Most deceased Indians are not genuinely dead; they are living people who are perceived by Europeans to correspond to a well-worn image based on "war bonnets, beaded shirts, fringed deerskin costumes." According to King, dead Indians may be found in "... rodeos, powwows, movies, and television advertising."
An estimated 5 million Native Americans were living within the borders of the United States in 1700. By 1900, only 250,000 remained. The majority of these Indians were removed from their homes during the 1830s-1870s under the terms of the Indian Removal Act of 1831 and the Trail of Tears Treaty of 1835.
After removal, Indians were given small tracts of land in place of their former territories. Most became farmers or worked as laborers. Some learned trades and opened businesses. Others took up arms against the government with which they had no choice but to live.
Indians made up nearly one-third of the U.S. population in 1790, but by 1850, this number had dropped to less than 1%. The cause of this dramatic decline is unclear but has been attributed to war, disease, and displacement. It is known that many Indians died during the course of the American Revolution in what is now called the "Indian War"; some historians estimate that it killed as many as 20% of all Indians then living in North America.
Some tribes bury their deceased in caverns or ravines that have been walled in with rocks, while others bury them in trees, on scaffolds, or buried in or on the ground. The bodies are swathed in blankets and shawls. Many of the Indians' personal belongings are buried beside them or placed on the grave. The bones of the deceased may be used for many purposes by some tribes, such as for medicine or for decoration.
The Aztecs burned their dead so they wouldn't rise again, but this practice was not common among the native peoples of North America.
Native Americans didn't have any special places where they would go to honor their dead, although some tribes might place some stones or trees on their graves as a sign of respect.
There is no specific rule about how long you wait before burying another person, but generally speaking if you waited too long then more animals would come by and use up the body's nutrients, but if you didn't wait long enough then more people would come along and want to use up the body's resources.
In either case, there wouldn't be much left for the original owner. Either way, it's best to put off burial until you can be sure that nobody is going to walk away from the site. This could mean waiting a few days or months depending on the situation.
In Aboriginal tradition, funerals and grieving are very much communal activities. There is a longstanding custom among certain Aboriginal cultures of avoiding uttering the name of a deceased person or representing them in imagery. It is said that doing so will upset their spirits.
The Aztecs believed that the soul could be kept alive in some form for several days after someone died. This allowed friends and family to say goodbye, but also made terrorizing the dead more appealing. The Spanish adopted this practice, and it is likely they contributed it to other cultures as well.
In Chinese culture, the afterlife is of great importance. When someone dies, their relatives organize a funeral ceremony where many people share stories about and pay tribute to the person being honored. These ceremonies can last for many days or even weeks.
In Egyptian culture, the soul lingers near the body until such time as God decides what role it will play in the next world. If there is no child of legal age living at the time of death, then the body must be preserved by mummification. Otherwise, the soul cannot enter heaven without first passing through the underworld known as "the netherworld."
In Greek mythology, those who die without children or siblings go to Hades.
"I will stay what I am until I die, a hunter, and when there are no buffalo or other animals, I will send my children to hunt and survive on prairie mice, for when an Indian is trapped in one location, his body grows weak," a Sioux chief declared. The majority of Plains Indians had no choice but to go to the savanna. They could not farm the land because it was too hard to live on. There were also not enough edible plants to feed them all.
When Europeans arrived on the scene, they found many Indian tribes who lived in large communities where everyone did their part to keep the tribe strong. Everyone from young children to old people sang songs, told stories, made medicine, and fought with weapons to protect their tribe.
But most Indians were forced into slavery. First, the soldiers took them away in war times to be used as slaves on military campaigns or to work in gold mines or farms. When there were no more wars or white people wanted more help than just our warriors, they started trading with the Indians for guns and goods. This is how the settlers were able to build such big cities as Pittsburgh and Denver. They used Indian labor to cut down trees, mine for minerals, and do other work outside the camp area that needed to be done for their businesses to succeed.
In time, the Indians were not allowed to speak their native languages or practice their customs.