Ghost Dance

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Wodziwob's assistant, a shaman named Tavibo, spread the new doctrine among Nevada tribes. The original Ghost Dance fervor among far western American tribes gradually ebbed only to be rekindled in by Wovoka, Tavibo's son. The new prophet, also known as Jack Wilson, was said to practice miracles such as curing the sick, controlling the weather, and withstanding bullets shot at him. Wovoka claimed that while feverishly ill he saw in a vision all deceased Indians surrounding the throne of "the Great Spirit" God who told him to teach his people to love one another and to live peacefully with white people.

Further, all deceased Indians would return to the earth and recover their ancestral lands. According to the vision, white men and women would retreat to their European homelands. The prophet taught his followers a five-day ritual of song and circle dances that would hasten the coming of this new millennium; hence, the Ghost Dance was born. Wovoka's Paiute tribesmen became missionaries of this new messianic faith. It attracted many impoverished and unhappy western tribes who had been herded by the United States military onto reservations, including the Arapaho, Bannock, Caddo, Cheyenne, Comanche, Kiowa, Sioux, Shoshones, and Utes.

Each tribe adopted its own Ghost Dance songs and wore clothing painted with sacred symbols believed designed to ward off bullets. The Ghost Dance movement came to a tragic end on Sioux reservations in South Dakota during the winter of — Sitting Bull , the famous Hunkpapa Sioux warrior chief, had become an enthusiastic follower of the new faith, along with his people on the Standing Rock Reservation in South Dakota.

Their new religious fervor alarmed white United States government agents on the reservation who decided to arrest the chief as a means of restoring peace to the reservation. On December 15 Sitting Bull was shot and killed during a skirmish when Native American agency police tried to arrest him. But on December 29, when American cavalry caught up with Big Foot's group encamped along Wounded Knee Creek and tried to disarm them, rifle shots on both sides broke out.

The American military, armed with four Hotchkiss machine guns, massacred the Sioux warriors and their unarmed women and children.

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The massacre marked the ending of the Indian wars in the American West. The Last Days of the Plains Indian. Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee. Henry Holt , James Mooney's Illustrations and Photographs, — Cite this article Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography. Retrieved September 18, from Encyclopedia. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list. Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.

The name Ghost Dance applies to two waves of a nativistic or messianic movement. Both originated among the Paiute Indians of Nevada in the nineteenth century. In a prophet named Wodziwob began to predict supernatural events, claiming that the worn-out world would end, thus eliminating white men, and that all dead Indians would then return to the renewed world. Wodziwob professed to be in communication with the dead, and he instructed his followers to dance a circle dance and sing certain divinely revealed songs. The movement spread to the Indians of southern Oregon and northern California, but it gradually subsided when the promised super-natural events did not occur.

In there was a resurgence of the Ghost Dance, this time led by another Paiute messiah named Wovoka, or Jack Wilson. Wovoka claimed to have visited the spirit world while in a trance and to have seen God, who directed him to return to announce to the Indians that they should love one another and live peacefully, returning to the old Indian ways. By dancing and singing certain songs, they would hasten the end of the world and the disappearance of the whites. In the aftermath of this event, Indians would be restored to their hunting grounds and reunite with departed friends.

The revitalized Ghost Dance gained its principal strength among the tribes east of the Rockies.

The movement spread rapidly to some Plains tribes, including the Lakota Sioux , Cheyenne, Arapaho, and Comanche, who had recently been confined to reservations and were in the process of having their lands allotted. Enthusiasm for the dance, which included the wearing of "ghost shirts" that were supposedly impervious to bullets, led government officials to interpret the movement as a prelude to a militant revolt. Tensions mounted in late after Sitting Bull , a leader of the Ghost Dance at Standing Rock Reservation, was killed by Indian police attempting to arrest him.

Despite the tragedy, the Ghost Dance did not completely disappear after Wounded Knee. Although officially banned, Wovoka's original pacific doctrine continued to be practiced on the Pine Ridge Sioux Reservation into the early s, and Ghost Dance congregations continued to function on Dakota reserves in Saskatchewan until the s. Elements of the Ghost Dance were also incorporated into the revitalization of traditional cultural practices such as the Pawnee hand game and Kiowa war dance.

Wovoka himself continued in his roles as shaman and healer at Walker River Reservation in Nevada until his death in Wovoka and the Ghost Dance. Edited by Don Lynch. University of Nebraska Press, See also Paiute ; Wounded Knee Massacre ; and vol. A Letter from Wovoka. The most famous millennial movement among the N. American Indians, amongst the destitute tribes of the Great Basin and the Plains in — The founder was Wovoka c. After a mystic experience of visiting heaven , he proclaimed the peaceful coming of a paradisal age in which the depleted buffalo and the ancestors i.

Ghost Dance

Its coming would be hastened by moral reform and the newly revealed round dance which, after several days of dancing, led to meeting the ancestors in a visionary trance. The movement among the Sioux was regarded by many whites as more militant; this culminated in the massacre of some at Wounded Knee in Dec. Ghost Dance, central ritual of the messianic religion instituted in the late 19th cent. The religion prophesied the peaceful end of the westward expansion of whites and a return of the land to the Native Americans. The ritual lasted five successive days, being danced each night and on the last night continued until morning.

Hypnotic trances and shaking accompanied this ceremony, which was supposed to be repeated every six weeks. The dance originated among the Paiute c. In a remarkably short time the religion spread to most of the Western Native Americans. The ghost dance is chiefly significant because it was a central feature among the Sioux just prior to the massacre of hundreds of Sioux at Wounded Knee , S.

The Sioux, wearing shirts called ghost shirts, believed they would be protected from the soldiers' bullets. Dating from about , it had its culmination in the — "messiah craze" of the Plains, which caused the last Indian war in the Dakotas. The name Ghost Dance refers to the ritual round-dances that were thought to imitate the dances of the dead and were performed to precipitate the renewal of the world and the return of the dead.

There were other American Indian ceremonial dances that were called ghost dances — for instance, a ritual dance among the Iroquois. However, it was the messianic Ghost Dance of that attracted general attention because of its message and consequences. It has been considered prototypical of other revivalist movements among North American Indians, so much so that most later movements have been classified as "ghost dances" La Barre, Strictly speaking, there have been two Ghost Dances, closely connected with each other and almost identical in form and cultic performance.

During a trance he was conveyed to the otherworld, where he learned that the dead were soon to return, that the disappearing game animals were to be restored, and that the old tribal life would come back again. In order to hasten this change, people had to perform round dances at night, without fires. This Ghost Dance lasted some few years among the Paiute, several middle and northern California tribes, and some Oregon Indians.

He had a son, Wovoka "the cutter," — Wovoka lived in Mason Valley, Nevada, where he served as a farmhand to a white family named Wilson, and because of this association he went under the name of Jack Wilson. During an eclipse of the sun, probably in January , he fell into a trance and was transported to the supreme being in the sky. In this vision the supreme being showed him the land of the dead and the happy life there, and promised that the living would have a reunion with the deceased, providing a series of rules were followed. At this point the information divides. To the whites, Wovoka said that the reunion would take place in the otherworld if people behaved correctly i.

Wovoka also discouraged the practice of mourning — the dead would soon be resurrected — demanding instead the performance of prayers, meditation, chanting, and especially dancing. In his thirties, Wovoka began to piece together a religion from diverse cultural and religious doctrines into what would be called the Ghost Dance religion of His first source, tribal mysticism, drew upon the Northern Paiute Wodziwob who had prophesied in He urged his followers to dance in circles, already a tradition in the Great Basin area, while singing religious songs. Wovoka's second source, his Christian education, added the concept of a supreme being, and validation for the resurrection of natives.

Drawing on the Bible, Wovoka incorporated the story of Jesus, the messiah who had come to live on earth to spread the message of peace and love to the white man, and the resurrection of believers. God gave Wovoka a dance that was to be performed for five consecutive days.

His message of a new golden age was received with enthusiasm, and it spread quickly among the Great Basin and Great Plains tribes. Many tribes sent delegates to visit Wovoka, hear his message, and receive instructions for the dance. Throughout the year , the Ghost Dance was performed, stimulating anticipation of a return of the old ways.

That turn of events was all the more remarkable for three reasons:.

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Instead, members of other nations came to Nevada to learn from him. The movement preached unity among tribes — even those that were once enemies — and a revival of Indian customs that were threatened by the civilization of European peoples. They also spoke openly about why they were dancing. The Ghost Dance, they claimed, brought about renewal of native society and decline in the influence of the whites. The dance and ceremonial garments. The most important practice to ensure the effectiveness of the movement was the dance itself.

Ghost Dance | North American Indian cult |

It was unlike other Indian dances with fast steps and loud drumming. Participants joined hands and sidestepped leftward around a circle, following the course of the sun, while singing special songs about how Native American life would be restored to its former order and balance in a dance. It would be performed for four or five days and was accompanied by singing and chanting, but no drumming or other musical instruments.

In addition, both men and women participated in the dance, unlike others in which men were the main dancers, singers, and musicians. Wovoka claimed that performing the dance would result in the return of the buffalo. The ritual garments were just as important as the movement itself. The Ghost Dance dresses and shirts, painted with magic symbols, reflected the spiritual aspects of the ceremony.

Wovoka told those that had come to learn from him,. He also told the dancers when the earth shook at the coming of the new world; they were not to be afraid because they would not be hurt.

Ghost Dance (band)

Wovoka stopped teaching the Ghost Dance between and , owing to the sorrow he felt by the misinterpretation of his vision by other Indians, particularly the Lakota. The most enthusiastic supporters of the new movement were the Lakota.

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Its spread to Lakota reservations coincided with a period of intense suffering there. Unlike Wovoka's anti-violence, the Ghost Dance took on a militaristic aspect and emphasized the possible elimination of the whites. In its Lakota version, after opening invocations, prayers, and exhortations, the dancers joined hands and began a frenetic circle dance. Many who were sick participated in the hope of being cured, and many fell down, sometimes unconscious, sometimes in a trance, as the dance progressed.

Eventually the dancing stopped and the participants sat in a circle, relating their experiences and visions. The dance might be repeated.

Ghost Dance

They claimed that the Lakota had developed a militaristic approach to the dance, and began making "ghost shirts" they believed would protect them from bullets. He told him of the visit he had made to Nevada to visit Wovoka, and of the great number of other Indians who were there as well. Sitting Bull greatly doubted that the dead would be brought back to life. He had no personal objections to people dancing the Ghost Dance.

He had heard, however, that his allowing the movement alarmed the military and Indian agencies, and they were calling in soldiers on some reservations. He did not want the soldiers to return to kill more of his people. The agent, who thought it was a preparation for further hostilities, telegraphed Washington, asked for troops, and blamed Sitting Bull. Messages about Indians dancing in the snow were sent to Washington.

By , nearly 3, members of the Seventh Cavalry arrived to protect the settlers. In mid-November, an army detachment arrived at the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota to suppress the armed uprising they feared was coming. A sizable detachment of military troops was dispatched to prepare for any possible uprising. The Ghost Dance instilled fear in white settlers, especially in areas where the Lakota, whose strain of the religion was especially militant, performed it. On December 28, 14 days after the brutal shooting of Sitting Bull, the U.

Army sought to disarm and relocate the Lakota people, who failed to stop their Ghost Dance. Big Foot's band, which consisted mostly of women who had lost their husbands and other male relatives in battles with Custer, Miles and Crook, had danced until they collapsed, hoping to guarantee the return of their dead warriors.

Big Foot and about Lakota marched to Pine Ridge Reservation to seek protection from the military. At Pine Ridge they surrendered on December 28, , and were escorted to Wounded Knee by the military, where they established a camp at Wounded Knee Creek. The following morning, December 29, , the military ordered all Indian weapons to be relinquished and burned. A medicine man advocated armed resistance telling the other Indians that their Ghost Dance shirts were bulletproof.

A shot was fired by an unidentified gunman. On the frozen plains at Wounded Knee on the Pine Ridge Reservation, government troops opened fire on the mostly unarmed Lakota people, and massacred Sioux men, women and children, including many trying to flee, in a matter of minutes. Thirty-three soldiers died, most from friendly fire, 20 Medals of Honor were presented to surviving soldiers.