Persons and Mortuary Practices in the Native Northeast

Author(s): John L. Creese; Kathleen Bragdon

Year: 2015


The incorporation of the dead into the social practices of the living – as revealed by mortuary practices in the Native Northeast – is especially relevant to current archaeological theories of materiality, value, and consumption. This paper presents comparative data from southern New England Algonquian and northern Iroquoian societies to argue that mass burials (including ossuaries and cemeteries) typical of sixteenth and seventeenth century Northeastern aboriginal societies reflected new indigenous ideas about the relation between the individual and the community that emerged in the contact era.  Mortuary ceremonies were occasions where the accumulation and fragmentation of powerful and valued substances – artifacts and human bodies – served to reconfigure relations among living persons within wider collective groups. Our comparative study allows a more nuanced ethnological interpretation of these practices than has previously been attempted.

Cite this Record

Persons and Mortuary Practices in the Native Northeast. John L. Creese, Kathleen Bragdon. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Seattle, Washington. 2015 ( tDAR id: 434044)


Temporal Keywords
1500-1700 AD

Spatial Coverage

min long: -141.003; min lat: 41.684 ; max long: -52.617; max lat: 83.113 ;

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): 429