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Native American Cremation

More than a century before McKenney made his tour of the Lakes and stopped at Detroit, during the month of June, 1826, Charlevoix traversed much of the same on his way to the country of the Illinois, and thence down the Mississippi. At that time the Missisauga, a tribe closely related to the Chippewa, and of which they may be considered a subtribe or division, lived on the shores of Lake St. Clair and the vicinity, and here Charlevoix saw their scaffold burials. Referring to the several tribes with whom he had come in contact, he wrote: “When an Indian dies in the time of hunting, his body is exposed on a very high scaffold, where it remains till the departure of the company, who carry it with them to the village. There are some nations who have the same custom, with respect to all their dead; and I have seen it practised among the Missisaguez at the Narrows. The bodies of those who are killed in war are burnt, and the ashes carried back, in order to be deposited in the sepulchres of their ancestors. These sepulchres, among those nations who are best fixed in their settlements, are a sort of burial grounds near the village.” This was written in 1721. Another reference to the burning of bodies was prepared about the same year, and proves that others besides those of persons killed in war were so consumed. “An Officer of the regular Troops has informed me also, that while he had the Command of the Garrison at Oswego, a Boy of one of the far Westward Nations...

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