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Bereavement Rituals in the Muscogee Creek Tribe

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A qualitative, collective case study explores bereavement rituals in the Muscogee Creek tribe. Data from interviews with 27 participants, all adult members of the tribe, revealed consensus on participation in certain bereavement rituals. Common rituals included (a) conducting a wake service the night before burial; (b) never leaving the body alone before burial; (c) enclosing personal items and food in the casket; (d) digging graves by hand; (e) each individual throwing a handful of dirt into the grave before covering, called giving a "farewell handshake"; (f) covering the grave completely by hand; (g) building a house over the grave; (h) waiting 4 days before burial; (i) using medicine/purification; and (j) adhering to socialized mourning period. Cultural values of family, community, religion, importance of the number 4, Indian medicine, and the meaning of death contributed to the development of these rituals.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Oral Roberts University, Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA 2: Brooklyn College of the City University of New York, Brooklyn, New York, USA

Publication date: August 1, 2007

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