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Native Americans’ Burial Rituals Essay

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Updated: Sep 26th, 2020

Our world is characterized by the extreme diversity as a number of peoples and folks all over the world have their own customs and traditions that contribute to the creation of their unique identity. The formation of these rituals is a long-term process that was impacted by a number of external and internal factors conditioning the acquisition of a certain value and belief. The importance of these rituals is evidenced by the fact that the main distinctive features of nations result from the differences in their mentalities and traditions. Yet, in the course of time some beliefs become less significant; however, they still remain an important part of the cultural heritage.

Besides, there are many rituals that appeared because of the mysterious character of some phenomenon. Being not able to explain its nature, people created specific ceremonies to overcome the fear and protect the community from the enigmatic forces. Death has always been one of these phenomena. It scared people and promoted the appearance of various cults to provide at least the vague explanation of its nature. Additionally, the obscurity of the perspectives awaiting the dead conditioned the formation of the concept of the spiritual world and the growth of rituals used to prepare a person for his/her existence in the new environment. The power of these beliefs and rituals is evidenced by a number of ceremonies used even in the modern society.

The concepts of death and approaches to the preparation of a person for his/her last journey varied across the world and were determined by the peculiarities of the geographical location and local traditions. If to speak about native Americans, various tribes had their own ceremonies conditioned by the unique customs and mentality. Nevertheless, they celebrated death, accepting it as an integral part of the life cycle. The majority of tribes adhered to the idea that it was the end of the life on Earth, and the start of the new existing in the spiritual world. (“Native American Rituals and Ceremonies” para. 6).

For this reason, their rituals were focused on the preparation of a person for this new form of existence. American tribes also believed in the power of spirits, and the death ceremonies were focused on the communication with these forces to ask them for guidance. Moreover, “various tribes honored the dead in several ways, by giving them food, herbs, and gifts to ensure a safe journey to the after life” (“Native American Rituals and Ceremonies” para. 7). The main aim of all these actions was the assistance to the spirit of a dead person.

Therefore, the burial customs varied from tribe to tribe and were impacted by the environment. Arctic tribes left their dead on the frozen ground while Southeastern people placed them in lavishly decorated tombs to guarantee their existence in the spiritual world (“Native American Religion” para. 2).Furthermore, coastal tribes put the corpses in canoes sending them in the last journey (Native American Religion” para. 2). Additionally, there were many communities that used cremation believing in the purifying power of flame.

It becomes obvious that native Americans used numerous rituals to protect the spirits of their dead people and guarantee their successful journey to the spiritual world. This diversity is explained by a great number of tribes residing in different regions characterized by various climate conditions. However, these rituals impacted the formation of the unique identity of people living in the region.

Works Cited

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IvyPanda. "Native Americans' Burial Rituals." September 26, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/native-americans-burial-rituals/.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "Native Americans' Burial Rituals." September 26, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/native-americans-burial-rituals/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'Native Americans' Burial Rituals'. 26 September.

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