Thursday, May 4, 2017

The Native American Ghost Dance movement

Host Mitch Jeserich, Louis S. Warren (Letters and Politics, Berkeley KPFA/L.A. KPFK 90.7 FM, 10:00-11:00 AM, May 3, 2017); Xochitl, Ashley Wells, Dhr. Seven (eds.), Wisdom Quarterly

Pan-Native American Ghost Dance Movement
Shaman Wavoka (J. Wilson)
KPFA Host Mitch Jeserich (“Letters and Politics”) speaks with about his book God’s Red Son: The Ghost Dance Religion and the Making of Modern America, which describes the pan-Indian Ghost Dance (Nanissáanah) religious movement led by the Paiute American prophet Wavoka or Jack Wilson that swept across the west and the great plain as a form of resistance and reconciliation or accommodation to colonialism. This book is critical to understanding how… More
God's Red Son: The Ghost Dance Religion edited by Wisdom Quarterly
Ghost Dance by Oglala Lakota at Pine Ridge (illustration by Frederic Remington, 1890/Wiki)
In 1890, on Native American reservations across the West, followers of a new "religion" danced in circles until they collapsed into trances [which allowed them to see the "spirit world," other dimensions overlapping our own].

In an attempt to suppress this peaceful new faith movement, the US Army massacred over 200 Lakota Sioux at Wounded Knee Creek.

Louis S. Warren's God's Red Son offers a startling new view of the religion known as the Ghost Dance, from its origins in the visions of a Northern Paiute named Wovoka (called "Jack Wilson") to the tragedy in South Dakota.

To this day, the Ghost Dance remains widely mis-characterized as a "primitive" and failed effort by Native American militants to resist imperial American conquest and return to traditional Native ways.

In fact, followers of the Ghost Dance sought to thrive in the modern America forced on them by working for wages as ordered, farming the white man's land, and educating their children in the white man's schools [the purpose of which was to wash the "Indian" out of Native Americans], tenets that helped the religion endure for decades after Wounded Knee.

God's Red Son powerfully reveals how Ghost Dance teachings helped Indians retain their identity and reshape the modern world. Source

Book Review 
Kirkus Reviews edited by Wisdom Quarterly
This is an enlightening and scholarly study of Native American/Indian history that gets at the root tensions underlying the 1890 massacre [of 200 Lakota by the U.S. military] at Wounded Knee.
Why were the white Americans so concerned about the Ghost Dance religion practiced so enthusiastically by the Lakota Sioux and other Great Plains tribes in the 1880s?

In this astute new appraisal, Prof. Warren (Western U.S. History, University of California at Davis, author of Buffalo Bill's America: William Cody and the Wild West Show, 2005, etc.) finds something to this religion:
Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz
Based on messianic visions by a northern Paiute Native American in Nevada named Wovoka [white name "Jack Wilson"] offered a shred of hope for Indians denuded of their ancestral power and land, herded onto reservations, and stripped of their ability to live by the hunting-and-gathering [and deeply spiritual] methods of their Native elders.

The Ghost Dance took elements of Christianity, such as the messiah figure [of Judaism, Mithra of Mithraism/Zoroastrianism derived from the older Buddhist Maitreya concept], and wove them into a joyful communion involving movement and visions of horses and buffalo [and lost family members living happily in the Other World].
Mound Builders (Cayce)
Though the dancers could become frenzied and fall insensate [with their consciousness expanded in ecstatic states of samadhi], Warren insists that it was essentially a peaceful dance, stressing harmony within this jagged new age of American industry, wage work, and deracination.

However, many Americans -- since Indians were not considered citizens until 1924, Warren does not include Indians as Americans here -- felt threatened by the dances and banned the gatherings as being warlike, leading to the tragic "misunderstanding" [or purposeful misinterpretation] between the military and hundreds of Lakota at the Pine Ridge Reservation in late 1890. More

No comments: