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0 anonyme - Ghostdance

Ghostdance [Image]

What follows is a short tale told (and retold many times) by Native
American Tribespeople... It tells the Story of the GHOSTDANCE which those
tribespeople danced believing it would bring back their freedoms and their

"When the earth is dying there shall arise a new tribe of all colours and
all creeds. This tribe shall be called The Warriors of the Rainbow and it
will put its faith in actions not words..." Hopi Indian prophecy ('Hopi'
means 'Peace')

Our tale takes us back over 150 years ago till we are somewhere around the
last years in which the Native American peoples lived the life that they
had so long enjoyed... For those unfamiliar with these tribes their culture
was not dissimilar to what is considered a 'New Age' lifestyle today. It
was a Nomadic culture that moved as the seasons, the buffalo and the
spirits moved. It was an Earthy Culture that often brought the tribespeople
in close communion with nature of which they considered themselves a part.
It was a vibrant culture... many dances and chants and colourful display
were part of it and they celebrated their culture often to drumming and
wild revelry. Most important it was a diverse culture.. tribes varied and
celebrated their differences, had their own folklore, beliefs, customs and
were FREE to do so. FREEDOM (to move, express and live alternatively) was a
key element to the Native American experience.

All this was not appreciated by the White Man.. America to the western mind
was a vast new expanse of property to be acquired and its barbourous
inhabitants, the 'Indians', Civilized. As White Man moved west, acquiring
land it was at the expense of the cultures of the Red (wo)man. A Nomadic
lifestlye where the land belonged to all who freely roam upon it clashed
with notions of Property and governance and the rather bewildered Indians
were successively left less and less land and bound more and more by the
new laws of the land. Eventually the poorest bits of land (which were least
profitable) were all that was 'reserved' for them and the diverse tribes
were herded into these 'reservations' to much anger. You could as soon
expect one born free to easily give up their freedom as the rivers to still
and the winds of the world to hush..

.. Anger and discontent of the Indians scared the New Americans who saw
them as evil savages.. In reply General Sherman lead a campaign to quell
those who were not accepting the reservations. General Sherman is famously
quoted as having written to his brother "The only good indians I ever saw
were dead" which became the popular expression of Anti-Indian prejudice:"
The good Indian is a dead Indian". In the mid 19th Century Indians were the
'New Age Travellers' of their day, demonised by the press etc. General
Shermans Campaign was known as 'The Campaign of Extermination'.. Ethnic
Cleansing 1880's style became intense...

The Campaign was working.. many died who tried to fight back and by the
late 1880's the Indian Nations were in effect cowed.. their spirit and
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0 anonyme - Ghostdance
morale gone.. what civil rights movement there had been destroyed. It was
in this atmosphere that a Shaman from the Sioux tribe made a journey that
was to prove very important.

He visited The Peiote tribe of the South and there another Shaman told him
to look into a hat. When he looked into this hat he claimed to find himself
walking in another world: The Old World. This was the world before the
white man came and took the land and the buffalo away. The great herds
roamed free and the tribes after them, There were no fences, no railways,
no telegraph poles, slaughterhouses, whorehouse and all the corruption and
filth of the New World.. instead the Shaman was able to walk with the
ghosts of the ancestors and enjoy things as they were. The Ghosts of the
ancestors then taught him a dance. Its words were this (although there are
many versions):

I Circle Around, I Circle Around The Boundaries Of the Earth..

I Circle Around, I Circle Around The Boundaries Of the Earth
Wearing my long brown feathers as I fly...
Wearing my long brown feathers as I fly...

The Shaman brought this dance back to the Sioux People. he gathered them in
one place and he taught them it. He told them that if they purified
themselves and then danced this dance, and enough of them danced this
dance, the new world with all its corruption, railways, fences etc would
just roll up and there underneath would be the old world as it had always
been. And he gave the people white shirts with the sun and the stars and
the moon upon them which were magical and that the white man's bullets
could not pierce.
This then is how the first ever Ghostdance happened: The Sioux went to the
sweat lodges, purified themselves, put on their white shirts and then
danced around a pine tree, whirling and laughing. For the first 2 lines ("I
circle...") they linked hands ina huge circle and and danced around first
in one direction then the other. When they chanted "Heya" they stamped and
when they sang the last two lines they spread their arms like wings and
whirled around till they came back together for the first 2 lines again...

The Ghostdance grew until, almost overnight, news of it spread and across
North America all the tribes started dancing their own Ghostdances with
larger and larger numbers... As the ghost dances grew, the tribespeople
became more certain that the Old World was coming back, that by dancing
they could be free again... invincible in their magic white shirts...

And with the newfound strength of the Indian Peoples the American
government got nervous... Hundreds of discontented Indians gathering in the
open air with such strong sense of identity sounded dangerous.. The
Ghostdance was seen as the sign for a mass insurrection that needed to be

The final (or was it) chapter of the ghostdance occured in 1890... over 250
sioux men, women and children had gathered together and began ghostdancing
at a place called Wounded Knee Creek when the troops of General Sherman
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with Cannon and Musket opened fire... The dancers believed that their white
shirts would protect them...

... all but a handful of the ghostdancers were massacred with them died the

But the ghost dance still continues and gathers momentum slowly again
throughout the world. It is still is believed that if enough people join
that maybe the door can be opened to remake our world and bring back the
lands of our ancestors and live with them again in peace and harmony.

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