Burial customs practiced by Creek Freedmen


Last Updated: 20 years

The Creek sho take on when somebody die! Long in de night you wake up and hear a gun go off, way yonder somewhar. Den it go again and again, jest as fast as they can ram de load in. Dat mean somebody die. When somebody die, de men go out in de yard and let people know dat way. Den dey jest go back in de house and let de fire go out and don’t even tech de dead person till somebody get dar who has a right to touch de dead.


When somebody had sick dey build a fire in de house, even in de summer and don’t let it die down till dat person git well or die. When dey die dey lit de fire out.

In de morning everybody dress up fine and go to de house whar de dead is and stand around in de yard outside de house and don’t go in. Pretty soon along come somebody what got a right to tech and handle de dead and dey go in. I don’t know what give dem de right, but I thinking dey has to go through some kind of medicine to get de right, and I know dey has to drink de red root and purge good before day tech de body.

When dey git de body ready dey come out and all go to de graveyard, mostly de family graveyard, right on de place or at some of the kinfolkses.

When dey git to de grave somebody shoots a gun at de north, den de west, den de south, and den de east. Iffen dey had four guns dey used em.

Den dey put de body down in de grave and put some extra clothes in with it and some food and cup of coffee, maybe. Den dey takes strips of elm bark, and lays over de body till it all covered up, and den throw in de dirt.

When de last dir throwed in, everybody must clap dey hands and smile, but you so hadn’t better stomp on any of the new dirt around de grave, because it bring sickness right along wid you back to your own house. Dat what dey said, anyways.

Jest soon as de grave filled up, dey built a little shelter over it wid poles like a pig pen and over it over wid elm bark to keep de rain from soaking down in de new dirt.

Den everybody go back tot de house and de family go in and scatter some kind of medicine round de place and build a new fire. Sometimes dey feed everybody before dey all leave for home.

Every time day have a funeral dey always a lot of de people say, “Didnt you hear de “stikini” squealing in de night” I hear dat stikini all the night! De “stikini” is de screech owl, and he suppose to tell when anybody going to die right soon. I hear lots of Creek people say day hear de screech owl close to de house, and sho’ nuff somebody in de family die soon.

AUTHOR: As told by Lucinda Davis, Creek Freedwoman