Historic Haida Pit Burial

A simple, archaic burial for the commoners of this indigenous society
haida carvings

Haida carvings. Photo by Turbulent Flow

Despite some unpleasant connotations throughout history, pit burial was once commonplace among the indigenous people of the American northwest coast (modern-day British Columbia). The Haida people, rather than individual burial, would place the remains of people who had died into a large open pit behind their village.

Rather than embalmment, caskets or even cremation, these remains were left to nature, which, some written accounts report, resulted in a harsh stench in these villages. The practice ended sometime after white contact in the Americas, and it’s outlawed today.

Though this most simple of burials is somewhat unremarkable, what’s interesting about the Haida practices is that these practices were reserved for the commoners. Chiefs, shamans or warriors who had died received greater treatment. Because men of these classes were highly respected and recognized in the Haida society, their burial was a little more special.

For these special burials, the remains were preserved in a small wooden box — a box too small to hold an adult human body, so the remains were first crushed with clubs to fit inside! The box would be placed atop a totem pole in front of the longhouse of the man’s tribe. These totem poles displayed various various icons, which acted as guardians of the man’s spirit as it made its journey into the next world.

After death, the Haida believed a person’s soul was released and taken up by newborn members of the family.  When a new child was born, they would watch its actions and features, searching for signs of whose soul they had inherited. Their home acted as a protection of these souls until death, when the cycle would repeat.

For more bizarre burial and funeral rituals around the world:


Enhanced by Zemanta
This entry was posted in Cultural Perspectives and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Historic Haida Pit Burial

  1. avatar Alysa says:

    There is, for the example, a profession of cesspool solution – who for you to be
    the one particular? As part of many occasions, you have to know where your
    cesspool is found.

    Report this comment

  2. avatar Winona says:

    There’s nothing worse than an, “Are we there yet,” 10 mins in a very three-hour
    flight. Drinking is not really only restricted to younger crowd.

    Report this comment

  3. avatar fashion-zone.pl says:

    As a favorite tunes lover, it is eligible as a lifetimes companion.
    The tempo Adagio slow movements evoke a warm and delightful sensibility (“Adagio” represents slowly).

    Report this comment

  4. avatar niezawodniepiekna says:

    This sport has become barbeque favorite among females these days.
    Advantageous managers know that particular customer service may be
    the lifeblood of nearly successful company.

    Report this comment

  5. avatar Sogreah.Pl says:

    But home health care and attention is a good budget friendly to be able to an assisted coping
    center or an elderly care facility. Every time insurer has another criteria to encounter.

    Report this comment

  6. avatar zyciespoleczne says:

    Starting a mission over people goes a long way about improving performance.
    You want to plug with your market in a real way.

    Report this comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *