Disinterred by Devotion

in Digging Up the Dead

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print May 2010 | ISBN: 9780226423296
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226423326 | DOI:
Disinterred by Devotion

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Throughout America's history, there have been cases of reburial involving men of the cloth or laypersons deemed inspirational, such as missionaries. In those instances, reburial equates to enshrinement. In other cases, the figures involved were entirely secular, yet their devoted followers lamented that they were buried without receiving proper recognition, often due to racial prejudice. Indeed, some of the most heated disputes about where people should be buried have erupted as a result of intense feelings about religion and race. This is evident in the burials and interments involving Native Americans and Indians. Even Native Americans debated among themselves on which venue was the optimal or the most appropriate one, resulting in attempts to steal the remains—as in the case of the great Sioux chief Sitting Bull. Early Protestant missionaries to the Pacific Northwest, such as George Whitefield, have been key figures in narratives of exhumation and reburial. Another controversial figure as far as burial is concerned is Roger Williams, founder of Rhode Island.

Keywords: missionaries; religion; race; Native Americans; burials; interments; George Whitefield; Roger Williams

Chapter.  11894 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Social and Cultural History

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