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Wovoka (Paiute): Song of the Ghost Dance

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Wovoka (Paiute): Song of the Ghost Dance
 
 
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Photo: Wovoka – Paiute spiritual leader and creator of the Ghost Dance. The Ghost Dance (Caddo: Nanissáanah, also called the Ghost Dance of 1890) was a religious movement incorporated into numerous American Indian belief systems. According to the teachings of the Northern Paiute spiritual leader Wovoka (renamed Jack Wilson), proper practice of the dance would reunite the living with spirits of the dead, bring the spirits of the dead to fight on their behalf, make the white colonists leave, and bring peace, prosperity, and unity to Indian peoples throughout the region. The basis for the Ghost Dance, the circle dance, is a traditional form that has been used by many Indian peoples since prehistoric times, but this new ceremony was first practiced among the Nevada Paiute in 1889. The practice swept throughout much of the Western United States, quickly reaching areas of California and Oklahoma. As the Ghost Dance spread from its original source, Indian tribes synthesized selective aspects of the ritual with their own beliefs. The Ghost Dance was associated with Wilson's (Wovoka's) prophecy of an end to white expansion while preaching goals of clean living, an honest life, and cross-cultural cooperation by Indians. Practice of the Ghost Dance movement was believed to have contributed to Lakota resistance to assimilation under the Dawes Act. In the Wounded Knee Massacre in 1890, U.S. Army forces killed at least 153 Miniconjou and Hunkpapa from the Lakota people. The Lakota variation on the Ghost Dance tended towards millenarianism, an innovation that distinguished the Lakota interpretation from Jack Wilson's original teachings. The Caddo Nation still practices the Ghost Dance today.
 

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The wind stirs the willows
The wind stirs the willows
The wind stirs the grasses
The wind stirs the grasses

Fog! Fog!
Lightning! Lightning! Whirlwind! Whirlwind!
The whirlwind! The whirlwind!

The snowy earth comes gliding
The snowy earth comes gliding.

There is dust from the whirlwind.
There is dust from the whirlwind.
The whirlwind on the mountain,
The whirlwind on the mountain.
The rocks are ringing,
The rocks are ringing.
They are ringing in the mountains,
They are ringing in the mountains.


(Paiute, Song of the Ghost Dance)
 

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Source and Recommended Reading:

'American Indian poetry; an anthology of songs and chants'
By George W. Cronyn (Author)

Purchase Book:

Amazon.com
Amazon.co.uk

Description:

First published in 1918, American Indian Poetry is a pioneer work of remarkable authenticity. Filled with pieces collected from Native Americans in their own languages and translated by leading scholars and poets of the day, it was the first book to give their oral verse its palce as an essential, vibrant part of North American literature. These songs and chants, ancient and modern, speak to the power and poignancy of ordinary life and to the deeply mystical. These are cries from a people at one with both spirit and earth, for all the world to hear and includes works from the major tribes from the Southeast to the Northwest Coast.

 

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