Sacred Native American Burial Grounds

Indians vs Native Americans. The Indigenous peoples of North America were called Indians by the explorers who landed on our eastern shores, thinking that they had landed in the country of India. Oops. Somehow the name stuck. We are dumb that way.
At the beginning of the 1960's, during the beginning of the politically correct movement, when white people were still very uncomfortable with races other than their own, they became very self-conscious about this ancient error and attempted to correct it by renaming the indigenous peoples, without their consent or opinion, Native Americans. Indians have always hated this handle and do not use it in referring to their own people. They refer to themselves as Indians. Indians tend to care very little for the comfort level of white people or their politically correct ideas.

White people tend to see Indians as a very spiritual people. The "new-age" movement of the sixties tended to appropriate (steal) Indian spirituality, shamanism, and various ceremonial rites for themselves. Now we have white people performing "smudging" rites to cleanse haunted houses, etc. Dumb.

I am a paranormal investigator and researcher, in case you didn't know that. I recently received an email from a reader who advised me to get out there with a recorder and do some investigating of the Gettysburg battlefield to see what it was like myself, so I am setting the record straight. As an aside, it is now illegal to investigate on the official battlefield and also illegal to go onto the battlefield after dark.

I have been on many investigations where investigators asked if there were any Native Americans there. If there were any Indian ghosts hanging around from the 1800's, they would think you meant anyone who was born on North American soil. They have never heard that term. Dumb.

Here is my pet peeve, the thing that absolutely drives me nuts on an investigation;  when someone starts to blame the Indians for the haunting. Here is a sample of what I mean: "I wonder if there is a Native American Burial Ground under this house? I wonder if Native Americans are buried on this property? I wonder if we have stirred up the Native American spirits on this land?"

There have been many Hollywood movies made on this theme, where the Indian ghosts rise up and take revenge upon the living who have built a condo on their grave. Ouch.

Here's the deal. There are many sacred Indian burial grounds in North America. Not all of them have been identified, but if they have been, they are protected by US law. (see the end of this blog entry for information).
This land is very old. We don't really know how old. Generation upon generation of people have died and been buried here. Everywhere the dead are interred beneath our feet. So, everywhere you step, everywhere  you build, everywhere you walk, the dead are beneath you. Your generation stands upon the preceding generations back in time to the beginning.  Are some of them Indians? Maybe. Do they feel disrespected when you build on top of them? I don't know. Somehow I doubt it. I think they have moved on from that to other, more important issues in the afterlife.
Regardless of what you believe or think, stop blaming the Indians for hauntings. One thing I learned when researching for this entry is that contemporary Indians do get very angry when paranormal investigators provoke at Indian grave sites. That is absolutely taboo. Do not do it. I was also very surprised to learn that there has been a huge increase in paranormal investigators going to official Indian Burial Grounds to investigate. It is not illegal to do so if you have the permission of the officials in charge of the site. It is strongly advised that you take a tribal member with you, if you can get the consent of one to go, which is doubtful. The key here is respect. Isn't it the issue for all grave sites? all investigations? respect the dead?
Let's face it. Paranormal Investigating is an edgy endeavor. It is risky, questionable, at times possibly dangerous, and often, by its very nature, disrespectful of the dead. After all, let's admit it. We are provoking the dead to speak to us, to reveal themselves to us. to manifest. And, as much as a group will deny that they provoke, when the night is getting late and the paranormal activity is not happening, we tend to bring out the big guns, use stronger "encouragement". Some go farther than others, and some never provoke, but it is a problem. It happens too often.
So next time you are on an investigation, don't call upon Native Americans or you might get your great aunt Beatrice from Pokeepsie. Don't smudge or use other Indian rituals during your investigation. Bad idea. Those rituals are not yours to use. Keep in your mind that you are walking on top of generation upon generation of the dead. You will someday be a part of the layers of soil under the feet of your children and grandchildren. Be respectful.

Go to the U.S. Government's own website to read about this:

Below is an excerpt from the government site on grave protection:

Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act of November 16, 1990
The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) is the primary federal legislation pertaining to graves and human remains in archaeological contexts. It requires that remains and artifacts be returned to identified descendents or groups if and when they are uncovered during activities such as archaeological excavations. NAGPRA establishes definitions of burial sites, cultural affiliation, cultural items, associated and unassociated funerary objects, sacred objects, cultural patrimony, Indian tribes, museums, Native Americans and Native Hawaiians, right of possession, and tribal land. NAGPRA gives guides and priorities concerning the ownership or control of Native American cultural items that are excavated or discovered on federal or tribal lands after the date of enactment of the act. Guides are given concerning the intentional excavation and removal of Native American human remains and objects on federal or tribal land, as well as for the inadvertent discovery of Native American remains and objects on federal or tribal lands. Process is established in assisting federal agencies and museums in the determination of the appropriate Native American group responsible for disposition of various human remains, funerary objects, sacred objects, and materials of cultural patrimony. NAGPRA required that all museums make an inventory of such items, stipulating that geographical and cultural affiliation be identified if possible, and that upon request from a tribe a museum or federal agency would provide documentation and repatriate materials if "appropriate."
Native American human remains, graves, and ritual objects located on federal and tribal land are encouraged to be protected in situ. In cases where in place preservation is not possible, or if archaeological excavation is necessary for planning or research, or if the remains are inadvertently discovered, then consultation is necessary prior to excavation under an Archaeological Resources Protection Act permit. If remains covered by the law are discovered, the project will be stopped for 30 days while the review and consultation process proceeds.

For additional information on cemetery, burial site, and sacred ground laws visit: 

"Pau Wau", Ghost Danxe Series, 2000,  Pam Wellington, 48"x60", acrylic on canvas, $2,000.


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