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Native American Afterlife Mythology

Native American beliefs about the afterlife vary greatly from tribe to tribe. In the traditions of many Native American tribes, the souls of the dead pass into a spirit world, where they can occasionally still communicate with the living through dreams or the intercession of medicine people. In other tribes there is a more structured land of the dead, often presided over by a god of death or other supernatural caretaker. In some tribes there is no Native American afterlife per se-- dead people are believed to become stars or part of the earth unless they are disturbed and turned into ghosts by grave robbing or other unnatural acts. And in some tribes there is no afterworld at all because the spirits of the dead are reincarnated as new infants within their family or clan.

The Afterworld or Land of the Dead in Various Tribes

*Big Sand (Gros Ventre Indian spirit world)
*Skeleton House (Hopi Indian spirit world)
*Xibalba (Maya Indian underworld)

Native American Afterworld Gods and Spirits

Chibiabos (Potawatomi Indian afterlife god)
Masau'u (Hopi Indian afterlife god)
Mateguas (Abenaki Indian afterlife god)
Mahwaew (Menominee Indian afterlife god)
Sedna (Inuit underworld god)

Native American Legends about the Afterworld

*The Spirit Bride * The Worm Pipe:
    Native American legends about grieving men who follow their wives to the afterworld.
*Blue Jay Visits Ghost Town * Ioi and the Ghost World:
    Chinook Indian legends about the hero Blue-Jay in the Land of the Dead.
*The Happy Hunting Ground:
    Traditional Narragansett beliefs about the afterlife.
*Coyote Regulates Life After Death:
    Caddo legend about Coyote and the afterlife.
*Faith * The Cree Way:
    Oral history from Cree elders about spirits of the dead returning to share wisdom about the afterlife.

Recommended Books of Afterworld Stories from Native American Myth and Legend

Ghosts, Spirits & the Afterlife in Native American Folklore and Religion:
    Interesting book about concepts of death and the spirit world in Native American cultures.
Ghost Walk: Native American Tales of the Spirit:
    A book of Native American stories and legends about interactions with benevolent spirits of the dead.



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