• Notes From The Frontier

Last Prayer for the Old Ways—The Sacred Ghost Dance



The Native American Ghost Dance movement swept across reservations in 1889 and 1890 as a last gasp, a final, desperate prayer for the old ways to return, for whites to disappear, for the buffalo to again roam the Plains, for the many lost Native children and elders, women and men killed, to again join their people.


The late 1880s were a desperate time for Native Americans across North America. Nearly all tribes had now been imprisoned on reservations, many elders of the sacred old ways were dying, and the little children were robbed from Native families and sent to white boarding schools.


The Ghost Dance rose from the ashes of native cultures and spread quickly from reservation to reservation. The Dance was celebrated by wearing the most beautiful shirts that native artisans could conjure, using their spiritual symbols and animal and plant materials to beckon the spirits for help.


View this wonderful video from the Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody, Wyoming, just an hour from Yellowstone National Park. The video explains so poignantly the hopes of the Ghost Dance and what it symbolized for native tribes.

Then, see tomorrow’s post:


The Stunning Artistry of Ghost Dance Shirts.


View stunning examples of ghost shirts and read about the Ghost Dance shirt from the Wounded Knee Massacre of 1890, how it traveled to Europe and was finally returned to the Lakota more than a century later.



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  • Notes From the Frontier