Friday, March 18, 2011

Indian Sovereignty in Burials

 Ojibway style burial huts. The Ojibway would bury the bodies in a shallow hole and place huts over the burial mounds. This picture is from Minnesota.Not sure if this was a relatively new custom (contact with European religion?) for our People.
This picture is of an Ojibway burial hut/house. Taken from the Website of Debb's Photostream.


I have only seen this at Swan Lake First Nation in Manitoba. My cousin Ernest is married to Charlotte of Swan Lake. The Reserve still does this type of burial as far as I can see.
I would hope that someday it could revived in our community.  As it is we use the Roman Catholic and the Anglican burial sites and customs.

My Dad is eighty years old and is planning his burial. Or at least he is letting us (Jean, Don and myself) his wishes. He does not want to burden the family with expense of a funeral. He does want to have a one day service. One night of a Wake and the next day a quick service. My Dad does not want to be buried or to have a casket. He would like to be cremated. We are to have his body wrapped in blankets. That does seem like a nice idea. However, the rules of cremation or that he is to be a "combustible enclosure". So I am wondering if wrapped in blankets would be a combustible enclosure. I have since read that cardboard, caskets and even canvas bags have been used, so I think blankets should be okay.

That is also another issue that we are considering, the provincial laws in our Reserve and how they apply. We say we are sovereign, but that is not true. Everything we do is governed by either federal or provincial laws. From the birth of our Children to the Burial of our Elders.
I have not asked a funeral director of the rules but the legislation is not clear on Traditional funerals. There are certain prodocals for other ethnic groups but not sure how it applies to Indians on Reserve.

Just thinking aloud on what we will do for Dad. It is a hard thing to think like that but I want it to be alright for the family. I remember that my Mom's obituary had many mistakes and family members left out. That is the case when people are distraught and having to look after the arrangement for the loved one.

I think a lot of people are looking at alternatives to the use of caskets. There  is The Centre for Natural Burial that would like to have a less of a footprint on the Earth.

I did talk to one Funeral Director in the area and he said we had to have casket. It was much later that I found out that is not the case. This lady is a funeral director from our Reserve and she was happy to follow Dad's wishes. Dad passed October 21, 2013.

Dad wishes were followed. Here he is with Funeral Director of our Reserve. Natasha

Me, Suz, Aviree-Don & Dad,

Traveling Song for Dad

Dad with his grandkids.

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