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Choctaw Religion

The Choctaw never worshiped idols, or any works of their own hands, as other savage nations. They believed in the existence of a Great Spirit, and that He possessed super-natural power, and was omnipresent, but they did not deem that He expected or required any form of worship of them. They had no idea of God as taught by revealed religion no conception of His manifold mercies, or the atonement made for sin. All they felt was a dread of His attributes and character, made (manifest to them by the phenomena of the heavens. But in common with the believers of the Scriptures, they held the doctrine of future rewards and punishments. They differed from them, however, as to the location of heaven and their views of happiness and misery. Heaven, or the happy hunting grounds, in their imagination, was similar to the Elysian fields of the heathen mythology. There the spirit of those who had been virtuous, honest and truthful, while on earth, enjoyed, in common with youthful angels, all manner of games and voluptuous pleasures, with no care, no sorrow, nothing but one eternal round of enjoyment. They believed that angels or spirits seldom visited the earth, and cared but very little about doing so, as being supplied in heaven with everything suitable to their wants, nothing was required from the earth. According to their notion, heaven was located in the southwestern horizon, and spirits, instead of ascending, according to the Christian idea, sped their last journey in a line directly above the surface of the earth in the direction of the southwest horizon. Previous to a...

Registers of the Parish of Michilimackinac

The records from the register at Michilimackinac are here provided as they were translated by Edward O. Brown back in 1889. His translation came from a transcript of the original, which latter is kept in the parish church of Ste. Anne, at Mackinac. Annotated throughout are Mr. Brown’s biographical knowledge of the events of Michilimackinac and the people within. Don’t pass over the footnotes for the record, you may find a biographical reference hidden there!

Register of Interments in the Parish of Michilimackinac

The register of interments was evidently not as carefully kept as those of marriages and baptisms. The following first four entries have been abstracted from the baptismal register, being entered after the records of baptisms on the death of the child previously baptized. The record kept by Father Le Franc, beginning in 1754 and continuing through 1760, is continuous, and entered in one portion of the register, headed “Registre des morts depuis le ler aoust 1754”1 . The remaining entries were scattered miscellaneously among the marriages and baptisms, but have here been assembled in chronological order. Died August 10, 1743 [Marie Coussante, daughter of Joseph Hins]; she was the first one buried in the new church built by her father, under the holy water font. She [Marie Athanase, slave of Charles Hamelin] died fortified with all the sacraments, on January 24, 1748, and was buried in the church the following day beside her deceased mistress. Died [Jacques, son of Jacques Dumay, baptized February 1, 1748] a few days afterward and was buried in the church near the little Hins girl. The child [Augustin Laffertiere dit jasmin, baptized February 27, 1752] died 2 or 3 months afterwards and is buried in the cemetery on the left hand side on entering. August 1, 1754 was interred in the cemetery of this mission the body of Jean Bapt. Gourn dit Champagne, about forty-five years old. He had received the holy Viaticum and extreme unction; the prayers for the dying were said for him. He was married and was returning to the Ilinois with his wife. He was interred after the celebration of...

Burial Customs of Southern Ohio

The origin and age of the earthworks of southern Ohio and the adjoining sections of Kentucky and West Virginia have remained unsolved questions. The works are remarkable for three reasons, namely, their size, number and forms. By their size and number it is quite evident they were erected by a sedentary people, a numerous people who occupied the country for a long period, and by their forms it is shown these same people possessed certain recognized customs and beliefs which caused them to erect the great circles and squares, octagons and other figures, so accurately and skillfully constructed. And so the questions arise, By whom were the vast works raised? and, For what reason was the rich and fertile land abandoned? The first of the many groups of earthworks to be described was that at Marietta, on the Ohio at the mouth of the Muskingum. These were surveyed by Capt. Jonathan Heart, and his map, together with descriptive text, appeared in Vol. I, No. 9, of The Columbian Magazine, published in Philadelphia in May, 1 787. Other accounts were soon printed, to be followed in 1848 by the great work by E. G. Squier and E. 11. Davis, this. being the most interesting and most valuable volume ever published on American antiquities. During latter years many of the sites described at that time have disappeared through the cultivation of the soil; others have become greatly reduced in height and have lost their clearness of outline. Some have been carefully examined and accounts of the discoveries preserved; others have been destroyed and no knowledge of the nature of their contents...

Biloxi and Pascagoula Burial Customs

The “Siouan Tribes of the East,” whose burial customs so far as known are detailed on the preceding pages, were carefully studied some years ago, at which time all available notes were gathered and presented in a single volume. A few years before the preparation of this most interesting bulletin a discovery of the greatest importance was made by another member of the bureau staff, Mr. Gatschet, who, while engaged in Louisiana in 1886, discovered a small band of Biloxi, some of whom spoke their old language, which Gatschet soon found was Siouan. The Biloxi therefore belonged to the great Siouan family, and the neighboring Pascagoula were probably of the same stock. These were among the first of the native tribes encountered by the French in 1699, and, fortunately, a sketch of their burial customs has been preserved. The account was written by a French officer about the year 1730, and, as quoted by Swanton, reads: ” The Paskagoulas and the Billoxis never inter their chief when he is dead, but they have his body dried in the fire and smoke so that they make of it a veritable skeleton. After having reduced it to this condition they carry it to the temple (for they have one as well as the Natchez) and put it in the place occupied by its predecessor, which they take from the place which it occupied to place it with the bodies of their other chiefs in the interior of the temple, where they are all ranged in succession on their feet like statues. With regard to the one last dead, it is exposed...

Santee Burial Customs

Siouan tribes extended southward into the central portions of the present State of South Carolina, and the Santee were undoubtedly members of this linguistic family. One of their villages probably stood on the shore of Scott Lake, in the valley of the Santee about 10 miles southwest of Summerton, Clarendon County. Here, near the shore of the lake, is a conical mound of earth, and scattered over the surrounding area are many fragments of pottery and other traces of an Indian settlement, but the surface has been modified by the waters of the Santee during periods of flood, and consequently the greater part of the surface as it was at the time of Indian occupancy has been washed away or covered by alluvium. This site is, in a direct line, a little more than 60 miles northwest of Charleston, and the village may have been one visited by Lawson during the first days of January. 1701. The mound may have been the one referred to by Lawson, who, after mentioning his meeting with the Santee, continued: “Near to these Cabins are several Tombs made after the fashion of the Indians; the largest and chiefest of theta was the Sepulchre of the late Indian King of the Santees, a Man of (Treat Power, not only amongst his own subjects, but dreaded by the Neighboring Nations for his great Valour and Conduct, having as large a Prerogative in his Way of Ruling as the Present King I now spoke of. “The manner of their Interment is thus: A Mole or Pyramid of Earth is raised, the Mole thereof being worked very...

Monacan Burial Customs

During the autumn of the year 1608 a party of the colonists from Jamestown, led by Capt. Newport, ascended the James to the halls, the site of the present city of Richmond, and leaving their boats, continued westward “into the Land called the Monscane.” This was the territory of the Monacan, a Siouan people who were ever enemies of the Powhatan tribes of the tidewater region, which extends eastward front the line of the Falls to the Atlantic. Moving westward from the Falls the party discovered the Monacan villages of Massinacak and Mowhemenchouch. Although the eastern boundary of this tribal territory was so clearly defined its western limits are not known, but at some time it undoubtedly extended westward to the mountains beyond the Jackson Valley. The Rivanna was near the center of this region, and at or near the mouth of this stream, on the left bank of the James, in the present Fluvanna County, Virginia, was one of the most important Monacan towns, Rassawek as indicated on the map prepared by Capt. John Smith. An Indian village seldom remained for many years on a, given spot, its position being shifted back and forth, as certain causes made necessary; therefore, it is more than probable that remains of an old settlement encountered on the river bank some 3 miles above Columbia indicate the site of Rassawck during some period of its existence. Traces of the town were exposed by the great freshet of 1870, and “when the water receded it was found that fully four feet of the surface had been removed, revealing not less than 40 or...

Seminole Burial Customs

The Seminole, the immigrants from the Creek towns who settled in Florida during the eighteenth century, were little influenced by the whites until very recent years. Living as they did in the midst of the great swamps of the southern part of the peninsula, with no roads penetrating the tangle of semitropical vegetation, and with even the location of their settlements unknown to the occupants of other parts of Florida, they were never visited, and seldom seen except when they chose to make journeys to the traders near the coast. Consequently the burial customs of the people, as witnessed 40 years ago, were probably little different from those practiced during the past generations. The account written at that time referred particularly to the death and burial of a child: ” The preparation for burial began as soon as death had taken place. The body was clad in a new shirt, a new handkerchief being tied about the neck and another around the head. A spot of red paint was placed on the right cheek and one of black upon the left. The body was laid face upwards. In the left hand, together with a bit of burnt wood, a small bow about twelve inches in length was placed, the hand lying naturally over the middle of the body. Across the bow, held by the right hand, was laid an arrow, slightly drawn. During these preparations, the women loudly lamented, with hair disheveled. At the same time some men had selected a, place for the burial and made the grave in this manner: Two palmetto logs of proper size were...

Chickasaw Burial Customs

The Chickasaw lived in the hilly country north of the Choctaw, and although of the same stock they were ever enemies. Many of their customs differed and instead of the elaborate burial ceremonies of the Choctaw, “They bury their dead almost the moment the breath is out of the body, in the very spot under the couch on which the deceased died, and the nearest relations woeful lamentations; the women are very vociferous in it, but the men do it in silence, taking great care not to be seen any more than heard at this business; the mourning continues about a year, which they know by counting the moons, they are every morning and evening, and at first throughout the day at different times, employed in the exercise of this last duty.” More details of the ceremony were recorded by Adair, who was well acquainted with the manners and customs of the Chickasaw, having traded among them for many years. According to his narrative: “When any of their. people die at home, they wash and anoint the corpse, and soon bring it out of doors,after a short eulogium, and space of mourning, they carry him three times around the house in which he is to be interred, stopping half a minute each time.” The excavation was described as being clean inside, and after the body had been deposited within it was covered with logs, then several layers of cypress bark, and made level with the floor of the house. Beds were often made above the graves. It is of great interest to be able to trace this unusual custom...

Yuchi Customs

Birth Customs Before child-birth takes place the prospective mother retires to a secluded temporary camp always east of the usual dwelling. Here she is attended by one or two old women relatives and her mother. In order to facilitate delivery a decoction is made by placing a bullet in a cup of water, and the woman is given this to drink. During delivery she lees flat on her back on the floor or on the ground. Sometimes the family induces an old woman to come and help the woman in labor by sitting on her abdomen so that she can be held in her arms. As soon as the child is born it is washed, but no clothes are put on it until the fourth day, when it is named. The mother is allowed to partake of nourishment; the child, however, is not given suck until the fourth day. The taboos shortly to be described which devolve upon the father go into effect as soon as the child is born. The fetal coverings are disposed of by inhumation. Care is taken to preserve the umbilical cord. In the case of a male child it is treated in the following manner: the father has prepared a small bow about eight inches long and strung with wound sinew, an imitation of the larger weapon. Four arrows, notched but unfeathered, with sharpened shafts, accompany the bow (Fig. 36, a). The arrows are then bound, together with the navel cord, at the center of the little bow, and the whole thing is thrown where the brush is very dense and where no one...
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