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God's Red Son: The Ghost Dance Religion and the Making of Modern America
God's Red Son: The Ghost Dance Religion and the Making of Modern America


 
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"On New Year's Day, 1889, a Northern Paiute named Wovoka awoke from a reverie proclaiming that God had shown him a new dance that would help bring peace and eternal youth to Indians. Soon after, Indians across the American West were joining hands in large circles, whirling until they collapsed into trances; upon waking, many proclaimed that they had seen the Indian messiah, who would restore believers to an unblemished earth, teeming with buffalo and horses. This ecstatic new religion was known as the Ghost Dance, and it alarmed US officials, who set out to suppress it. On December 28, 1890 the US Army massacred over two hundred Lakota Sioux Ghost Dancers at Wounded Knee.

Thus ended the Ghost Dance, a religion that represented a doomed attempt to return to the past -- or so many have claimed. But in God's Red Son, prize winning historian Louis S. Warren argues that the Ghost Dan was in fact a modern religion that helped believers navigate a rapidly changing world. Uncovering long-hidden teachings of Wovoka, and tracing their journey along mail routes and train tracks to reservations across the Plains, Warren reveals how the religion inspired American Indians to survive and shape the modern world while retaining their identity. The ghost Dance endured long after Wounded Knee, helping to remake both Indian religion and American anthropology, and paradoxically expanding notions of religious tolerance.

Offering a radical new interpretation of the Ghost Dance, God's Red Son argues that rather than signaling the end of Indian resistance, the religion marked a series of beginnings: of a new Indian fight for religious freedom, of the reservation era, and of the twentieth century. "

By Louis S. Warren in 2017.

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