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Unformatted text preview: Alternatives: Turkish Journal of International Relations Vol.3, No.4, Winter 2004 60 GHOST DANCE: The U.S. and Illusions of Power in the 21 st Century Blent Gkay and Darrell Whitman* All Indians must dance, everywhere, keep on dancing. Pretty soon in next spring Great Spirit come. He bring back all game of every kind. The game be thick everywhere. All dead Indians come back and old blind Indian see again and get young and have fine time. When Great Spirit comes this way, then all Indians go to mountains, high up away from whites. Whites cant hurt Indians then. Then while Indians way up high, big flood comes like water and all white people die, get drowned. After that, water go way and then nobody but Indians everywhere and game all kinds thick. Then medicine man tell Indians to send word to all Indians to keep up dancing and the good time will come.--Wovoka, the Paiute Messiah 1 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. Wovokas 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. Alternatives: Turkish Journal of International Relations Vol.3, No.4, Winter 2004 61 As the news of the gathering at Walker Lake traveled, Native Americans everywhere took up the Ghost Dance until it came to dominate tribal life in much of the Western United States. By late November, the spreading Ghost Dance had attracted the attention of the U.S. political and military elite who, sensing a threat to their control, launched a campaign to isolate or eliminate its leaders. Troops were dispatched to the Northern Plains and by late in December the leaders of the Ghost Dance, including the great Sioux Chief Sitting Bull, lay dead and buried in the cold hard earth of the Pine Ridge Reservation of the Dakota Territory. The battle of Wounded Knee, which was more a slaughter than a battle, ended the Dance and the dream of Native Americans for a return to their past....
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