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The Spirit of the Caddo
Posted By Dennis Partridge On In Native American | No Comments
The spirit stays Six days before starting on its way. During these six days a fire must be kept up at the east end of the grave. Anybody in the family, man or woman, old or young, may keep up this fire. All the possessions of the deceased, clothes, etc. are kept by this fire, hung on a pole. At the close of the six days things which are unfit for further use are burned, other things are smoked, and may then be given away to friends or reltives. Members of the household of the deceased who have been staying at home are smoked at this time, after which they take a bath in the creek. Now at noon there is a meal at the grave. The pots are set in a circle, and with a spoon a man, any one may be chosen, takes some food into his hand from each pot and puts this food on the middle of the grave, it is for the journey.
Recurrently, at the same time of year, for two, three, or four years a feast for the deceased person is made (kanitashnowia’a kiats’abisu, there is going to be a feast; kia, used to be; Mr. Bisu [Wing]) and food is taken to the grave, or, as Ingkanish puts it, a beef is killed and a piece taken to the grave which is encircled clockwise four times. There is much visiting about in connection with these characteristically Southeastern feasts, as acquaintances as well as relatives are entertained. It has become customary to hold a peyote meeting the night before a death feast. At the feast the next Ghost dance will be announced.
Of the dead it is said, Ganihaada’ (R.), he passed away, or hayuna (hayu, high, na, locative), “he has gone home” is White Moon’s free translation. At death people go up to the sky. Deceased relatives and others are seen in the Ghost dance trance, in fact the entire “village of the dead” may be seen.
There is or was a ceremony to bring back the dead. Kanoshtsi’ (Kanosh, French), a doctor who died in 1908, had four sisters, long since dead, who were also doctors and practiced bringing back the dead, with success if they began to work soon after the death. They sent their supernatural partners after the deceased. They could catch up with the deceased and bring him back to the body providing he had not passed beyond certain clouds in the sky. These women doctors conducted their ceremony “to catch up with the dead” in a large permanent “grass house.” Their brother has been heard to say that had he only paid more attention to his sisters’ methods he would have been as good in practice as they.
That the return of the dead after burial would be far from welcome is inferable from the notorious case of John Stink, an Osage. One day, after his burial, he came walking into town with his dogs. People would not have anything to do with him. So he had to go and live alone. For many years he has been living alone, with his dogs. In telling the story of John Stink, White Moon added: “Once a woman, a White woman, tried to mix me up with him. She wanted me to tell him she would marry him. She said she was not afraid of him and would live with him, it would be good for him and good for her.” John Stink was rich. White Moon declined to be mixed up in the case.
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