Heritage Site / Ethnography Site / Nakawé / Family Life

Article: Death, Burial and Mourning

Due to the diverse seasons and terrain on which the Saulteaux encountered in the travels of their nomadic lifestyle, five different forms of burial were known among them.

The first (and most common) was the "house" type. This type of burial consisted of digging a pit approximately six feet long, three feet wide and four feet deep. The corpse of the deceased was placed in one end of the pit in a sitting position. Upon the completion of the body's placement, a structure of wood that resembled an elongated doghouse roof was placed on top of the pit. On the side opposite the corpse, a small hole is drilled and a small shelf is installed. On this shelf, food and water are placed for four days after to help the deceased on his/her way to "heaven". At times after the burial, a tree was planted at the head of the grave to honour the spirit of the departed.

The second type of grave used by the Saulteaux was shallow and the corpse was wrapped in hide and laid in an extended position. The grave was then covered with poles and filled with earth and rocks to prevent any scavengers from digging up the corpse. The third type was a simple burying of the body
Placing the hide wrapped body on a scaffold or tree was the fourth type of burial that was practised. If no tree was available, then a high scaffold consisting of poles was constructed.