Ghost Dance

Ghost Dance, central ritual of the messianic religion instituted in the late 19th cent. by a Paiute named Wovoka. 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.1870; later, other Native Americans sent delegates to Wovoka to learn his teachings and ritual. 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.Dak., in 1890. The Sioux, wearing shirts called ghost shirts, believed they would be protected from the soldiers' bullets.

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2015, The Columbia University Press.

Ghost Dance: Selected full-text books and articles

The Ghost-Dance Religion and the Sioux Outbreak of 1890 By James Mooney University of Nebraska Press, 1991
The 1870 Ghost Dance By Thomas Buckley University of Nebraska Press, 2007
From Fort Laramie to Wounded Knee: In the West That Was By Charles W. Allen; Richard E. Jensen University of Nebraska Press, 1997
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 21 "The Ghost Dance at Pine Ridge"
Moon of Popping Trees By Rex Alan Smith University of Nebraska Press, 1981
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 8 "Ghost Dance (The Spreading of the Gospel)"
The Medicine Men: Oglala Sioux Ceremony and Healing By Thomas H. Lewis University of Nebraska Press, 1992
Librarian’s tip: "The Ghost Dance" begins on p. 112
Lakota Belief and Ritual By James R. Walker; Raymond J. DeMallie; Elaine A. Jahner University of Nebraska Press, 1991
Librarian’s tip: Document concerning the ghost dance begins on p. 143
Voices of Wounded Knee By William S. E. Coleman University of Nebraska Press, 2000
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 4 "The Ghost Dance Sweeps Across the Dakotas"
Some Things Are Not Forgotten: A Pawnee Family Remembers By Martha Royce Blaine University of Nebraska Press, 1997
Librarian’s tip: Part One "They Came Before"
Theatre, Society, and the Nation: Staging American Identities By S. E. Wilmer Cambridge University Press, 2002
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 3 "Independence for Whom? American Indians and the Ghost Dance"
The Sixth Grandfather: Black Elk's Teachings Given to John G. Neihardt By Black Elk; John G. Neihardt; Raymond J. DeMallie University of Nebraska Press, 1984
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 8 "The Ghost Dance and Wounded Knee (1889-91)"
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