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Wednesday, 12 September 2007
BRAVEHORSES EVENT The Ghost Dance Movement
Mood:  celebratory
Now Playing: Wolf Moon by Type O Negative
BRAVEHORSES WARRIORS 129 The Ghost Dance Movement Spirit Warriors (1870-78)
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket The Ghost Dance refers to a type of messianic movement that arose among the Native Americans of the western Great Basin and later (1898-95) spread to the Plains. It expressed a desperate longing for the restoration of the past; a return to a life free of hunger, epidemic disease, and the bitter warring and divisiveness that accompanied the Native Americans' subjugation by whites. The religion was started by a medicine man named Wavoka (English name of Jack Wilson). He had a vision of a great flood that would come upon the land wiping it clean of all the settlers. Right before the flood the thunderbirds were to come down and bring up those Native Americans that stayed true to the scared path. When the waters receded the buffalo and those Native Americans would then be brought back to the land and things would be as they were. Ghost Dance shirts were made in order to protect the Native Americans from any bullets the white man would use against them. This would be accomplished by performing the Ghost Dance Ceremony which was done by calling on those ancestors in spirit form, to come into the bodies of the dancers making them immortal. Many would paint their shirts with symbols of their personal medicine so that it may come through for them when it was needed. The circles were the power hail for protection along with paintings of the thunderbeings and other types of symbolism. During the battle of Wounded Knee (1890), in which 200 Sioux warriors, women, and children were massacred, many wore "Ghost Shirts" emblazoned with eagle, buffalo, and morning-star decorations. They believed these symbols of powerful spirits would protect them from the soldiers' bullets. The tragedy at Wounded Knee effectively put an end to the Ghost Dance, although some Plains tribes performed it until 1985 or incorporated aspects of the ritual into their culture, as in the ghost-dance hand games of the Pawnee. There have been more recent Ghost Dances. Crow Dog's Ghost Dance of 1973 and the most recent movement that took place in central Montana in August 1998. The Ghost Dance of 1973 was a way to connect with the ancestors of the Native Americans. It was supposed to continue the "hoop" that connected them all, keeping the Native American tradition and culture alive. The dance that Leonard Crow Dog brought back in 1973 lasted 4 days with continuous dancing starting at five in the morning. The dance included the peace pipe, tobacco, and other traditional necessities for ceremonies. Thirty to forty dancers were involved in Crow Dog's Ghost Dance. Some of the dancers had visions that uplifted the people spiritually. Up to this point I have been unsuccessful in gathering a lot of information about the Ghost Dance in Montana in August of this year. If anyone would have information to share, please e-mail me so that I may share it here with others. The following is the story of the "Ghost Dance Movement." Come on a journey with me and we shall travel trough time to learn more about the "Ghost Dance Movement." By the 1880s the U.S. government had managed to confine almost all of the Native Americans on reservations, usually on land so poor that the white man could conceive of no use for it themselves. The rations and supplies that had been guaranteed them by the treaties were of poor quality, if they arrived at all. Graft and corruption were rampant in the Native American Bureau. In an attempt to stem this problem, a move was made to recruit Quakers to take the positions as Native American agents, however not nearly enough Quakers responded to the call for volunteers. This call, however, opened the door to other denominations setting up shop on the reservations. An attempt was made to convert the Indians to Christianity with mixed results. However, by 1890 conditions were so bad on the reservations, nationwide, with starvation conditions existing in many places, that the situation was ripe for a major movement to rise among the Native Americans. This movement found its origin in a Paiute named Wovoka, who announced that he was the messiah come to earth to prepare the Native Americans for their salvation. Representatives from tribes all over the nation came to Nevada to meet with Wovoka and learn to dance the Ghost Dance and to sing Ghost Dance songs. Wovoka Jack Wilson (c.1856-1932) Known as the messiah to his followers, Wovoka was the Paiute mystic whose religious pronouncements spread the Ghost Dance among many tribes across the American West. Wovoka was born in Western Nevada, in what is now Esmeralda County, in about 1856. Little is known about his early life, but at about age fourteen his father died, leaving Wovoka to be raised by the family of David Wilson, a nearby white rancher. Wovoka soon took the name Jack Wilson, by which he was broadly known among both neighboring whites and Native Americans, and worked on Wilson's ranch well into adulthood. He learned to speak English and apparently had a fair amount of contact with Christianity. At around age thirty, Wovoka began to weave together various cultural strains into the Ghost Dance religion. He had a rich tradition of religious mysticism upon which to draw. Around 1870, a northern Paiute named Tävibo had prophesied that while all whites would be swallowed up by the earth, all dead Native Americans would emerge to enjoy a world free of their conquerors. He urged his followers to dance in circles, already a tradition in the Great Basin area, while singing religious songs. Tävibo's movement spread to parts of Nevada, California and Oregon. Whether or not Tävibo was Wovoka's father, as many at the time assumed, in the late 1880's Wovoka began to make similar prophecies. His pronouncements heralded the dawning of a new age, in which whites would vanish, leaving Native Americans to live in a land of material abundance, spiritual renewal and immortal life. Like many millenarian visions, Wovoka's prophecies stressed the link between righteous behavior and imminent salvation. Salvation was not to be passively awaited but welcomed by a regime of ritual dancing and upright moral conduct. Despite the later association of the Ghost Dance with the Wounded Knee Massacre and unrest on the Lakota reservations, Wovoka charged his followers to "not hurt anybody or do harm to anyone. You must not fight. Do right always... Do not refuse to work for the whites and do not make any trouble with them." Wovoka's Letter: THE MESSIAH LETTER When you get home you must make a dance to continue five days. Dance four successive nights, and the last night keep up the dance until the morning of the fifth day, when all must bathe in the river and then disperse to their homes. You must all do in the same way. I, Jack Wilson, love you all, and my heart is full of gladness for the gifts you have brought me. When you get home I shall give you a good cloud [rain?] which will make you feel good. I give you a good spirit and give you all good paint. I want you to come again in three months, some from each tribe there [the Native American Territory]. There will be a good deal of snow this year and some rain. In the fall there will be such a rain as I have never given you before. Grandfather [a universal title of reverence among Indians and here meaning the messiah] says, when your friends die you must not cry. You must not hurt anybody or do harm to anyone. You must not fight. Do right always. It will give you satisfaction in life. This young man has a good father and mother. [Possibly this refers to Casper Edson, the young Arapaho who wrote down this message of Wovoka for the delegation]. Do not tell the white people about this. Jesus is now upon the earth. He appears like a cloud. The dead are still alive again. I do not know when they will be here; maybe this fall or in the spring. When the time comes there will be no more sickness and everyone will be young again. Do not refuse to work for the whites and do not make any trouble with them until you leave them. When the earth shakes [at the coming of the new world] do not be afraid. It will not hurt you. I want you to dance every six weeks. Make a feast at the dance and have food that everybody may eat. Then bathe in the water. That is all. You will receive good words again from me some time. Do not tell lies. [TEXT: James Mooney, The Ghost-dance Religion and the Sioux Outbreak of 1890, 14th Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology, Part 2 (1896).] In early October of 1890, Kicking Bear, a Minneconjou, visited Sitting Bull at Standing Rock. He told him of the visit he and his brother-in-law, Short Bull, had made to Nevada to visit Wovoka. They told him of the great number of other Native Americans who were there as well. They referred to Wovoka as the Christ and told of the Ghost Dance that they had learned and the way that the Christ had flown over them on their horseback ride back to the railroad tracks, teaching them Ghost Dance songs. And they told him of the phophecy that, next spring, when the grass was high, the earth would be covered with new soil, burying all the white men. The new soil would be covered with sweet grass, running water and trees; the great herds of buffalo and wild horses would return. All Native Americans who danced the Ghost Dance would be taken up into the air and suspended there while the new earth was being laid down. Then they would be replaced there, with the ghosts of their ancestors, on the new earth. Only Indians would live there then. This new religion was being taught at all of the Sioux reservations now. Big Foot's band, which consisted mostly of women who had lost their husbands and/or other male relatives in battles with Custer, Miles and Crook, would dance until they collapsed, hoping to guarantee the return of their dead warriors. Sitting Bull greatly doubted that the dead would be brought back to life. He had no personal objections to people dancing the Ghost Dance; however he had heard that the agents were getting nervous about all of the dancing and were calling in the soldiers on some reservations. He did not want the soldiers to return to kill more of his people. Kicking Bear assured him that, if the dancers wore their Ghost Dance shirts, painted with magic symbols, the soldiers bullets would not strike them. Sitting Bull consented to Kicking Bear remaining at Standing Rock and teaching the Ghost Dance. This began a chain of events that lead to his death on December 15. As the number of people involved in the Ghost Dance movement increased, the panic and hysteria of the Indian agents increased with it. Agent McLaughlin had Kicking Bear removed from Standing Rock, but this did not stop the movement there. McLaughlin telegraphed Washington, asking for troops and blaming Sitting Bull as the power behind this "pernicious system of religion." The whites stumbled over each other in their attempts to quell this movement. Panicky messages about Native Americans dancing in the snow, wild and crazy, were sent to Washington. One voice of sanity, the former agent, Valentine McGillycuddy, recommended allowing the dances to continue. "The coming of the troops has frightened the Native Americans. If the Seventh-Day Adventists prepare the ascension robes for the Second Coming of the Savior, the United States Army is not put in motion to prevent them. Why should not the Indians have the same privilege? If the troops remain, trouble is sure to come". Nonetheless, on December 12, the order was received to arrest Sitting Bull. On December 15, 43 Native American police surrounded Sitting Bull's cabin before dawn. Three miles away they were backed up by a squadron of cavalry. When Lieutenant Bull Head entered the cabin, Sitting Bull was asleep. Upon awakening, he agreed to come with the police and asked that his horse be saddled while he dressed. When they left the cabin, a large group of Ghost Dancers, much larger than the police force, had assembled and challenged the police. One dancer, Catch-the-Bear, pulled out a rifle and shot Lieutenant Bull Head in the side. In an attempt to shoot back at his assailant, Bull Head instead accidentally shot Sitting Bull. Then another policeman, Red Tomahawk, shot Sitting Bull in the head. Many Native American policemen died that day before the cavalry arrived to quell the fighting. This event then precipitated the events that were to follow at Wounded Knee. While the Ghost Dance is sometimes seen today as an expression of Native American militancy and the desire to preserve traditional ways, Wovoka's pronouncements ironically bore the heavy mark of popular Christianity. His invocation of a "Supreme Being," immortality, pacifism and explicit mentions of Jesus (often referred to with such phrases as "the messiah who came once to live on earth with the white man but was killed by them") all speak of an infusion of Christian beliefs into Paiute mysticism. The Ghost Dance spread throughout much of the West, especially among the more recently defeated Native Americans of the Great Plains. Local bands would adopt the core of the message to their own circumstances, writing their own songs and dancing their own dances. In 1889 the Lakota sent a delegation to visit Wovoka. This group brought the Ghost Dance back to their reservations, where believers made sacred shirts -- said to be bulletproof -- especially for the Dance. The slaughter of Big Foot's band at Wounded Knee Creek in 1890 was cruel proof that whites were not about to simply vanish, that the millennium was not at hand. Wovoka quickly lost his notoriety and lived as Jack Wilson until sometime in 1932. He left the Ghost Dance as evidence of a growing pan-Indian identity which drew upon elements of both white and Native American traditions. Having just a small amount of Cherokee blood, I find myself drawn to a need to understand these events. Fear of the unknown affects us all whether we admit it or not. What a shame that the white man's "fear of the Ghost Dance", combined with the growing unrest of a starving Native American Nation created the events during this time. Clashes of culture, direspect for those who are different, and a lack of Christian compassion prevailed. My heart cries for the mothers who watched their children die, the braves who fought so bravely to protect their families, all with a profound belief that protection would come from their participation and belief in the "Ghost Dance" and the wearing of "Ghost Shirts". I still feel their longing today....Ghost Dancer From: historical accounts & records
2007-12-05©bravehorseswarriors™129 Education Services at Adjunct Professor LLC Warriors, Places, & Events AP

Posted by adjunctprofessor at 3:50 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 20 September 2007 4:51 AM EDT
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