Native Cemeteries and Forms of Burial East of the Mississippi

By David I. Bushnell Jr. | Go to book overview

lined graves were the same people who would often deposit their dead in the natural caverns, many of the bodies when placed in the graves would probably have been similarly wrapped in skins or pieces of woven fiber, some decorated with feathers, some plain. But now little is encountered in the graves in addition to crumbling, decaying bones.

The manner in which some of the cave burials had been prepared, with the outer wrappings formed of mats of cane or rushes, tends to recall Lawson's account of the burial customs of the Carolina tribes with whom he came in contact very early in the eighteenth century. And undoubtedly there was intercourse between the occupants of the villages along the eastern slopes, in the western portion of the present State of North Carolina, and the people who claimed and occupied the valleys across the mountains. All may have had various customs in common.


IROQUOIAN GROUPS

Iroquoian tribes occupied the greater part of the present State of New York, forming the League of the Iroquois, which often held the balance of power between the French and British colonies. Towns were numerous and frequently consisted of a strongly protected group of bark-covered houses, including the extended communal dwellings, some of which were 80 feet or more in length. The five nations of the league were the Mohawk, Cayuga, Oneida, Onondaga, and Seneca. The Susquehanna, met by a party of Virginia colonists in 1608 near the mouth of the stream which bears the tribal name, the Cherokee of the southern mountain country, and the Tuscarora and neighboring tribes, were members of this linguistic family. The Tuscarora moved northward early in the eighteenth century and in 1722 became the sixth nation of the league.


THE FIVE NATIONS

Writing of the Iroquois or Five Nations, during the early years of the eighteenth century, at a time when they dominated the greater part of the present State of New York, it was said: "Their funeral Rites seem to be formed upon a Notion of some Kind of Existence after Death. They make a large round Hole, in which the Body can be placed upright, or upon its Haunches, which after the Body is placed in it, is covered with Timber, to support the Earth which they lay over, and thereby keep the Body free from being pressed; they then raise the Earth in a round Hill over it. They always dress the Corps in all its Finery, and put Wampum and other Things into the Grave with it; and the Relations suffer not Grass or any Weed to

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Native Cemeteries and Forms of Burial East of the Mississippi
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 1
  • Preface 5
  • Contents 7
  • Illustrations 9
  • Algonquian Groups 11
  • Stone-Lined Graves 44
  • Burials in Caves 58
  • Iroquoian Groups 65
  • Muskhogean Groups 70
  • Siouan Groups 93
  • Conclusion 122
  • Bibliography 149
  • Index 157
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