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Illinois Burial Customs

The term Illinois Indians as used by some early writers was intended to include the various Algonquian tribes, encountered in the “Illinois country,” in addition to those usually recognized as forming the Illinois confederacy. Thus, in the following quotation from Joutel will be found a reference to the Chahouanous – i. e., Shawnee – as being of the Islinois, and in the same note Accancea referred to the Quapaw, a Siouan tribe living on the right bank of the Mississippi, not far north of the mouth of the Arkansas. Describing the burial customs of the Illinois, as witnessed by him during the latter years of the seventeenth century, Joutel wrote: ” They pay a Respect to their Dead, as appears by their special Care of burying them, and even of putting into lofty Coffins the Bodies of such as are considerable among them, as their Chiefs and others, which is also practised among the Accancea’s, but they differ in this Particular, that the Accancea’s weep and make their Complaints for some Days, where as the Chahoaanous, and other People of the Islinois Nation do just the Contrary; for when any of them die, they wrap them up in Skins, and then put them into Coffins made of the Barks of Trees, then sing and dance about them for twenty four Hours. Those Dancers take Care to tie Calabashes, or Gourds about their Bodies, with some Indian Wheat in them, to rattle and make a Noise, and some of them have a Drum, made of a great Earthen Pot, on which they extend a wild Goat’s Skin, and beat thereon...

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