My Wonderful Life

Native American Funeral Traditions


Because of the large number of Native American tribes in North America it is impossible to detail the funeral traditions of each tribe.

Historically, many Native Americans believed that the spirits of the dead stayed among the living until all death rituals were completed. These rites, which could take up to two years, were performed in ghost lodges where the body of the deceased was kept before burial. They believed that these rites lead to the passage into the “land of the grandparents” where the deceased joined relatives who had died.

In the Ojibwa tribe it was customary to cut the hair of a child who had died and create a small doll from it, which they called a ”doll of sorrow.” The mother of the deceased child carried the doll with her for one year to facilitate the transition of the child’s soul from the body to the doll.

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