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South American Tribal Death Customs


Throughout North and South America, funeral practices developed that have been rendered extinct in present day for various and obvious reasons. Though one could argue that many of these practices are safe or reasonable, times have changed, and some of these civilizations have disappeared.


Generally, Native American nations in North America believed that the soul leaves the body with the help of rituals. Generally, it was believed the journey to happiness took four days.


In #Sioux tradition, the dead were buried after a year by storing them in hollow trees in their finest clothes.

As a tribute to warriors killed in battle, the #Iroquois conducted "mourning wars", where they raided the enemy and captured one of their number to replace the fallen. Like the #Egyptians, the #Aztecs sent items, livestock, and even slaves to the afterlife in vertical shafts dug into the earth at the bottom of their burial mounds. Among the Maya, the dead were interred under their dwellings, more important tribespeople were buried in elaborate tombs. The kinds of rites performed depended on how one died, which determined where the deceased would go in the afterlife.



Living at high altitudes and in cold climates, the Incas mummified their bodies by desiccation and brought them out at special occasions to consult with them, believing that a person is not truly dead until they are forgotten and irrelevant.


Things get a little hairy in the case of the secluded Yanomami tribe, who are still thriving today and have been consuming their dead for, well, no one knows how long. A nomadic tribe between Venezuela and Brazil, the Yanomami managed to fly under the radar of Spanish Conquistadors and, thus, have held fast to what some might say are their barbaric customs. They leave there dead to nature for several weeks, then cremate the remnants and consume the ashes in a banana soup. it's their belief that their deceased loved ones will not find peace unless they are consumed by the family.


There are many Indian groups in South America that believe a human being has multiple souls, each of which resides in a different part of the body and is responsible for a variety of aspects of life. Each soul meets a different fate after death. It's this belief system that prompts the Yanomami to consume the bone soul of their deceased loved ones, and there is widespread evidence that South American Indian tribes either preserve or otherwise use the dead bones meticulously. There is no place for modern funeral etiquette in their culture.



Life does not end with death for indigenous people in #Ecuador. Typically, they do not speak about the deceased as "dead"; instead, they refer to them as "Ñawparirka," which means "the one with whom we are associated." At the funeral, the community joins the family and plays games with them. Additionally, they place tools and food in the coffin because they believe the Ñawparirka must work in the next life.


The #Chinchorro #mummies are mummified remains of members of the South American Chinchorro culture that were found in what is now northern #Chile. They are the oldest known artifacts of human mummification. They were made by a hunter-gatherer group known as the Chinchorro people, who mummified their dead roughly 2,000 years before the ancient Egyptians began mummifying their pharaohs.


Death according to #Andean cosmology is a contact with the beyond and permits the ongoing flow of energy between three realms: the world of the dead, the world of the living and the world beyond. Death is viewed as a transition, not an end, in the #Amazon basin.


The body's death makes way for a necessary transformation.





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