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.