Native American Research Project



Native American
Research Project

The Native American Research Project is intended to provide a place where those with special interest in Native American families from Kingfisher County and surrounding areas may share their genealogical findings. These may include records of any kind, including census records, birth, marriage, and death records, and land records.

If you would like to share your research, please send your information to me at TimeTrvlrO@aol.com, with "NATIVE AMERICAN RESEARCH PROJECT" in the subject line. (If you send your information as an attachment, please be sure that it is in .txt format.)

submitted by Barbara Clayton

Indian Burial Ground

Source: The Cheyenne Transporter, January 28, 1886

In one of our recent rambles, we ran across an Indian burial ground of more than ordinary interest.  It is situated about half a mile north of CURLEY's log house, between five and six miles northwest of the Agency, on a hill commanding a magnificent view in all directions.  From this point the river valley can be commanded for miles both north and south - the Kingfisher valley spreads in every direction. 

Fort Reno stands boldly forth in the landscape on its prominence, while the Agency nestles snugly in the valley.  Due east stands the Cheyenne school building upon a high hill, with its grove of timber skirting to the southward.  So much for the surroundings.  The burial place consists of a platform, anchored to small trees - the whole being a scaffolding of poles set upon twenty-three forked poles. 

Upon this platform, in plain view for miles, are the bodies of seven Cheyenne Indians, each body wrapped in blanket after blanket, shawl after shawl, and finally, as an outside covering, white duck.  Each body presents the appearance of a huge white bundle, several feet long and nearly as high, rounding at the top. 

The newness of the poles, etc., shows where the first small platform was built to the tree and loaded with its burden of dead humanity, afterward platform after platform was added as the deaths occurred, until seven bodies now occupy this resting place.  Thus it will grow until the elements will scatter them broadcast upon the ground. 

Upon the platform, hanging to branches and dead limbs and scattered on the ground, are various household utensils:  In view we noticed five small pails, a cup and saucer, two tin cups, four small coffee pots, one tin plate, a wash basin, medicine pouch, a hoe and an axe. 

A space ten feet around is trampled clear of grass and weeds, and a few feet away is the medicine pole with a small medicine box (trunk) at its base.  The bodies of two horses, shot at the funeral ceremonies, are close at hand.  It is the Indian belief that the horses, blankets and household articles, will be of use to their dead in the happy hunting grounds - their ideal heaven. 

The habit of burying their dead on platforms and in trees is a custom of the Northern Cheyennes, and Robert BENT, our well known interpreter, informs us that he has noticed as many as thirt-five childrens' bodies swung up in an immense cottonwood tree up north on the Arkansas river.  The prevailing custom of the Cheyennes and Arapahoes on the reservation is to select the high point of a sandhill or ridge, scoop out a shallow hole and, amid the most dismal wailing and mourning, bury the body with its load of wrappings. 

A few limbs of trees are scattered over the newly made grave, a can of water is placed upon it and a few household utensils scattered around.  A horse is then shot down near the grave.  A few mourning relatives haunt the locality for several weeks, and persons traveling across the country frequently run across one of these parties with their plaintive wailings.

The above is reproduced from the TRANSPORTER of March 10, 1882.  We have watched with interest this burial ground and treated on the subject on different occasions.  It has been an object to the sight-seeing party, and only two years ago was sketched by an eastern party and appeared in an illustrated paper. 

As above stated, the custom of burying their dead on platforms is practiced by the Northern Cheyennes, and as this branch of the tribe was removed north three years ago their burial ground was abandoned and left at the mercy of the elements.  Soon pole after pole and body after body began tumbling down, until last summer the whole mass lay in one heap upon the ground. 

Along came the sweeping fall prairie fires, and all that is now left of those seven Indian bodies are a few crisply burned skulls and other bones.  Thus is the sequel of the story of the Northern Cheyenne burial ground.

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This page was last updated on June 5, 2006.