BURIAL (Historic Information)

If you lived in a country where ghoulish animals and birds, gormand-hke, wer always and everywhere ready to devour the dead, and you had no tools or lumber or even a spade with which to make a coffin or dig a grave, what would you do with your dead?

Circumstances, little by little, would make a custom, and custom makes law. Which is exactly what happened to the Siwash.

He mummified and inclosed them in caves, as near Sitka (where a perfectly preserved mummy was found two years ago) ; rolled them in blankets or incased them in a bundle of sticks or split slabs and hung them in a tree or on a pole scaffolding, as at Fort Rupert; cremated them and incased the ashes in the hollow of the family totem pole with those other members of the family cremated before; or inclosed them in a small cache or gravehouse, erected from the ground or from a pole scaffolding six or more feet above the ground, as at Wrangell and elsewhere. The modes of burial prove nothing as to their religion or ancestry. It simply shows that they honored their dead by placing them where they would be least disturbed and best preserved. I notice that several methods were used by the same tribes originally. Then came the whites with spade and Bible and persuaded them that it would be better to bury in the ground, which they practically all do now. Within another century we will be back to their method cremation.

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