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Death, Burial Practices & Naming Through Dreams

George Agiaq Kappianaq,
If in your dream a deceased person says that they are thirsty, this means that they want someone to be named after them. If their name is carried on, they will continue to be able to drink, to quench their thirst. Still today we follow this practice of naming, giving the name of deceased people who want their name given to newborns. If their name is not given to the child, then the child tends to be sickly. (Page 44)
This chapter consists of three subsections. In “Death,” Ka&&ak and Agiaq explain that, before christianism, the body of the deceased person was laid down on the ground (since one could not dig a grave in the frozen ground) and stones or blocks of ice were placed all around it to protect the body from wild animals. If the dead person had led a good life, their tarniq went up to the joyful place in the sky. If they had led a bad life, their tarniq went underground. Pisuk agrees and believes there was a Heaven before the arrival of christianism, although that Heaven was less “bright” than the Christian Heaven. He also relates a vision illustrating that concept.

In the second part, “Burial Practices,” our elders go into more details about these stone or ice graves. In several cases, objects belonging to the dead person were placed on the grave. One could not take an object from the grave, unless they put something back in exchange. Pisuk tells of how his father once took a shotgun butt from a grave and gave it to him after putting back a cigarette in exchange. Pisuk says he kept the butt and still has it in his possession.

The main topic in the last and longest part of the chapter is naming through dreams, something that had been briefly mentioned in Chapter 1. Dreaming of a dead person saying they are thirsty means that that person’s tarniq wants a newborn to be named after them. It is a sign of love: the tarniq is attached to the dreamer and wants to stay close to them. Once their name is given to a baby, they will feel better. Agiaq and Pisuk both reject the idea of a dead person coming back as a baby. Naming a child after a dead person may lead to occasionally treating the child as that person, but nothing more. The child is not the dead person. On an unrelated topic, Ka&&ak and Pisuk point out that being too religious may be dangerous for you. Pisuk claims that Catholic priests have warned him against being too religious. Ka&&ak explains that the Christian God claims back people that are too religious before they can commit a sin.