To the Indian
the prospect of his own paradise was
‘We raise not our thoughts,’ they would say to the missionaries, ‘to your heaven; we desire only the paradise of our ancestors.’
To the doctrine of a
Relation 1655, 1656, p. 95
future life they listened readily.
The idea of retribution, as far as it has found its way among them, was derived from Europeans.
The future life was to the Indian
, like the present, a free gift; some, it was indeed believed, from feebleness or age, did not reach the paradise of shades; but no red man was so proud as to believe that its portals were opened to him by his own good deeds.
Their notion of immortality was, as we have seen, a faith in the continuance of life; they did not expect a general resurrection; nor could they be induced, in any way, to believe that the body will be raised up Yet no nations paid greater regard to the remains of their ancestors.
Every where among the Choctas and the Wyandots, Cherokees and Algonquins, they were carefully wrapped in choicest furs, and preserved with affectionate veneration.
Once every few years, the Hurons collected from their scattered cemeteries the bones of their dead, and, in the midst of great solemnities, cleansed them from every remainder of flesh, and deposited them in one common grave: these are their holy relics.
Other nations possess, in letters and the arts, enduring monuments of their ancestors; the savage red men, who can point to no obelisk or column, whose rude implements of agriculture could not even raise a furrow on the surface of the earth, excel all races in veneration for the dead.
The grave is their only monument,—the bones of their fathers the only pledges of their history.
A deeper interest belongs to the question of the