2nd January 1834

[Anchorage and Spanish Ruins, Port Desire]
Port Desire
A party of officers accompanied me to ransack the Indian grave in hopes of finding some antiquarian remains. The grave consisted of a heap of large stones placed with some care, it was on the summit of the hill, & at the foot of a ledge of rock about 6 feet high. In front of this & about 3 yards from it they had placed two immense fragments, each weighing at least two tuns, & resting on each other. These in all probability were originally in nearly the same position & only just moved by the Indians to answer their purpose. At the bottom of the grave on the hard rock, there was a layer of earth about a foot deep; this must have been brought from the plain below; the vegetable fibres, from the lodgement of water, were converted into a sort of Peat. Above this a pavement of flat stones, & then a large heap of rude stones, piled up so as to fill up the interval between the ledge & the two large stones. To complete the grave, the Indians had contrived to detach from the ledge an immense block (probably there was a crack) & throw it over the pile so as to rest on the two other great fragments. We undermined the grave on both sides under the last block; but there were no bones. I can only account for it, by giving great antiquity to the grave & supposing water & changes in climate had utterly decomposed every fragment. We found on the neighbouring heights 3 other & much smaller heaps of stones. They had all been displaced; perhaps by sealers or other Voyagers. It is said, that where an Indian dies, he is buried; but that subsequently his bones are taken up & carried to such situations as have been mentioned. I think this custom can easily be accounted for by recollecting, that before the importation of horses, these Indians must have led nearly the same life as the Fuegians, & therefore in the neighbourhood of the sea. The common prejudice of lying where your ancestors have lain, would make the now roaming Indians bring the less perishable part of their dead to the ancient burial grounds.

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