Ghost Dance

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The Ghost Dance religion was a Native American religion from the late 1800s. Sitting Bull was a follower of the Ghost Dance, and in 1890, he and other followers of the religion were killed at Wounded Knee in no small part because of this new Religion.


The Ghost Dance is said to have begun in the late 1870s or early 1880's by a Paiute Indian (raised in a Christian home) named Wovoka who had a vision of God coming back to the Redman and saving them from the White Man, and returning their lands as part of Heaven. The Christian aspects of the Ghost Dance come directly from Revelations, but are intertwined in the American Indian world view to create a totally new religion.

Sitting Bull and Wounded Knee

Oral tradition has it that Sitting Bull heard of this new religion that would save the Indian People, and sent an emissary to go to the Paiute homeland and bring back news of this religion. Under Sitting Bull, the Ghost Dance lost its passiveist language and, embraced by the warrior community of the Sioux, became what was perceived by American Soldiers and the local government, a religion that threatened White presence with outright violence. Whether or not this is true, cannot be told until the voices of long since dead are brought back to life.

Regardless, tensions between Sioux warriors and the soldiers were hightened as the elder warriors practiced this new religion. On December 29, 1890, soldiers feeling threatened by dancers opened fire on the dancers, killing over 300 Sioux. Almost 30 soldiers died in the Battle of Wounded Knee.