How Do Tribes Handle the Death of a Member?

How Do Tribes Handle the Death of a Member?

Sonny Skyhawk

Prior to European occupation, when a tribal member died most tribes would wrap the body and hoist it up into the limbs of a tree. This was done to allow the Creator to receive the body. Some tribes practiced cremation and would burn the deceased’s belongings with him or her, or place them in caves for safekeeping. It was not until much later that tribes adopted the European practice of burial in the ground.

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heatheranne's picture
Submitted by heatheranne on
The statement that we did not bury our dead until the arrival of White settlers is incorrect. We have been buring our dead since the mississippian period and before that. Have you ever read about the archaeology of your own people? The tree burial was a primary burial, the secondary burial was often in a mound. Burial mounds have been around since before white man thought of crossing the Atlantic. I know my ancestors are buried under the burial mounds across Michigan, Wisconsin, Indian, Illinois. The majority of our mounds have been tilled flat for farming land. My sister's great grandparents are buried in mounds that have been upkept to this very day, it's an old tradition.

duwaynesmith's picture
Submitted by duwaynesmith on
Ancient Hohokam peoples of the SW had burial practices before the birth of Christ. One thing for sure, it is difficult to generalize about cultural practices of Native peoples in North American before the arrival of Europeans. You simply can't do it in a few sentences and still reflect the great diversity that existed even though it is tempting. This kind of temptation is what encourages a lot of white people to believe that there is only one "Indian" language and all Indian people lived in tipis. Supposedly learning and becoming an expert on all Native cultural practices as they existed at time of European contact can only teach you humility and caution about making generalizations.