By Mark Thiessen
Associated Press 

Researchers uncover fate of thousands of Alaskans sent to Oregon mental hospital


April 10, 2024

Wally Carlo via AP

In this Sept. 29, 2023, photo, Brian Cruger holds the cross made for the grave of his great-grandmother, Lucy Pitka McCormick. With him is McCormick's granddaughter, Kathleen Carlo, during a reburial ceremony in the Alaska Interior community of Rampart.

Lucy Pitka McCormick's relatives cooked salmon, moose, beaver and muskrat over an earthen firepit on the banks of the Chena River, just outside Fairbanks, as they honored her life. They whipped whitefish, blueberries and lard into a traditional Alaska Native dessert, and dolloped servings onto a paper plate, setting it in the flames to feed her spirit.

The family prayed as McCormick's great-grandson built a small plywood coffin that was filled with gifts and necessities for the next world, such as her granddaughter's artwork and a hairbrush.

The weeklong Koyukon Athabascan burial ceremony last...

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