Sunday, January 8, 2012

Indian Burial Grounds

Today I welcome blogger Emily Matthews, who examines the lore associated with hauntings and Native American burial grounds and hauntings from a skeptics perspective:

It’s the stuff of legend. Do you have a poltergeist in your house? It was probably built over a Native American burial site. The legend goes that by disturbing the souls of the dead, a veritable Pandora’s Box is opened, ushering forth the angry spirits of Chippewa shamans, Cherokees soldiers, and Iroquois chiefs, back for revenge. But where did this legend come from? Why does it persist, and why does it continue to frighten us?


The origins of the “Indian burial ground” legend come from sightings of Native American ghosts near areas rumored, or even proven, to be the final resting place of a local tribe. Such areas can be an old farmhouse in a Midwestern town or even a multimillion-dollar mansion in the Hollywood Hills.

In fact, the remains of the dead were blamed for the vacancy of the Hollywood mansion on Solar Drive, and a murder was rumored to have occurred there. It was deemed uninhabitable after squatters, drug dealers, and thrill-seeking teenagers ravaged the place. But, in the case of the house, the existence of Native American graves was unproven, and it becomes a perfect example of the power and potency of the lore.

Strange occurrences are attributed to burial grounds automatically, without even needing to research the history of the area. It doesn’t take a master’s degree in anthropology to see that this stems from our fascination with a mystical and highly spiritual culture and religion perceived of the American Indian. Instead of the body resting and the soul rising, the soul lingers, especially when disturbed.

So, why does this legend still capture our imagination and frighten us today? Even a skeptic can be spooked by visiting one of the many burial grounds in the United States at dark. Thousands are drawn, for example, to a suburb in Long Island, New York to see the actual house featured in the movie The Amityville Horror. The house, purported to be built over Native American remains, was the place of the horrific murder of six people. Even after the murders, strange noises and footsteps, foul odors, and foreign substances were reported when new owners took over.

Although the experiences of the new owners were dismissed as false, the site still brings visitors hoping for a paranormal experience. These visitors are drawn the experience of the supernatural; something abnormal and other-worldly. Perhaps they are there to confront not only the fear of death, but the possibility of life after the death, and the power that a bodiless spirit could retain.
Whatever the reason, the legend of the Native American burial ground still fascinates us today. We seem to be drawn to the power and possibility of life after death as well as the potential the “spirit world” has to disrupt our own lives. Perhaps we are also drawn to the mystical religion of the Native Americans that seems both foreign and palpable. Regardless, there are many legends and ghost stories to explore and enjoy.

5 comments:

Adsila said...

I am fascinated by the Native American culture and beliefs. I love visiting the ruins which are all over AZ.

Robin's Egg Bleu said...

I live in San Diego, and in the Mission Valley area, in new construction apartments there have been many sightings of Native American spirits...the area was inhabited by them long before and they were integral to the Mission system. I also hear of many Native American ghosts up in the new developments in Temecula, also long inhabited by the Native Americans. It's no surprise to me at all.

magikalseasons said...

When I was 7 my family went on a 4 week long trip to many western states. We visited many reservations. I saw a Native American Man or what I thought was a man standing behind a woman and her young daughters selling jewelry. I know he was there feathers in his hair and dressed not in modern clothes. But when I looked down at the table he was gone. I did not see him leave. I asked the girls where their dad went. The mother said he had passed. I asked my mother and brother and only I saw him. They told me it must have been a trick of the sun and light. Since then I have loved Native folklore and any tales or Native American Indian legends.

Jessica Penot said...

Adsila...I love it too. They have such interesting culture and lore.

robin's egg....Even here in Alabama we have Native American ghost sitings. They were here much longer than white people have been here and I think they've left more ghosts.

magikalseasons...Wow! That is an amazing story. I would be interested in Native American culture and history too if I had an experience like that.

Anonymous said...

There is an experience that has been related to me by my mother and late father. This occurred a year before I was born. My parents both lived in New York at the time. My mother was living with her mom in the Bronx, and my father had an appartment in Brooklyn. He told her one day that his apartment had visitors. According to him, things were always disturbed in the apartment when he got home from work; "Things were moved around." After going to bed, every night around the same time he would see two Native Americans at the foot of his bed. They were a younger man and an older man and appeared to be looking at something off in the distance. My mother did not believe him. He invited her to spend that night at the apartment to see for herself. After an extended period of saying no, she finally relented and agreed. She spent the night...and she says she saw them. My mother says she fled the apartment in a panic. Yes later, when trying to get information from my father in an attempt to help identify what he believed he saw, I discovered that we had Native American blood on both sides of the family.