Journey After Death

When Ojibway die, their bodies are placed in a grave, generally in a sitting position, facing the west. With the body are buried all the articles needed in life for a journey. If a man, his gun, blanket, kettle, fire steel, flint, and moccasins; if a woman, her moccasins, axe, portage collar, blanket, and kettle. The soul is supposed to start immediately after the death of the body, on a deep beaten path, which leads westward; the first object one comes to, in following this path, is the great  Oda-e-min (Heart berry), or strawberry, from which one takes a handful and eats on the way. One travels on tell one reaches a deep, rapid stream of water, over which lies the much dreaded Ko-go-gaup-o-gun, or rolling and sinking bridge; once safely over this as the traveller looks back it assumes the shape of a huge serpent swimming, twisting and untwisting its folds across the stream.

After camping out four nights and traveling each day through a prairie country, the soul arrives in the land of the spirits, where one finds relatives accumulated since humankind was first created; all is rejoicing, singing, dancing; and streams, forests, and prairies, and abounding fruit and game to repletion – in a word, abounding in all that the red man covets in this life and which conduces most to ones happiness. It is that kind of paradise which one only by ones manner of life on this earth, is fitted to enjoy.

History of the Ojibway by William W. Warren