial  126
  Beckwourth, James, Crow mourning  183
  Beechey, Capt. F. W., Lodge burial  154
  Beltrami, J. C., Burial feast  190
  ----, Burial posts  197
  Benson, H. C., Choctaw burial  186
  Bessels, Dr. Emil, Esquimaux superstition  198
  Beverly, Robert, Virginia mummies  131
  Birgan, Meaning of word  93
  Blackbird’s burial  139
  Blackfeet burial lodges  154
  ---- cairn burial  143
  ---- tree burial  161
  Bonaks, Cremation  144
  Bone cleaning of the dead  168
  Boner, J. H., Moravian mourning  166
  Bossu, M., Burial denied to suicides  180
  Boteler, Dr. W. C., Oto burial ceremonies  96
  Box burial, Creek, Choctaw, and Cherokee  155
  ----, Esquimaux  155, 156
  ----, Indians of Talomeco River  155
  ----, Innuits and Ingaliks  156, 158
  ----, Kalosh  156
  Bransford, Dr. J. C., U.S.N., Burial urns discovered by  138
  Brebeuf, Pere de, Burial feast  191
  Brice, W. A., Surface burial  141
  Brinton, Dr. D. G., Burial of collected bones  170
  Bruhier, J. J., Corsican customs  147
  ---- Persian burial  103
  Brule Sioux, tree and scaffold burial  158, 160
  Burchard, J. L., Pit burial  124
  Butterfield, H., Shoshone cairn burial  143
  Burial, Apingi  125, 126
  ----, Aquatic  180
  ---- canoes and houses  177-179
  ----, Bari of Africa  125
  ----, Bechuanas  126
  ---- beneath or in cabins, wigwams, or houses  122
  ----, Box  155
  ----, Carolina tribes  93
  ----, Caddos  103
  ----, Cairn  142
  ----, Cairn, Ute  142
  ---- case, Cheyenne  162, 163
  ----, Cave  126
  ----, Chieftain, of the  110, 111
  ----, Classification of  92-93
  ----, Damara  126
  ---- dance, Yo-kaí-a  192, 194
  ---- dances  193
  ---- feast, Description of, by Beltrami  190, 191
  ---- ----, Hurons, of the  191
  ---- feasts  190
  ---- ----, superstitions regarding  191
  ---- fires, Algonkins  198
  ---- ----, Yurok  198
  ---- ----, Esquimaux  198
  ---- food  192
  ---- games  195
  ----, Grave  101
  ----, Ground, in canoes  112
  ---- in logs  138, 139
  ---- in mounds  115
  ---- in standing posture  151, 152
  ----, Indians of Virginia  125
  ----, Iroquois  140
  ----, Kaffir  126
  ----, Klamath and Trinity Indians  106, 107
  ----, Latookas  126
  ----, Lodge  152
  ---- lodges, Blackfeet  154
  ---- ----, Cheyenne  154
  ---- ----, Shoshone  153, 154
  ----, Muscogulges  122, 123
  ----, Meaning and derivation of word  93
  ----, Moquis,  114
  ----, Navajo,  123
  ----, Obongo,  139, 140
  ---- of Alaric,  181
  ---- of Blackbird,  139
  ---- of De Soto,  181
  ---- of Long Horse,  153
  ---- of Ouray,  128
  ----, Parsee,  105, 106
  ----, Pit,  93
  ----, Pitt River Indians,  151
  ---- posts, Sioux and Chippewa,  197, 198
  ----, Round Valley Indians,  124
  ---- sacrifice, Aztecs and Tarascos,  190
  ---- ----, Indians of Northwest,  180
  ---- ----, Indians of Panama,  180
  ---- ----, Natchez,  187, 189
  ---- ----, Tsinūk,  179
  ---- ----, Wascopums,  189, 190
  ----, Sacs and Foxes,  94, 95
  ---- scaffolds,  162
  ---- song, Schiller’s,  110, 111
  ---- ---- of Basques and others,  195
  ---- superstitions, Chippewas,  199, 200
  ---- ----, Indians of Washington Territory,  201
  ---- ----, Karok,  200
  ---- ----, Kelta,  200
  ---- ----, Modocs,  200, 201
  ---- ----, Mosquito Indians,  201
  ---- ----, Tlascaltecs,  201
  ---- ----, Tolowa,  200
  ----, Surface,  138, 139
  ----, Urn,  137
  ---- ---- and cover, Georgia,  138
  ---- ----, New Mexico,  138

  Cabins, wigwams, or houses, Burial beneath or in,  122
  Caddos, Burial,  103
  Cairn burial, Acaxers and Yaquis,  143
  ----, Balearic Islanders,  143
  ----, Blackfeet,  143
  ----, Esquimaux,  143
  ----, Kiowas and Comanches,  142, 143
  ----, Pi-Utes,  143
  ----, Reasons for,  143
  ----, Shoshonis,  143
  Calaveras Cave,  128, 129
  California steatite burial urn,  138
  Campbell, John, Burial songs,  195
  Canes sepulchrales,  104
  Canoe burial in ground,  112
  ---- ----, Mosquito Indians,  112, 113
  ---- ----, Santa Barbara,  112
  ----, Clallam,  173, 174
  ----, Twana,  171, 173
  Canoes and houses, Burial,  177-179
  Canoes, Superterrene and aerial burial in,  171
  Caraibs, Verification of death,  146
  Carolina tribes, Burial among,  93
  Catlin, George, Burial of Blackbird,  139
  ----, Golgotha of Mandans,  170
  ----, Mourning cradle,  181
  Cave burial,  126
  ----, Alaska,  129
  ----, Calaveras,  128, 129
  ----, Utes,  127, 128
  Cherokee aquatic burial,  180
  Cheyenne burial case,  162, 163
  ---- lodges,  154
  Chillicothe mound,  117, 118
  Chinook aerial burial in canoes,  171
  ---- aquatic burial,  180
  ---- mourning cradle,  181, 182
  Chippewa burial superstitions,  199, 200
  ---- mourning,  184
  ---- scaffold burial,  161, 162
  ---- widow,  184, 185
  Choctaw mound burial,  120
  ---- scaffold burial,  169
  Choctaws funeral ceremonies,  186
  Cist burial, Doracho,  115
  ---- graves, Kentucky,  114, 115
  ---- ----, Indians of Illinois,  114
  Cists or stone graves,  113
  ----, Solutré,  113
  ----, Tennessee,  113
  Clallam canoe burial,  173, 174
  ---- house burial,  175
  Classification of burial,  92
  Cleveland, Wm. J., Tree and scaffold burial,  158
  Collected bones, Interment of,  170
  Comanche inhumation,  99, 100
  Congaree and Santee Indians, embalmment  132, 133
  Corsican funeral custom  147
  Cox, Ross, Cremation  144
  Coyotero Apaches, Inhumation  111, 112
  Cradle, mourning, Illustration of  181
  Crock, Choctaw, and Cherokee box burial  155
  Creeks and Seminoles, Inhumation  95, 96
  ----, “Hallelujah” of the  195
  Cremation, Antiquity of  143
  ----, Bonaks  144
  ---- furnace  149
  ----, Indians of Clear Lake  147
  ----, Indians of Southern Utah  149
  ---- mound, Florida  148, 149
  ----, Nishinams  144
  ----, Partial  150, 151
  ----, Se-nél  147, 148
  ----, Tolkotins  144-146
  Crow lodge burial  153
  ---- mourning  183, 184
  Curious mourning observances of ancients  165, 166
  Curtiss, E., Exploration by  115, 116

  Dakhnias  104
  Dall, W. H., Burial boxes  156
  ----, Cave burial  129
  ----, Mummies  134
  Damara burial  126
  Dance for the dead  192
  Dances, Burial  192
  Danish burial logs  139
  Dead, Dance for the  192
  Delano, A., Tree burial  161
  Description of burial feast  190, 191
  De Soto’s burial  181
  Devouring the dead, Fans of Africa  182
  ----, Indians of South America  182, 183
  ----, Massageties, Padæns, and others  182
  Dolmens in Japan  115
  Doracho cist burial  115
  Drew, Benjamin, Schiller’s burial song  110
  Dumont, M. Butel de, House burial  124

  Eells, Rev. M., Canoe burial  171
  Embalmment, Aleutian Islanders  135, 136
  ----, Congaree and Santee Indians  132, 133
  ----, or mummification  130
  Engelhardt, Prof. C.  139
  Esquimaux box burial  155, 156
  ---- burial fires  198
  ---- cairn burial  143
  ---- lodge burial  154
  European ossuaries  191
  Excavation of Indian mound, North Carolina  120-122

  Fans of Africa devour the dead  182
  Feasts, Burial  190
  Fires, Burial  198
  Fiske, Moses, Cists  113
  Florida cremation mound  148, 149
  ---- mound burial  119, 120
  Food, Burial  192
  Ford, Lieut. Geo. E., U.S.A., Cabin burial  123
  Foreman, Dr. E., Burial urns  138
  ---- Cremation  149
  Foster, J. W., Urn burial  137
  ---- Cremation  150
  Funeral ceremonies, Choctaws  186
  ----, Twanas and Clallams  176
  ---- custom, Corsican  147
  Furnace, Cremation  149

  Gageby, Capt. J. H., U.S.A., Box burial  155
  Games, Burial  195
  Gardner, Dr. W., U.S.A., Theory of scaffold burial  167
  Ghost gamble  195-197
  Gianque, Florian, Mound burial  120
  Gibbs, George  106
  ----, Burial canoes and houses  177
  Gilbert, G. K., Klamath burial  147
  ---- Moquis burial  114
  Gillman, Henry, Exploration of mound  148
  Given, Dr. O. G., Cairn burial  142
  “Golgothas,” Mandans  170
  Gosh-Utes, Aquatic burial amongst  181
  Grave burial  101
  Gregg, Dr. P., Surface burial  140
  Grinnell, Dr. Fordyce, Comanche inhumation  99
  ---- Wichita burial customs  102
  Grossman, Capt. F. E., Pima burial  98
  Gros Ventres and Mandans, Scaffold burial  161

  “Hallelujah” of the Creeks  195
  Hammond, Dr. J. F., Burial lodges  154
  Hardisty, W. L., Log burial in trees  166
  Hidatsa superstitions  199
  Hind, Henry Youle, Burial feast  191
  Hoffman, Dr. W. J.  99
  ---- Drawing of Pima burial  111, 153
  Holbrook, W. C., Burial mounds  118
  Holmes, W. H., Drawings by  106, 203
  Hough, Franklin B., Canoe burial in the ground  112
  House burial, Clallams  175
  ----, Paskagoulas and Billoxis  124, 125
  Hurons, Burial feast of  191
  Hyperboreans, aquatic burial  180

  Ichthyophagi, aquatic burial  180
  Illinois mounds  118
  Indian mound in North Carolina, Excavation of  120-122
  Indians of Bellingham Bay, lodge burial  154
  ---- of Clear Lake, cremation  147
  ---- of Costa Rica, lodge burial  154
  ---- of Illinois, cist burial  114
  ---- of Northwest, burial sacrifice  180
  ---- of Panama, burial sacrifice  180
  ---- of South America devour the dead  182, 183
  ---- of Southern Utah, cremation  149
  ---- of Talomeco River, box burial  155
  ---- of Taos, inhumation  101, 102
  ---- of Virginia, burial  125
  ---- of Washington Territory, burial superstition  201
  Inhumation  93
  ----, Comanches  99, 100
  ----, Coyotero Apaches  111, 112
  ----, Creeks and Seminoles  95, 96
  ----, Indians of Taos  101, 102
  ----, Mohawks  93
  ----, Otoe and Missouri Indians.  96, 97, 98
  ----, Pimas  98, 99
  ----, Wah-peton and Sisseton Sioux  107-110
  ----, Wichitas  102, 103
  ----, Yuki  99
  Innuit and Ingalik box burial  156-158
  Interment of collected bones  170
  Iroquois scaffold burial  169, 170
  ---- surface burial  140
  Itzas, Aquatic burial  180

  Japan dolmens  115
  Jenkes, Col. C. W., Partial cremation  150
  Johnston, Adam, Cremation myth  144
  Jones, Dr. Charles C., Stone graves of Tennessee  114
  ---- Natchez burial  169
  Joseph, Judge Anthony, Inhumation of Taos Indians  101

  Kaffir burial  126
  Kalosh box burial  156
  Kavague aquatic burial  180
  Kaw-a-wāh  142
  Keating, William H., Burial scaffolds  162
  ----, Burial superstitions  199
  “Keeping the Ghost”  160
  Kent, M. B., Sac and Fox burial  94
  Kentucky cist graves  114, 115
  ---- mummies  133
  Kiowa and Comanche cairn burial  142, 143
  Kitty-ka-tats  102
  Klamath and Trinity Indians, burial  106, 107
  Klingbeil, William, Partial cremation  151

  Lafitau, J. F.  182
  “Last cry”  186
  Latookas burial  126
  Lawson, John, Partial embalmment  132
  ----, Pit burial  93
  List of illustrations, Burial customs  87
  Living sepulchers  182
  Lodge burial  152
  ----, Crow  153
  ----, Esquimaux  154
  ----, Indians of Bellingham Bay  154
  ----, Indians of Costa Rica  154
  ----, Sioux  152, 153
  Log burial  138, 139
  ----, Danish  139
  ---- in trees, Loucheux  166
  Long Horse, burial of  153
  Lotophagians, Aquatic burial  180
  Loucheux, log burial in trees  166

  McChesney, Dr. Charles E.  107-111
  ----, “Ghost gamble”  195
  McDonald, Dr. A. J., Rock fissure burial  127
  McKenney, Thomas L., Scaffold burial  161
  ----, Chippewa widow  184
  Macrobrian Ethiopians, Preservation of the dead  136, 137
  Mahan, I. L., Chippewa mourning  184
  Mandan “Golgothas”  170
  Matthews, Dr. Washington, U.S.A., Hidatsa superstition  199
  ----, Tree burial  161
  Menard, Dr. John, Navajo burial  123
  Miami Valley mound burial  120
  Midawan, a ceremony of initiation  122
  Miller, Dr. C. C., Assistance from  197
  Mitchell, Dr. Samuel L., Kentucky mummies  133, 134
  Mohawks, Inhumation  93
  Monotheism defined  30, 32, 142
  Moquis burial  114
  Moravian mourning  166
  Morgan, Lewis H., Burial dance  192
  ----, Partial scaffold burial  169
  Morse, E. S., Dolmens in Japan  115
  Mortuary customs of Parthians, Medes, etc.  104
  ---- Persians  103, 104
  Mosquito Indians, Burial superstition of  201
  ----, canoe burial in ground  112, 113
  Mound burial  115
  ----, Choctaws  120
  ----, Florida  119, 120
  ----, Miami Valley  120
  ----, Ohio  117, 118
  Mounds, Illinois  118, 119
  ---- of stone  118
  Mourning ceremonies, Sioux  109, 110
  ----, Chippewa  184
  ---- cradle, Chinook  181, 182
  ---- ----, engraving of  181
  ---- Crows  183, 184
  ---- customs of widows  185, 186
  ----, Indians of Northwest  179
  ---- Moravian  166
  ---- observances, Twana and Clallams  176
  ---- sacrifice, feasts, food, etc  183
  Mummies, Alaskan  134, 135
  ----, Kentucky  133
  ----, Northwest coast  135
  ----, Virginia  131, 132
  Mummification or embalmment  130
  Mummification, Theories regarding  130
  Muret, Pierre, Living sepulchres  182
  ----, Persian mortuary customs  103
  Muscogulge burial  122, 123
  Natchez burial sacrifice  187-189
  ---- scaffold burial  169
  Navajo burial  123
  Norm  142
  New Mexico burial urn  138
  Nishinams, Cremation among the  144
  Norris, P. W., lodge burial  153
  North Carolina Indians, Partial cremation  150, 151
  Northwest coast mummies  135
  ----, Indians of, mourning  179

  Obongo aquatic burial  180
  ---- surface burial  139, 140
  Observers, Queries for, regarding burial  202, 203
  Ohio mound burial  117
  Oh-sah-ke-uck  94
  Ojibwa and Cree surface burial  141
  Ossuaries, European  191
  Otis, Dr. George A., U.S.A., Burial case  162
  Oto and Missouri Indians, Inhumation  96-98
  Ouray, Burial of  128
  Owsley, Dr. W. J., Cist graves  114

  Partial cremation  150
  ---- ----, North Carolina Indians  150, 151
  ---- scaffold burial and ossuaries  168
  Parsee burial  105, 106
  Paskagoulas and Billoxis, House burial  124, 125
  Persians, Mortuary customs of the  103, 104
  Pimas, Inhumation among  98, 99
  Pinart, M. Alphonse, Pima burial  98
  Pinkerton, John, Virginia mummies  131
  Piros  101
  Pit burial  93
  Pitt River Indians, Burial and cremation  151
  Pi-Ute cairn burial  143
  Posts, Burial  197
  Potherie, De la M., Surface burial  140
  Powell, J. W., Stone graves or cists  113
  Powers, Stephen, Burial dance  192
  ----, Burial song  194
  ----, Origin of cremation  144
  ----, Se-nél cremation  147
  ----, Yuki burial  99
  Preparation of dead,
  ---- Similarity of, between Comanches and African tribes  100
  Preservation of dead, Macrobrian Ethiopians  136, 137
  ----, Werowance of Virginia  131, 132
  Priest, Josiah, Box burial  155
  Putnam, F. W., Stone graves or cists  115, 116

  Queries for observers regarding burial  202, 203
  Quiogozon or ossuary  94

  Reason for cairn burial  143
  Remarks, Final  203
  Review of Turner’s narrative  165
  Robertson, R. S., Surface burial  139
  Roman, Bernard, Choctaw hone houses  168
  ----, Funeral customs of Chickasaws  123
  Round Valley Indians, burial among  124

  Sacrifice  187
  Sacs and Foxes, burial among  94, 95
  ----, surface burial  140, 141
  Sauer, Martin, Aleutian mummies  135
  Sauks, Foxes, and Pottawatomies, surface burial among  151
  Scaffold burial, Australia  167
  ---- ----, Chippewas  161, 162
  ---- ----, Choctaw  169
  ---- ----, Gros-Ventres and Mandans  161
  ---- ----, Iroquois  169, 170
  ---- ----, Natchez  169
  ---- ----, Sioux  163, 164
  ----, Tent burial on  174
  Scaffolds, Theory regarding  167, 168
  Schiller’s burial song  110
  Schoolcraft, Henry R., Burial posts  197
  ----, Cremation myth  144
  ----, Mohawk burial  93, 95
  ----, Partial embalmment  132
  Seechaugas  158
  Sellers, George Escoll, Cist burial  114
  Se-nél, Cremation among the  147, 148
  Sepulture, Aerial  152
  Sheldon, William, Caraib burial customs  146
  Shoshone burial lodges  153, 154
  ---- cairn burial  143
  Sicaugu  158
  Simpson, Capt. J. H., U.S.A., Aquatic burial  181
  Sioux and Chippewa burial posts  197, 198
  ---- lodge burial  152, 153
  ---- mourning ceremonies  109, 110
  Sioux, scaffold burial of the  163, 164
  ----, tree burial of the  161
  Solutré cists  113
  Songs, Burial  194
  ---- ----, of Basques and others  195
  Southern Indians, Urn burial among  137
  Spainhour, Dr. J. Mason, Curious burial  120
  Spencer, J. W., Partial surface burial  140
  Standing posture, Burial in  151, 152
  Stansbury, Capt. H., U.S.A., Lodge burial  152
  Steatite burial urn, California  138
  Sternberg, Dr. George M., U.S.A., Grave mounds  119
  ----, Burial case discovered  162
  Stone graves or cists  113
  ---- mounds  118
  Superstition, Hidatsa  199
  ---- regarding burial feasts  191
  Superstitions, Burial  199
  Superterrene and aerial burial in canoes  171
  Surface burial  138, 139
  ----, Ojibways and Crees  141
  ----, Sacs and Foxes  140, 141
  ----, Sauks, Foxes, and Pottawatomies  141
  Swan, James G., Canoe burial  171
  ----, Klamath burial  106
  ----, Superstitions  201

  Tāh-zee  142
  Tegg, William, Antiquity of cremation  143
  ----, Towers of silence  104
  Tennessee cists  113
  Tent burial on scaffold  174
  Theories regarding mummification or embalmment  130
  ---- regarding use of scaffolds  176, 168
  Tiffany, A. S., Cremation furnace  149
  Timberlake, H., Aquatic burial  180
  Tolkotin cremation  144, 146
  Tompkins, Gen. Chas. H., U.S.A., Partial cremation  151
  Towers of silence, Description of  104-106
  Tree and scaffold burial  158
  ---- ----, Brulé Sioux  158, 160
  ---- burial, ancient nations  165, 166
  ---- ----, Blackfeet  101
  ---- ----, Sioux  101
  Tsinūk burial sacrifice  179
  Turner, Dr. L. S., Scaffold burial  163
  Turner’s narrative, Review of  165
  Twana and Clallam mourning observances  176
  ---- canoe burial  171-173
  Twanas and Clallams, funeral ceremonies  176

  Urn burial by Southern Indians  137
  Ute cairn burial  142
  ---- cave burial  127, 128

  Van Camper, Moses. Mode of burial of Indians inhabiting
      Pennsylvania  112
  Van Vliet, Gen. Stewart, U.S.A., Tree and scaffold burial  153
  Verification of death, Caraibs  146
  Virginia mummies  131, 132

  Wah-peton and Sisseton Sioux, Inhumation among  107-110
  Wascopums, Burial sacrifice of  189, 190
  Wee-ka-nahs  101
  Welch, H., Surface burial  141
  Werowance of Virginia, preservation of the dead  131, 132
  Whitney, J. D., burial cave, Description of a  128
  Whymper, Frederic, Burial boxes  156
  Wichitas, Inhumation among the  102, 103
  Widow, Chippewa  184, 185
  Widows, Mourning customs of  185, 186
  Wilcox, E., Partial cremation  150
  Wilkins, Charles, Kentucky mummies  133
  Williams, Monier, Parsee burial  104
  Wood, Rev. J. G., African surface burial  139
  ----, Bari burial  125
  ----, Fans of Africa devour the dead  182
  ----, Obongo aquatic burial  180
  Wright, Dr. S. G., Superstitions regarding burial feasts  191

  Yo-kaí-a burial dance  192-194
  Young, John, Tree burial  161
  Yuki inhumation  99
  Yurok burial fires  198

       *       *       *       *       *
           *       *       *       *


Unless otherwise noted, spelling and punctuation are unchanged.
Differences in punctuation or hyphenization between the List of
Illustrations and the captions themselves are not noted.

  [List of Illustrations]
  1.--Quiogozon or dead house  [Quiogozeon]

  two small arroyas
    [_spelling “arroya” consistent throughout the quoted passage_]
  chanting the following chorous:
    [_spelling in quoted passage unchanged_]
  the Colchians enveloped their dead  [Colchiens]
  these are considered apochryphal  [_spelling unchanged_]
  Horace and Tertullian both affirm  [Tertulian]
  cum grana salis  [_error unchanged: correct form is “grano”_]
  the same _Dodem_ [_sic_] (family mark) of her husband.
    [_bracketed “sic” in original_]
  Fröebel states that among the Woolwas
    [_spelling unchanged: probably error for “Froebel” (two letters)
    or “Fröbel” (o-umlaut alone)_]
  tear myself from you (_sic_) arms
    [_error unchanged; parenthetical “sic” in original_]

  [Footnote 54]
  Amer. Naturalist, November, 1878, p. 753.  [1878.]

  [Missing commas within entries or before sub-entries have been
  silently supplied.]
  McKenney, Thomas L., Scaffold burial  [Scafford]

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