Apache Death Rituals Essay

Jonnie Yarborough Mrs. Parrish PSY-241-NO1 12-05-09 Apache Death Rituals There are many Native American tribes but I decided to write on the Apaches and their approach to death and how they went about burying their dead. I didn’t realize that it would be so hard to find information and just how much of a secret their death rituals were. I did find out that if a squaw dies, they don’t honor her death. If it was a woman they considered her death of no account.

They bury their dead in the cover of the night and do not let outsiders view the dead nor do they morn in public. I was able to find out that when an Apache died, they would bury them with all their possessions and anything they may have touched recently. This started way back and it was because of the smallpox outbreak that they started this custom that is still practiced today. They bury the deceased and lay rocks over their body so that the wolves or other animals can’t dig up their body and desecrate the remains.

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I find it very interesting that they are so private with the way that they perform their rituals. Their beliefs are very mythological. They go to great lengths to ensure that the dead do not come back and try to lure the living to go with them although I could not find out what the lengths they took were. They believe that upon death a soul remains close to home for four days; if a proper funeral and burial is held, the soul is freed to make its way to the Land of Ever Summer, as some call it.

Only one or two relatives would prepare the corpse while others went into mourning. At the graveside the deceased horse would be killed. The burial party would leave the grave site by a different rout in which they came, being careful not to look back or discussing the location of the grave with others when they returned. The burial party would discard their clothes and wash themselves thoroughly to avoid the vengeful, evil nature of the ghost of the deceased from causing harm to the mourners.

The topic of reincarnation is controversial. Some believe in it and others don’t. The believers think that the dead return as wolves. I wish I could have found out more about how they go about burying their dead instead of their just their beliefs but it is interesting how their beliefs differ so greatly from ours and what little I could find out about the actual ceremony. I conducted an interview in this class about a life review. I interviewed my grandmother on November 30, 2009.

Four days later at 4:03pm, on December 3rd, she died in the hospital from a kidney infection that spread into her bloodstream. All her loved ones sat by her side for two days and said our farewells. We mourned quietly when she passed but it was no secret that we were hurt and we did not try to make it one. We hugged each other and tried to comfort each other the best we could. Within 30 minutes of her passing, we were making the funeral arrangements.

She will not be embalmed so she will have a closed casket and will be buried tomorrow. Her pastor will conduct the service and everyone will be there. As soon as I finish this paper I will make the four hour drive, the same one I have made twice in the past two days, to be with the family as soon as I finish this paper. This funeral and the reactions of the family are very traditional to American ways as far as I am concerned.

There are different methods that we used such as cremation or open casket but these were my grandmother’s wishes and we will fulfill them for her. She will be buried beside her husband, my grandfather, and we will leave the same way we came. We don’t believe that her spirit will come back to lure others to go with her but we do believe that her spirit will be looking over us and protecting us from above content that she is now with the ones that left her too soon in her life. In loving memory of Shirley Simmons who will be greatly missed.


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