The fifth season of Paramount Network’s Western series ‘Yellowstone’ begins with a pregnant Monica Long Dutton getting into an accident, which paves the way for the death of her and Kayce Dutton’s second son John, named after the Dutton patriarch John Dutton. After returning home from the hospital, Monica lets Kayce knows that she wants to bury their son in the Yellowstone Dutton Ranch so that she can visit him whenever she wants. In the third episode of the season, Kayce discusses the same with Mo and Chief Thomas Rainwater. Mo lets Kayce know that they should bury a horse along with their son. If you are wondering about the reason behind the same, here’s everything you need to know! SPOILERS AHEAD.
The Reason Behind Mo Telling Kayce to Bury a Horse With His Son
The horses are an integral part of Native American culture. In the third episode of the fifth season, Mo asks Kayce to bury his dead son along with a dead horse for the boy to reach the “other side.” According to the beliefs of Rainwater and Mo’s community, a horse spirit is needed to take the dead boy’s spirit to the ethereal realm or the afterlife. In many Native American traditions, horses are connected to the spiritual world and are seemingly considered the bridge between human beings and the divine. Mo raises the need for a horse so that the dead boy can reach the divine.
According to the Lakota culture, one of the prominent Native American cultures, a horse is referred to as “sun’ka wakan,” which translates to “holy/mysterious dog.” Horses are considered beings sent by the “holy power” to assist human beings, like a dog does, especially with regard to transportation, warfare, etc. Since horses were prominently used as a means of transportation, they became the symbols of “journey/voyage.” As far as Kayce’s dead son is concerned, he is expected to embark on a journey to the holy power with the assistance of a horse spirit.
Horse burials Mo suggests have a long history. As per reports, the Apache tribes used to bury a deceased person’s body with a dead horse in the crevices of hills. According to J. Edward Chamberlin’s book ‘Horse: How the Horse Has Shaped Civilizations,’ Nez Perce, an Indigenous people of the Plateau who are presumed to have also lived in Montana, the prominent setting of ‘Yellowstone,’ used to bury horses with the deceased. As per Chamberlin’s book, Native American groups belonged to Blackfoot Confederacy, a collective community that also reportedly inhabited Montana, used to bury horses with humans as well.
In addition to the Native American tribes, several Indo-European communities and cultures had buried horses as a part of human burial. In ‘Yellowstone,’ the relevance of burying Kayce’s dead son with a dead horse might not be connected to just the Native American traditions. In the second episode of the fifth season, Rip kills John’s horse after it gets injured. Kayce may bury his dead son John along with the dead horse of his father John, seemingly connecting the Dutton patriarch and his grandson. Although John doesn’t get to nurture the grandson who is named after him, his horse may take the dead boy to the latter’s afterlife.