Pine Ridge Reservation, 1890: Ghost Dance

Ghost Dance


220px Wovoka Paiute Shaman


This generation of Sioux are seeing the end of life as their ancestors knew it!  The buffalo and antelope herds are gone. The life of roaming and hunting is as dead as the thousands of warriors buried beneath the white man’s railroads and mines and corn fields.  In the midst of this ending rises a new beginning—a religious ferment called the ghost dance.  A Paiute named Wovoka claims to be the Messiah.  He prophesies that by next spring all the whites will be gone and in their place new sweet grass will sprout and all the natives who have ever lived will return to life.  The people grasp at this hope and begin to dance the ghost dance in larger and larger numbers. The whites are afraid and they call out the army for protection. The army decides that Sitting Bull is behind this ghost dance phenomenon, even though he is not. They send forty-three Indian policemen to arrest him. In the ensuing melee Sitting Bull is shot.


-Bill Zimmerman, Airlift to Wounded Knee, 46-47


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