Saturday, April 11, 2009
Ghost Dance: We Shall Live Again
In the 1800's, as the population of the First Nations people was being decimated, a Paiute medicine man by the name of Wovoka had a vision. During an eclipse of the sun he fell unconscious and remained so for several days. When he returned, he brought with him the vision of the Ghost Dance. This was a vision, a message to the people that they would rise again. Despite the death and destruction that had fallen upon them - through the spreading of the dance and a dedication to righteous living, the people would live, the buffalo would return and the old ways of life before the conquest would return. The People would live again; a resurrection of a different sort. This message spread throughout Indian Country, lifting the People with hope for a return of the old ways in a new day. As the message of hope spread among Indians, the same message struck fear in the new inhabitants and with an equal zeal; the Ghost Dance was outlawed. When several hundred cold and hungry, unarmed Lakota dancers were surrendering to the Seventh Cavalry in December of 1890, they were massacred at Wounded Knee, South Dakota. Thus ended the Ghost Dance Movement. But not the spirit of the Ghost Dance or the determination to live again.
You can kill my body,
You can damn my soul,
You don't stand a chance against my prayer,
You don't stand a chance against my love....
We shall live again,
We shall live again.
In this video of Robbie Robertson's song "Ghost Dance", we see some of the history - along with some of the hope of the future: young shawl and fancy dancers. My youngest son (the sailor whom I call Popeye in these blog-posts) is a fancy dancer. The dance came to him also in vision, in prayer, in hope. My other son also knows well the determination to live again, to rise above the Death-Wishers. We are not a dead people. We live, and we shall live again!
Muchas gracias Tlakaelel for helping plant my dangling roots back into the red earth.