A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America
Basedow thinks it's possible that one or more of the cabin's inhabitants kept the raccoon as a pet. If so, it would be similar to goldfish remains future archaeologists will undoubtedly encounter in the yards of suburban American homes. But she thinks the location of the burial, next to the main entrance of the cabin, probably means the raccoon was more than just a cuddly companion. Available evidence suggests the animal played a role in a ritual with elements borrowed from vastly different cultures.
Basedow notes that in some Native American cultures raccoons are considered sacred because they exhibit humanlike traits, like washing their food. She also notes that in Europe there is a strong tradition of burying animals at the entrances of houses to ward off evil. In West Africa, some cultures bury pots or cache other objects at entrances.
"So you've got an animal that holds special significance for Native Americans being buried in a European ritual manner by West Africans," says Basedow. She thinks it's likely the slaves buried the raccoon by the door to protect the cabin from evil--part of a creolized ritual security system.