The Ghost Dance by the Oglala Lakota at Pine Ridge. Illustration by Frederic Remington, 1890The Ghost Dance (Caddo: Nanissáanah, also called the Ghost Dance of 1890) was a new religious movement which was incorporated into numerous Native American belief systems. According to the prophet Jack Wilson (Wovoka)’s teachings, proper practice of the dance would reunite the living with the spirits of the dead and bring peace, prosperity, and unity to native peoples throughout the region. The basis for the Ghost Dance, the circle dance, is a traditional ritual which has been used by many Native Americans since prehistoric times, but this new form was first practiced among the Nevada Paiute in 1889. The practice swept throughout much of the Western United States, quickly reaching areas of California and Oklahoma. As the Ghost Dance spread from its original source, Native American tribes synthesized selective aspects of the ritual with their own beliefs. This process often created change in both the society that integrated it, and in the ritual itself.

The Ghost Dance by the Oglala Lakota at Pine Ridge. Illustration by Frederic Remington, 1890
The Ghost Dance (Caddo: Nanissáanah, also called the Ghost Dance of 1890) was a new religious movement which was incorporated into numerous Native American belief systems. According to the prophet Jack Wilson (Wovoka)’s teachings, proper practice of the dance would reunite the living with the spirits of the dead and bring peace, prosperity, and unity to native peoples throughout the region. The basis for the Ghost Dance, the circle dance, is a traditional ritual which has been used by many Native Americans since prehistoric times, but this new form was first practiced among the Nevada Paiute in 1889. The practice swept throughout much of the Western United States, quickly reaching areas of California and Oklahoma. As the Ghost Dance spread from its original source, Native American tribes synthesized selective aspects of the ritual with their own beliefs. This process often created change in both the society that integrated it, and in the ritual itself.