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, festivities.
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.