Ghost Dance

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Born in Western Nevada in about , he was orphaned at age A nearby white rancher took him in and raised him under the name Jack Wilson. Wovoka studied Christian religious doctrine and tribal mysticism, respectively.

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In fact, Wovoka often invoked Jesus by name. His peaceful prophecy became a movement, a religion in itself. Dozens of tribes across the West adopted the Ghost Dance and its teachings. That is, until Wounded Knee. In , the government broke a Lakota treaty by parceling their land into five smaller reservations across Pine Ridge, South Dakota. The maneuver would accommodate new white settlers and divide powerful tribal relationships.

It cut rations by half. Faced with poverty and starvation, Sioux tribes turned to the Ghost Dance in the fall of Some scholars believe the the idea came from Mormon temple garments, thought to protect wearers from evil. Some others sat watching. Five medicine men waved sticks painted like snakes. Dancers held hands and moved slowly around the tree, shuffling, eyes closed and heads bent to ground. Some cried out in trance. Others fainted from weariness. Two days later the Sioux were still dancing. Troops became even more nervous and watchful. Most accounts tell of an exhausted group of Sioux dancing through their desperation.

Tension heightened day after day. It was a paralyzing standoff — one side danced while the other tapped his trigger. Then on Dec. He refused.

They arrested him. Amidst the struggle, shots were fired on both sides. The gunfire continued for hours as the military pursued the Lakotas. This occurrence became known as the Wounded Knee Massacre. In the attempt to gather all bodies, some were found even three miles away from the reservation. While the military lost only twenty-five men, it was celebrated among the white people as a success. The Medal of Honor was presented to twenty individuals for their acts during the massacre at Wounded Knee, as their actions was seen as being extremely heroic. The Wounded Knee Massacre was the final blow to the Indians as this ended the four hundred year conflict between the whites and the natives.

This massacre resulted in the Ghost Dance ceremonies dying out among the Lakotas, but elsewhere in the plain, the acts continued. The ceremonial Ghost Dance holds a rich cultural importance to all of those who were a part of it. It shows the practice as being completely connected with ones spirituality, in that it reunites members to those who have passed.

It highlights how important culture is to native Indians by the acts of dancing, singing songs, and the clothing they put on their bodies. The true purpose of these Ghost Dances was to inspire hope, and it continues to do so in that it shows that even today this Indian culture should not die out as time progresses. This was a great read thank you. My grandfather is Native American and I love hearing stories and reading about their history.

This was a great article on the wounded knee massacre and indians. It is horrific to see how the easily different cultures and misunderstandings can turn into disasters. The indians were just trying to keep their traditions and culture alive.

Wounded Knee Massacre & The Ghost Dance (article) | Khan Academy

Nice article. Wavoka and his father seemed to be quite influential leaders in the native american tribes of the second half of the nineteenth century. Their message that one day the whites would disappear and buffalo would be plentiful again was such a message of hope.

Ghost Dance (1983) - Ken McMullen

It is no wonder that they both had so many followers. However, in the end they lost their lives and their land which just so sad because all they wanted to do was go back to the way things were. It is horrific to see how the easily different cultures and misunderstandings can turn disastrous. The author did a good job portraying the events, actions, and miscommunications that led to this tragedy.

While I cannot see a main character protagonist in the story, since Wovoka did not remain in the rest of the story, I think the protagonist in this story is simply those who practice the Ghost Dance. This unifies all the Native American tribes discussed in the story under one banner that many can root for in this day and age of understanding and ethnical equality. It is frightening and revolting that American men were awarded medals for this massacre, even more when Americans have been killing off the Native American population.

I like that this article explains the reason that America felt threatened because it gives insight on to how cruel the result of the Ghost Dance was.


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According to the teachings of Wovoka, the Ghost Dance ceremony would reunite the spirits of the dead with those of the living, and the power of these spirits could be harnessed in battle with white settlers and the US Army. You can make it easier for us to review and, hopefully, publish your contribution by keeping a few points in mind. Your contribution may be further edited by our staff, and its publication is subject to our final approval. Unfortunately, our editorial approach may not be able to accommodate all contributions.

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These ends, it was believed, would be hastened…. In this area arose the Ghost Dance , a religious movement whose rituals included a hypnotic circle dance that spread to the Great Plains in the 19th century. The ceremonies are frequently addressed to the spirits of the dead. There are also many two-line dances, especially among the Ute and southern…. Wovoka, American Indian religious leader who spawned the second messianic Ghost Dance cult, which spread rapidly through reservation communities about American Indian, member of any of the aboriginal peoples of the Western Hemisphere.

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By , the Plains Indians had lost the struggle to defend their territory and way of life against the expansionist United States. History at your fingertips. Sign up here to see what happened On This Day , every day in your inbox!