Mortuary Practices among the Algonquin and their Social Significance Term Paper

Mortuary Practices among the Algonquin and their Social Significance
An examination of the mortuary practices of the Algonquin of Canada, with special reference to their origin and social significance.
# 153991 | 3,971 words | 26 sources | 2014 | CA
Published by on Aug 24, 2014 in Anthropology (Cultural) , Archaeology (Other Regions)

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From the Paper:

"In the past three decades, several highly publicized confrontations in Canada between various First Nations groups and local residents in places such as Oka, Quebec (1990), Ipperwash Provincial Park, Ontario (1995), and Caledonia, Ontario (2006) have brought to the attention of the Canadian public yet again the longstanding and as-yet-unresolved clash of worldviews that began when Europeans first came to and settled in North America. While the media focused on the more sensational aspects of these crises, an important element in the conflict was largely ignored, namely, the fact that the First Nations peoples in each case were fighting to protect ancient sacred burial grounds, which were being threatened with desecration.Burial of the dead plays an important part in Native Indian culture and establishes links between the living, the ancestors, and the land. This paper will explore the various methods used by the Algonquin to mark the passage from life to death as well as the rituals, ceremonies, and other practices surrounding death, with particular reference to the mythology and religious beliefs that underlie these practices and the controversies that arise from the scientific study of Algonquin burial grounds.
"The starting point for any understanding of Native mortuary practices is the nexus of religious beliefs that underpin these practices; and the starting point for any discussion of native religious beliefs is almost certainly the Native Creation myths. The most widespread Native myth of human origins, also found among the Algonquin, is the one involving atrickster hare, known variously as Wenebojo, Wenabozho, Minabozho, Manabush, Nanibozhu, Michabous etc. (Vennum 1978; Carroll 1984; Johnson 2004). According to the Ojibwe version of this legend, a flood covers the earth following Wenebojo's slaying of the wicked manito (or manidog; in some versions it is two underwater kings who are slain) who had caused his friend (or nephew), the wolf, to drown. Wenebojo orders certain animals to dive under the flood and bring some mud back to the surface so that he can re-create the earth. The first two animals, a beaver and an otter, are unsuccessful, but a third, the muskrat, brings up five grains of sand, from which Wenebojo re-creates the earth, and all the animals find suitable habitats for themselves (Ballinger 1985; Haseltine 1985; Johnson 2004; Barnouw 1955).Quoting from the memoirs of Nicolas Perrot, Johnson (2004) continues the narrative to include the creation of humans."

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