Spirit Dance - Ghost Dance
By 1889 it was clear to most Americans that the huge land out West once seemingly everlasting were closing in. In the few years remaining before all their land was taken some native Americans would try to dream, dance & pray their way back to the old life. But even that would prove too threatening to the many settlers & Ranchers living on Indian land. In the last days of December 1890 400 years of hatred, bloodshed and incompatible dreams would come to a terrible tragedy in South Dakota, at a place called Wounded Knee.
"Suddenly there was a fear that all these leaders that had fought these wars were still here. Sitting Bull was still here, Red Cloud...many of these people that had fought at the Little Big Horn, had been around the Powder River were still here. Who knows what they would do?" CHARLOTTE BLACK ELK.
After years of lies from government officials in Washington, the Indians living at the reservations in Dakota were of dying of disease & hunger. Its was in the summer of 1889 that Kicking Bear a warrior & friend of Crazy Horse came to the reservations with a new religion The Ghost Dance from a holy man named Wovoka living in Western Nevada. Wovoka had a vision God told him that he would rescue all the Indian people from their misery. An Indian messiah was advancing from the West. If the Indian people avoided violence , if they were honest & peaceful and if they danced the sacred dance- The Ghost Dance - they would create a new world. Then all the whites would disappear from their lands, all the dead ancestors would come back to life & the buffalo would return.
The Ghost dance religion spread fast through the most of the reservations in Dakota / Montana. At Pine Ridge reservation The Lakota dances began far away from the agents, the people came in the hundreds and prayed & danced all day. Dancing around a scared tree from the Sundance, following the sun through the day, some of the dancers wore sacred garments called Ghost Shirts which Kicking Bear assured them bullets would not hurt people who wear the shirt. Joining hands the dancers shuffled in great circles dancing for hours non stop, Exhaustion brought with it visions of reunion with loved ones & their return. The People are coming home.