Native American Burial

Honoring The Dead

The Sioux, Ute, and Navajo Indians used platforms to raise the dead closer to the sky. They were either placed in trees or on scaffolds that they constructed. They often placed buckets of food and water on poles on the scaffolds. Toys were left with dead children, while weapons and clothing were buried with adults. The burials vary by age, gender and status. Chiefs usually were placed higher in the tree, while squaws and children were placed in lower trees and sometimes even bushes. The natives argue that the souls of the deceased linger in the air and watch over the tribe until it is time to move on. By placing the individuals in the trees or on scaffolds the soul is closer to the air and able to leave the body faster.

Plains Lodge Burials

Some Plains Indians had the practice of placing their dead in burial lodges instead of in trees or scaffolding.

Navajo Burial Practices

Navajo people believe that when someone dies, they go to the underworld. Navajo were very careful when delivering their dead so they would not return to the living world. Witnessing a dead body is very bad luck to the Navajo, and the buildings in which people die area often burned down. Traditionally, the dying are taken outside to die and very few people see or handle the body.

Shawnee Burial Mound

In the past, some Shawnee tribes constructed a variety of stone and earthen mounds to bury their dead. They used rock slabs and cobble stones, shaping them in the form of domes or small rectangular houses.