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Comparative study of human mortuary practices and cultural change in the upper Midwest

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Rich, Jennifer
May 2009
Woodland Indians -- Funeral customs and rites -- Middle West; Oneota Indians (Great Plains) -- Funeral customs and rites -- Middle West; Indians of North America -- Funeral customs and rites -- Middle West; Burial -- Middle West
Death is an important part of life and societal identity, and forms a crucial part of the archaeological record. Yet many archaeologists have failed to analyze how the burial patterns change and grow throughout prehistory. The purpose of this paper is to analyze the patterns found in mortuary practices by looking at a series of burial sites spanning the Archaic through Oneota periods in the Upper Midwest. Archaic sites include the Riverside site (Menominee County, MI), Oconto site (Oconto County, WI), and Price Site III (Richland County, WI). The Woodland sites include Rehbein I site (Richland County, WI). Oneota sites include the Tremaine site (La Crosse County, WI), Hogback site (Houston County, MN), and Wilsey site (Houston County, MN). My hypothesis is that as societies develop through time, their mortuary practices will change in terms of the internment, orientation, and type, variety, and association of grave items with specific gender, age, and status. This analysis will uncover a better understanding of prehistoric peoples in the Upper Midwest, especially seen in the social organization during particular time periods.
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