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Spirit Houses II
Description: Russian Orthodox missionaries arrived in the 1840s. The melding of Orthodox Christianity and native practices resulted in the brightly-colored spirit houses which can be seen at the Knik Cemetery.Before the Russian Orthodox missionaries arrived, it was customary for Athabascans to cremate their dead. When customs started to blend and mix, they began burying their dead in the cemetery built up around the church. When a body is first buried, a blanket is placed over the grave to warm and comfort the soul as it transitions to the next work. Forty days later, the spirit box is placed over the blanket and family members paint it in colors that have represented their name for generations. But unlike in many cemeteries throughout the contiguous United States, the memorial is not kept up. In keeping with Athabascan tradition, which says that that which is taken from the Earth must be allowed to return, the spirit houses are left to decay.
Uploaded on 11/14/2012 5:22:07 PM
Made with Nikon D90 Digital SLR Camera
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