The Ghost Dance The Ghost Dance was a very important custom performed by many Indians during the 1880’s through the 1890’s. During the 1890’s, the Indian civilization started to die. The Ghost Dance was a dance that tried to bring back the dead and bring back the ways of the Indians. During those times the Indians were having a hard time dealing with all of the white men. The white men were trying to push the Indians out of their land. In these times, the white man had basic control over the reservation.
That meant that the white man had control of the supplies and food that the Indians received. The white man did not take good care of the Indians, as portrayed in the movie Thunderheart. During the movie Thunderheart the white man is sent in to find out about a murder of one of the Sioux tribe’s members. In the movie there is a revolt going on with a group called the ARM’s that are trying to save their Indian culture.
Just like back in the old days. The white man in the movie treats all of the Indians like they are dirt. The Indians turn out to be very smart people who have many talents. During the movie the main character, Ray Levi starts to have visions and see many Indians doing the ghost dance. The main character is part Indian, but he does not believe that the Indians are his people. During the 1880’s, that is when Wovoka had the vision of the Ghost Dance.
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Ever since that day he tried to get as many people as he could to join him to fight the white man. The ghost dance plays a major part in the movie Thunderheart and also plays a major role in the lives of the Indians. During the movie Thunderheart, the white man is brought into the badlands of South Dakota to investigate a murder of an Oglala Sioux. The Indians on this reservation have been going through some bad times right now. The living and health conditions are very bad on this reservation. During the movie there is a movement by a group called the ARM’s.
They are trying to save their religion and faith. The white man is starting to take over and do whatever they want with their land. In the movie there is a man called Milton who is always beating on the Indians in any way he can. He has a bunch of G. O.
O. N. S. behind his back to help him. He tries to take care of anyone that is under the ARM group; he is for the total opposite. Milton is trying to get the Indians to do things his way.
He wants everyone to go to the twentieth century. The Indians want to do things their way so when they get in the way Milton takes care of them. The main character Ray is brought in to find out who the murder is and solve the case. He has three days to complete this mission. He is also teamed up with one of the best agents around. By the end of the movie we end up learning that Cout elle was the murderer and planned on ruining the land.
Ray the main character is brought on to the reservation to investigate what has happened. He encounters some Indians and does not really treat them well good. Ray has an Indian background to him. He really does not believe that those are “his people” even though that the Indians tell him that they are.
Ray is not really fond of the Indians and he also thinks that they should update their customs. After talking to the Indian police chief he starts to learn that the Indians are smart. The Indian police told Ray to listen to nature, listen to the wind, the water, and the trees. Ray did not believe a word he said until the Indian police officer told he about himself without even knowing him for more that five minutes. Ray was amazed but did not show it. During his time on the reservation Ray started to have visions.
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In an Indian’s life, it is very important to have visions. Sometimes an Indian will never have a vision in his whole life. As soon as Ray was brought to the reservation he started to have visions. Ray was brought to the reservation for a reason; the ancient ancestors brought Ray to help. After a while Ray was brought to see the medicine man, which is the grandfather. Ray wanted to find out if the old man had any information about the murder.
The old man ended up telling him about the murder but Ray did not understand. The old man also told Ray about a child experience that he had with his Indian father. Ray was very ashamed of his Indian father. The old man told him all about it and made him very embarrassed. Now Ray knew that the old man and the police officer knew what they were talking about and could read a person just by looking at him. The visions that Ray was having were of the Ghost Dance.
Ray would see many men on a plateau dance and chanting. After a few second they would all disappear. The Ghost Dance was a very important tradition that the Indians performed. The Ghost Dance was a way for the Indians to separate themselves from the white man and the religion they were trying to force on the Indians. The Ghost Dance was one of the central rituals that tried to help the Indians restore their past.
These traditions were just to basically reject the white man’s way of life. The Indians were trying to reject the white mans traditions of using alcohol, weapons, and technology. Also the Ghost Dance was also a bringing together of tribes. Many of the tribes before were enemies, cause of the white man coming in, they joined sides and became allies. Many of the tribes were about to lose their freedom, their beliefs, their homes, and their existence.
The Ghost Dance was a resurrection of the dead, it was a bringing back of the customs and the way of life that the Indians were trying to hold on to. There was one man that started this Ghost Dance movement. The man that started this Ghost Dance movement was Wovoka. He was a member of the Paiute tribe, he also came from a family or prophets. Wovoka was known as a medicine man.
He said that one day while he had a fever, he watched an eclipse of the sun; he had the vision that inspired him to develop this dance. The vision consisted of a movement that would lead to the white man die ing and disappearing from the Earth after a natural devastation. After the white man has disappeared the Indian dead would return to bring back the old way that would last forever. To bring these beliefs back, the Indians had to practice the Ghost Dance movement and they had to get rid of alcohol and farming and end mourning. The resurrection would be coming soon, so that meant they had to practice the most important part, which was the dance. The dance was like no other dance.
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It consisted of fast footsteps and loud drumming. There were many slow shuffling movements that followed the course of the sun. This ritual would be performed for four to five days with singing and chanting. There were no musical instruments used at all. In most dances, the men only danced, sung, and were musicians. In this dance the women also did the same stuff as the men.
Wovoka held the first dance in 1889. The word of this dance started to spread and many other tribes started to do it and come together. Many tribes took on this ritual and added little things to it to make it special for them. The Sioux added two main things to their ritual: they used hypnosis to aid in the communication with the dead, and they used a ghost shirt. This ghost shirt was made of buckskin. It was said to make the wearer immune to bullets, or any other weapons.
One of the famous Sioux warriors, Sitting Bull, used the Ghost Dance in his life. Sitting Bull was a medicine man, warrior, and a leader. Just a few minutes after he attended his first Ghost Dance a white man killed him. All of his followers joined the band of Kicking Bear. He was one of the first to practice with Wovoka. The followers of the Ghost Dance all gathered at Wounded Knee Creek where they were killed while resisting arrest.
Many of these people that were killed where women and children. They were also wearing their ghost shirts that did not stop the bullets of the white man. The Ghost Dance is still used today by many Indian tribes all over the world. During Thunderheart Ray sees the Indians performing the Ghost Dance many times. He also has a vision during the movie of him running with many Indians away from the white man.
It was by an Indian cemetery, the cemetery was from the Wounded Knee Creek massacre. Ray saw and felt what his people were going through. The people of the tribe that he was with now were going through the same stuff as they were in the late 1800’s. By the end of the movie we learn to find out that Ray’s officer friend was the killer and that he and Milton were planning on drilling and putting toxic waste on the reservation. That is why all the people in the reservation were getting sick from drinking the water. It is weird how the same people are going through the same problems as they went through back in the 1800’s.
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A white man that is part Indian defeated this time the white man. The old ancestors brought Ray back to teach him about his heritage and to help them with their problems. The Ghost Dance plays a major role in the Indians traditions. During the late 1800’s it was invented by Wovoka to bring back the ancestors to help defeat the white man. In Thunderheart, it was like the Indians tried to bring Ray back so he can save the Indians from the white man. The white man has always tried to take everything from the Indians.
In this movie the white man did not succeed. In the 1800’s they did succeed though. Both stories are very moving in the fact that how much a person would stand up for what they believe in. The Indians had a very strong background and did not want the white man taking it away from them. In the movie the Indians win their freedom.