So their remains may rest: Cherokee death rituals and repatriation

Date
2009-05
Authors
Chowritmootoo, Michan
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Abstract

"Practices that surround the burial of the dead represent some of the most conservative and traditional aspects of cultural behavior." Roy S. Dickens

"So Their Remains May Rest" will explore early Cherokee customs and practices governing death, mourning, and burials in hopes of providing a better understanding of the effects of legislation in particular the "Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act" have had on the three federally recognized Cherokee bands, the non-recognized Cherokee bands, as well as on the anthropological and historical disciplines. In addition, this research will evaluate the effectiveness of the repatriation² legislation, particularly in relation to the Cherokees.

This subject was selected with the anticipation that with the Cherokee's development of a written language there would be an abundance of primary sources with a native voice. Further research of this topic has shown (proven) the opposite to be true; what was discovered were papers, studies and diaries of European settlers, missionaries and scholars, (with) their observations often running contrary to one another. Thus presenting a challenge of finding a balance between the native voice and the dominate non-native voice. Much of the Native American chapter in America's history has been forgotten; with entire histories of vastly different and complex societies lumped together and relegated to the footnotes of our history books. So much information has been scattered, lost to pillagers, time and/or lack of interest that it is the goal of this research to help reconstruct some of the scattered information or at the very least supply someone else with a good starting point.

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Keywords
Cherokee death rituals, Repatriation, American history, Native American studies, Social sciences
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