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Title Western Sioux cosmology and "Letting go of the ghost" [1919 Aug. 26]
Author Beede, Aaron McGaffey (1859-1934)
Document Type Manuscript
Description From the Newberry Library Catalogue: Typescript ms. of a 1919 paper by A. McG. Beede of Fort Yates, N.D. on the mythology and cosmology of the Western Sioux. By studying and analyzing the cosmology and geo-centric mythology of the Western Sioux (Dakota) Indians, Beede attempts to validate his theory that these Indians were not governed predominantly by their myths; he writes that "myths and myth-cosmology in no way indicate a people’s actual, practical or controlling belief or knowledge-world, or community-procedure". He discusses the importance for the Sioux of "Woniya"--often thought of as identical with the Great Spirit; the connection of Western Sioux worship with rocks and stones, and the construction of their shrines. Leaves 50-65 contain "Letting go of the ghost", Beede’s description of a funeral custom practiced by the Western Sioux, in which they cut a lock of hair from the left temple of the head of the deceased--the point at which the "ghost" of the deceased leaves the body--and form a bundle with it, along with elk teeth and cedar and sage boughs. The bundle is kept for a year by an upright, pious, married man who has agreed to become the "keeper of the ghost".
Places Fort Yates, Bismark, North Dakota, United States
Keywords custom, tradition, religion, folklore, ceremony, death, observation, ethnography, Great Spirit
Theme Observation, Representation and Cultural Encounters
Tribe / Nation
Culture Area Great Plains
Additional Information Beede was a poet and linguist, lawyer, Episcopal missionary to the Indians of North Dakota, and, during 1919 when this paper was written, county judge of Sioux County, Fort Yates, N.D.
Library The Newberry Library
Copyright The Newberry Library
Collection The Edward E. Ayer Collection
Reference VAULT box Ayer MS 64
Catalogue Link The Newberry Library Catalogue