Dance Fever

Ghostshirt

Ghostshirt

By 1889 many Indian tribes were in a state of despair from poverty, hunger, and disease. A Paiute shaman named Wovoka (1854?- 1932)hadĀ  a vision in which white people were destroyed, and the earth reborn and returned to Indians. Buffalo and antelope would be plentiful again, and there would be no more hunger and violence. Believers took part in ceremonial cleansing, meditation, and prayer, and endeavored to hasten the new beginning through the Ghost Dance.

Many tribes, but especially the Lakota Sioux, embracedĀ  Wovoka’s vision. The U.S. government feared a new wave of violence because of his predictions about the destruction of whites, and banned the Ghost Dance. The government’s determination to destroy this apocalyptic religion led to the Massacre at Wounded Knee.

Wovoka
Wovoka
Ghost Dance at Pine Ridge Reservation, Frederic Remington

Ghost Dance at Pine Ridge Reservation, Frederic Remington

Burial After Wounded Knee Massacre, courtesy Library of Congress

Burial After Wounded Knee Massacre, courtesy Library of Congress

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