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A Further Contribution to the Study of the Mortuary Customs of the North American Indians by H.C. Yarrow

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A Further Contribution To The



Dr. H.C. Yarrow, ACT. ASST. SURG., USA


1.-Quiogozeon or dead house
2.-Pima burial
3.-Towers of silence
4.-Towers of silence
5.-Alaskan mummies
6.-Burial urns
7.-Indian cemetery
8.-Grave pen
9.-Grave pen
l0.-Tolkotin cremation
ll.-Eskimo lodge burial
l2.-Burial houses
l3.-Innuit grave
l4.-Ingalik grave
l5.-Dakota scaffold burial
l6.-Offering food to the dead
l7.-Depositing the corpse
l9.-Chippewa scaffold burial
30.-Scarification at burial
3l.-Australian scaffold burial
33.-Preparing the dead
24.-Twana canoe-burial
25.-Posts for burial canoes
36.-Tent on scaffold
37.-House burial
38.-House burial
3l.-Launching the burial cradle
32.-Chippewa widow
33.-Ghost gamble
34.-Figured plum stones
35.-Winning throw, No 1
36.-Winning throw, No 2
37.-Winning throw, No 3
38.-Winning throw, No 4
39.-Winning throw, No 5
40.-Winning throw, No 6
4l.-Auxiliary throw, No 1
42.-Auxiliary throw No 2
43.-Auxiliary throw, No 3
44.-Auxiliary throw No 4
45.-Auxiliary throw, No 5
46.-Burial posts
47.-Grave fire

A Further Contribution To The




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.

_Ancient burial_.--The body was buried in a grave made about
2-1/2 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

_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

_Ancient mourning observations_.--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

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

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 attachment.

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

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

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 living.

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

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 canons 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
_reloris_, 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 bereavement.

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; Chile
Colorado or red-pepper tortillas, and guayaves, with a good
supply of mush and milk, which completes the festive board
of the _reloris_ 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 customs."

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

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.

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

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

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
_Nasasalar,_ who form a distinct class, the mourners walking

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

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 gathas, and pray that the
spirit of the deceased may be safely transported, on the
fourth day after death, to its final resting-place."

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 centuries.

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.

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-mak-a_, 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
_Peh-ko-wan_ on payment of a big knife. After the expiration
of three days it is all well with them.

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

_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 warrior.

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 ago.

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 Abiqum,
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 Montezuma came from the north.

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 Massasanga 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


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

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 Solutre, 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 deg., 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 Veragia 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 Archaeology,
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

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 4 1/2 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 archaeology.

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

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 size.

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 1-1/2
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

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

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