Ghost Dance: The U.S. and Illusions of Power in the 21st Century
By Bülent Gökay and Darrell Whitman
In early October 1890, representatives of the Native American nation gathered in the dust of Walker Lake, Nevada. They had come to hear the words of Wovoka, a Paiute ‘messiah’ who claimed that in a vision Native Americans had been given a victory over their tormentors, the white-skinned European masters. In the four hundred years that followed the European invasion if the Americas, more than 90% of their number had been lost to exotic diseases and the technological superior weaponry. The scattered remnants of their once proud tribes were mostly locked into the despair of a wasteland of reservations, cut off from the freedom of their former life. The great wheel of history was closing the American frontier at the end of the nineteenth history and thereby extinguishing steadily erasing the memory of their traditional life. Wovoka’s message that warm Fall day had a universal appeal that cut across tribal differences to reach their collective identity: the Christ had returned and would renew everything as it used to be, but only if they danced with the ghosts of their ancestors.
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