The Ghost Dance
The Ghost Dance was a message of end times to Gray Hair's people: the dead would
soon return, and the intruding White people would be annihilated. He was a charismatic
speaker and influenced Native Americans to perform rituals and dance to prepare for
the World's end. This had a huge effect on Native Americans all over the united States,

The 1890 Ghost Dance spread primarily to tribes who lived east of those influenced by
the Ghost Dance of 1870, never reaching western Oregon. Among the Plains tribes, the
Ghost Dance of 1890 was a factor in the last clash with the U.S. Army at Wounded
Knee, where hundreds of Lakota men, women, and children were massacred.

The Wounded Knee Massacre effectively ended the millennial expectations of the
movement, although Ghost Dancing has persisted to the present as a dance form among
some tribes.

See the historic video of Sioux Indians Dancing the Ghost Dance in 1894, four years
after it lead to the Wounded Knee Massacre of the Sioux.

1890 Lakota Sioux Ghost Dance Dress

Who Started the Ghost Dance Among the Native Americans?
The dynamic religious revitalization movement, symbolized by the Ghost Dance, was
started by the Paviotso man Wodziwob (Gray Hair) in 1869. While in a trance, Gray Hair
learned that a ruler was coming with all the spirits of the dead. He would change earth
into paradise, bring eternal life, and eliminate all distinctions between races.
Preparation for this event entailed dancing with only short rests, bathing daily, and
decorating oneself with red, black, and white paint. It was thought that dancing would
hasten the approach of the dead. Ghost Dancers were encouraged to faint and dream of
the returning dead. In these Ghost Dance dreams, many people met and talked with
dead relatives who were on their way back to join the living. Others saw that everyone
in the land of the dead was happy.  

Gray Hair's teachings were adopted by another prophet, Weneyuga (Frank Spencer),
who converted the Washo and then traveled to the Paviotso in northeastern California
and the Klamath in southern Oregon. A modified version of the Ghost Dance known as
the Earth Lodge Cult developed in north-central California among the Wintun and Hill
Patwin tribes. The Earth Lodge Cult emphasized the end of the world more than the
return of the dead (see Millenarian Movements). The dances were held in
semisubterranean structures to protect the cult's members from the holocaust that
would occur at world's end.  

The Earth Lodge Cult was carried to the Pomo tribe, who developed it into the
elaborately expressive Dreamer Cult or Bole-Maru Cult. This cult consisted of
dreamers inspired by the Christian God, who taught the revelations of their dreams and
preached a highly moralistic code. They abandoned the idea of the impending end of the
world and emphasized teachings about the afterlife and a supreme being. Modified
forms of the Bole-Maru religion are still practiced by  contemporary Pomo and Patwin
peoples in north-central California.  

Among the Tillamook of Oregon, the Ghost Dance became the Southwest Wind Dance. It
was introduced in the 1870s by a man named Yetcit, who taught that all the Native
Americans would die if they did not become involved. The Tillamook who participated in
the Ghost Dance believed that if they danced they would live, their dead relatives
would return, and whatever they wished for while dancing would appear the next
morning. Nothing in the Southwest Wind Dance promoted getting rid of Whites.
Native American Art Heading
Native American Ghost Dance
1890 Ghost Dance Dress of the Lakota Sioux