Information and quotes provided here are from Healing Secrets of the Native Americans by Porter Shimer.

When Native American warriors prepared for battle, they dressed in their finest clothes and best headdress. They did this to prepare themselves in case they died. They wanted to be ready for their funeral. Rather than fearing death, they welcomed it.

While early Native Americans did not believe in heaven in the Christian sense, they did believe in an afterlife. They believed they were immortal and would go to a spirit world where they could interact with animal spirits, plant spirits, and earth spirits as well as human spirits. They were glad to leave their bodies behind because they believed they would be reborn onto earth in a future time. It was all part of a continuous cycle of life. Death was the end of the present physical life, a gateway to the spirit world, and eventually the way to rebirth on earth.

Native Americans buried their dead with their prized possessions because they wanted them to enjoy the spirit life. The spirit world was viewed as similar to our physical life, but mostly as a non-physical world in another dimension; one that is pleasant to inhabit.

To Native Americans, death was not an ending, but a gateway to the next world. Dying was as natural as being born and the two activities were interrelated; like two sides of the same coin. The author quotes Robert Blackwolf Jones: Everyone should yield to death and die gracefully, he says, because in some ways it is the most noble thing we’ll ever do.