1870 Historical Photo of Sioux Graves on Poles

Many Plains Indian tribes 'buried' their dead on poles raised above the ground, or in the fork of a tree. The reasons were practical as well as cultural: often, as often as not in the West, the ground was frozen and not easily dug through.  According to one Assiniboine quoted in the Smithsonian in the 1930s, a "burial tree," as they are known, made it so that the body was inaccessible to scavenging animals, kept the body respectfully clear of mud and muck, and made it easy to visit and speak to the dead. 

This particular photograph of a burial tree comes with a tale of adventure.  According to the writing on the back of the photograph, "This photo was in Montana and while Mr. Morrow was taking the pictures he was shot at by an Indian that objected to his taking the photo. Mr. Morrow was a good runner and the Indian a poor shot. This spot was about a mile from the river where the 'Boat' was taking on wood. The captain of the boat advised Mr. Morrow to not go for the photo; but he went anyhow and nearly lost his life. Mr. Morrow never went armed, he spoke the Sioux language very good.'

Make sure to click on the photograph to inspect the fine details!

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