Introduction to the Mortuary Customs of American Indians HTML version

Introduction to the Study of Medicine Practices among the
NorthAmerican Indians
Introduction to the Study of Mythology among the North
Introduction to the Study of Sociology among the North
The mortuary customs of savage or barbaric people have a deep
significance from the fact that in them are revealed much of the
philosophy of the people by whom they are practiced. Early beliefs
concerning the nature of human existence in life and after death
and the relations of the living to the dead are recorded in these
customs. The mystery concerning the future love for the departed
who were loved while here, reverence for the wise and good who
may after death be wiser and better, hatred and fear of those who
were enemies here and may have added powers of enmity in the
hereafter—all these and like considerations have led in every tribe
to a body of customs of exceeding interest as revealing the
opinions, the philosophy of the people themselves.
In these customs, also are recorded evidences of the social
condition of the people, the affection in which friends and kindred
are held, the very beginnings of altruism in primitive life.
In like manner these customs constitute a record of the moral
condition of the people, as in many ways they exhibit the ethic
standards by which conduct in human life is judged. For such
reasons the study of mortuary customs is of profound interest to
the anthropologist.
It is hoped that by this method of research the observations of
many men may be brought together and placed on permanent
record, and that the body of material may be sufficient, by a careful
comparative study, to warrant some general discussion concerning