Contrary to the usual view that the famous 'beaded burial" exemplified elite social status in early Cahokian society, this paper argues that it and all of the burials following the initial series of internments are not 'status defining' in the usual sense. An argument is presented to show how the dead were chosen to enact public ceremony with a collective, community-wide purpose. This purpose is encoded in teh arrangement of burials, treatment of the dead and the kind and placements of artifacts. Individually these burials include the recent dead, the old dead formed of disarticulated remains, and the sacrificial dead. The dead can be thought of as re-enacting a cosmic narrative in which the 'beaded burial' is the central hero/savior of the narrative. This iconically driven use of the dead contrasts with another contemporary treatment of teh adult dead in which bundles were created from bones stored in charnel houses.
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