Monday, March 10, 2014

Chickasaw Indian Burial Ceremony

Native American Chickasaw Indian Burials

Chickasaw Indian Burial 

      Captain Bernard Romans says that the Chickasaws bury their dead almost the moment the breath is out of the body, in‘ the very spot under the couch in which the deceased died, and the nearest relatives mourn over it with woeful lamentations. The mourning continues every evening and morning during a whole year. When one of the Choctaws (lies, a stage is erected, and the corpse is laid on it and covered with a bear skin; if it be that of a man of note, it is decorated, and the poles painted red with vermilion and bear’s oil; if that of a child, it is put upon stakes, set across. The relatives the come  and weep, asking many questions of the corpse, such as, why he left them! Did not his wife serve him well? Was he not contented with his children! Had he not come enough’! Did not his land produce sufiicient of everything’! Was he afraid of his enemies? etc., and this accompanied by loud howlings; the women are there constantly, and sometimes with the corrupted air and heat of the sun, faint, so as to oblige the by-standers to carry them home; the men also mourn in the same manner, but in the night or at other times when they are least likely to be discovered. The stage is fenced round with poles; it remains thus a certain time, but not a fixed period; this is sometimes extended to three or four months, but seldom more than half that time. Old men, who wear very long nails on the thumb, fore, and middle finger of each hand, as a distinguishing badge, constantly travel through the nation, that one of them may acquaint those concerned, of the expiration of this period, which is according to their own fancy; the day being come, the friends and relatives’ ‘assemble near the stage, a fire is made, and the venerable operator, after the body is taken down, with his nails tears the remaining flesh off the bones, and throws it with the entrails into the fire, where it is consumed; then he scrapes the bones and burns the scrapings. The head being painted red with Vermilion is put, with _ the rest of the bones, into a chest (which for a chief is also made red), and deposited in the loft of a hut built for that purpose, and called the bone-house; each town has one of these. After remaining here one year or thereabouts, if the deceased was a man of any note, they take the chest down, and in an assembly of relatives and friends, they weep once more over him, refresh the color of the head, repaint the box, and then consign him to lasting oblivion. An enemy or anyone who commits suicide is buried under the earth as one to be directly forgotten, and unworthy of the above-mentioned obsequies and mourning.’