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Sandy Baptist Church Cemetery
Murray County, Oklahoma

The photo above, is of a small house that covers a grave. This small house is common among some tribes of Oklahoma. The house must be erected immediately after the funeral to house the spirit of the deceased individual. We are not talking about 'evil' or 'good' spirits here. We are referring to the 'essence' of the human being. The part that leaves our body when we die. The shelter is to house the spirit for 3 days when one dies. During these 3 days, the spirit retraces the footsteps of his life, visiting friends and relatives and saying goodbye. Also, there is the custom of placing items of glass of various colors that belonged to the deceased. Other items that the departed valued may also be placed in the little house. I have seen crockery, pots & pans as well as a cup and saucer and silver pocket watch with leather fringe and beads, placed on the graves. After the 3 days, the spirit goes to it's final reward. If it is raining the day of the funeral, it is considered a good sign because the rain washes the footsteps of the wondering individual from the earth. This explanation was related to me by a Chickasaw man who got the story from his grandfather.

Photograph and narrative Copyright © 2000, Dennis Muncrief

 

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