Ghost Dance

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According to the teachings of the Northern Paiute spiritual leader Wovoka renamed Jack Wilson , proper practice of the dance would reunite the living with spirits of the dead, bring the spirits to fight on their behalf, make the white colonists leave, and bring peace, prosperity, and unity to Native American peoples throughout the region.

The basis for the Ghost Dance is the circle dance , a traditional dance done by many Native Americans. The practice swept throughout much of the Western United States , quickly reaching areas of California and Oklahoma. As the Ghost Dance spread from its original source, different tribes synthesized selective aspects of the ritual with their own beliefs. The Ghost Dance was associated with Wovoka's prophecy of an end to white expansion while preaching goals of clean living, an honest life, and cross-cultural cooperation by Indians.

Practice of the Ghost Dance movement was believed to have contributed to Lakota resistance to assimilation under the Dawes Act. The Caddo still practice the Ghost Dance today. The Northern Paiute community at this time was thriving upon a subsistence pattern of fishing, hunting wild game, and foraging for pine nuts and roots such as Cyperus esculentus. Community events centered on the observance of seasonal ceremonies such as harvests or hunting.

In , Hawthorne Wodziwob , a Paiute man, organized a series of community dances to announce a vision. He spoke of a journey to the land of the dead and of promises made to him by the souls of the recently deceased. They promised to return to their loved ones within a period of three to four years. Wodziwob's peers accepted this vision, likely due to his reputable status as a healer.

Encyclopedia of the Great Plains | GHOST DANCE

He urged the populace to dance the common circle dance as was customary during a time of celebration. He continued preaching this message for three years with the help of a local "weather doctor" named Tavibo, father of Jack Wilson. Prior to Wodziwob's religious movement, a devastating typhoid fever epidemic struck in This and other European diseases killed approximately one-tenth of the total population, [6] resulting in widespread psychological and emotional trauma.

The disruption brought disorder to the economic system and society.

James Mooney’s Ghost Dance Recordings (1894)

Many families were prevented from continuing their nomadic lifestyle. A round dance is a circular community dance held, usually around an individual who leads the ceremony. Round dances may be ceremonial or purely social. Usually the dancers are accompanied by a group of singers who may also play hand drums in unison. The dancers join hands to form a large circle.

The dancers move to their left or right, depending on nation or territory with a side-shuffle step to reflect the long-short pattern of the drum beat , bending their knees to emphasize the pattern. During his studies of the Pacific Northwest tribes the anthropologist Leslie Spier used the term " prophet dances " to describe ceremonial round dances where the participants seek trance , exhortations and prophecy.

The Sioux Ghost Dance terrified white troops

Spier studied peoples of the Columbia plateau a region including Washington , Oregon , Idaho , and parts of western Montana. By the time of his studies the only dances he was allowed to witness were social dances or ones that had already incorporated Christian elements, making investigation of the round dance's origin complicated.

Jack Wilson, the "prophet" otherwise known as Wovoka , was believed to have had a vision during a solar eclipse on January 1, It was reportedly not his first time experiencing a vision; but as a young adult, he claimed that he was then better equipped, spiritually, to handle this message.

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Jack had received training from an experienced holy man under his parents' guidance after they realized that he was having difficulty interpreting his previous visions. Jack was also training to be a "weather doctor", following in his father's footsteps. He was known throughout Mason Valley as a gifted and blessed young leader.

Preaching a message of universal love, he often presided over circle dances, which symbolized the sun's heavenly path across the sky. Anthropologist James Mooney conducted an interview with Wilson prior to Mooney confirmed that his message matched that given to his fellow Indians. According to Mooney, Wilson's letter said he stood before God in heaven and had seen many of his ancestors engaged in their favorite pastimes, and that God showed Wilson a beautiful land filled with wild game and instructed him to return home to tell his people that they must love each other and not fight.

He also stated that Jesus was being reincarnated on earth in , that the people must work, not steal or lie, and that they must not engage in the old practices of war or the traditional self-mutilation practices connected with mourning the dead. He said that if his people abided by these rules, they would be united with their friends and family in the other world, and in God's presence, there would be no sickness, disease, or old age. Mooney writes that Wilson was given the Ghost Dance and commanded to take it back to his people.

He preached that if the five-day dance was performed in the proper intervals, the performers would secure their happiness and hasten the reunion of the living and deceased. Wilson said that the Creator gave him powers over the weather and that he would be the deputy in charge of affairs in the western United States, leaving current President Harrison as God's deputy in the East.

Jack claims that he was then told to return home and preach God's message.

Ghost Dance - Malware (feat. Modulhater)

Jack Wilson claimed to have left the presence of God convinced that if every Indian in the West danced the new dance to "hasten the event", all evil in the world would be swept away, leaving a renewed Earth filled with food, love, and faith. Because the first European contact with the practice came by way of the Lakota, their expression "Spirit Dance" was adopted as a descriptive title for all such practices. This was subsequently translated as "Ghost Dance". Through Indians and some white settlers, Wilson's message spread across much of the western portion of the United States.

Early in the religious movement, many tribes sent members to investigate the self-proclaimed prophet, while other communities sent delegates only to be cordial. Most important to Oklahoma's rich American Indian heritage was the stimulus this late-nineteenth-century religious movement provided to revive old traditions and to compose new music. This occurred at the very time when the disruptive move to reservation life could have caused the stultification of American Indian religion and culture and the demise of Native music.

Donald N. Gloria A.

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Raymond J. DeMallie Washington, D. Copyright to all of these materials is protected under United States and International law. Users agree not to download, copy, modify, sell, lease, rent, reprint, or otherwise distribute these materials, or to link to these materials on another web site, without authorization of the Oklahoma Historical Society.

  • James Mooney’s Ghost Dance Recordings (1894).
  • Native American History: Ghost Dance.
  • Ghost Dance | The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture.
  • In Defense of Things: Archaeology and the Ontology of Objects (Archaeology in Society);
  • Ghost Dance.
  • Apocalypse: An Introduction to Revelation.

Individual users must determine if their use of the Materials falls under United States copyright law's "Fair Use" guidelines and does not infringe on the proprietary rights of the Oklahoma Historical Society as the legal copyright holder of The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and part or in whole. Although violence and rebellion against white Americans was never a part of the Ghost Dance, many Lakota a once proud warrior society were willing to die to protect it. By the late s, countless Lakota traditions had already been banned by the government. It seemed they had few alternatives left other than to use force against their oppressors - from reservation police, government agents, and the military, to white settlers - in defense of their culture and the few traditions they had left.


The Ghost Dance was a new religious movement incorporated into numerous Native American belief systems. According to the teachings of the Northern Paiute. Ghost Dance, either of two distinct cults in a complex of late 19th-century religious movements that represented an attempt of Indians in the western United .