Burial Rituals of Native American Culture

Topics: Native Americans in the United States, Burial, Ritual Pages: 3 (1187 words) Published: March 23, 2012
Burial Rituals of Native American Culture

At some point in our lives, we all come to realize that death is a part of life. Cultural diversity provides a wide variety of lifestyles and traditions for each of the unique groups of people in our world. Within these different cultures, the rituals associated with death and burial can also be uniquely diverse. Many consider ritualistic traditions that differ from their own to be somewhat strange and often perceive them as unnatural. A prime example would be the burial rituals of the Native American people. Leslie Marmon Silko’s story entitled The Man to Send Rain Clouds describes a funeral service carried out by a Native American Pueblo family. Though many perceive the funeral service narrated in this story to be lacking in emotion and also lacking respect for the passing of their loved one, it portrays a ceremony that is quite common for the Native American communities. There is also a hint of conflict occurring between the characters in the story that are carrying out their traditions while including an outside religious figure in the ceremony. The death of an old man sets the stage for this story and tells of the way his family goes about preparing him for his journey into the afterlife. A feather is tied into the old man’s hair, his face was painted with blue, yellow, green and white paint, pinches of corn meal and pollen were tossed into the wind and finally his body was wrapped in a red blanket prior to being transported. According to Releasing the Spirit: A Lesson in Native American Funeral Rituals by Gary F. Santillanes, “Pueblo Indians care for their own dead with no funeral director involved. The family will take the deceased, usually in their truck, back to the home of the deceased and place him or her on the floor facing east to west, on a native blanket. Depending on the deceased's stature in the tribe, his face may be painted in the traditional nature. A powdery substance is placed...

Cited: Silko, Leslie Marmon. “The Man To Send Rain Clouds.” Literature for Composition. Eds. Sylvan Barnet, William Buto, William E. Cain. 8th Ed. New York: Pearson Longman. 2007. 148-151
Santillanes, Gary. “Releasing the Spirit: A Lesson in Native American Funeral Rituals.” October, 1997. The University of Minnesota. December 14, 1998. http://www.umn.edu
U.S. Department of the Interior. Bureau of Land Management. Who Were the Anasazi?. August 18, 2008. http://www.blm.gov/co/st/en/fo/ahc
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