A Native American called Wovoka, but known better to history as Jack Wilson, was transported to heaven on January 1, 1889 during a solar eclipse, and in the presence of God he saw a vision of heaven, a beautiful place populated by large herds of wild game. He saw the ancestors in heaven spending their time happily in the Native Americans’ favorite leisure activities.
The term Ghost Dance arose from the spiritual renewal movement that Wovoka founded among the Native Americans in 1890. By the 1880s, the Native Americans had fallen into very hard times, confronted with the dire specter of hunger, disease and extinction of their cultures due to European immigrants into the New World. The new European immigrants were systematically
dispossessing Native Americans of their land and were forcing them to submit to “government” authority and relocation to bleak reservations. Wovoka prophesied an end to European dispossession and exhorted the people to help hasten the commencement of times of renewal God had promised by doing the “round dance” as prescribed. The Native Americans complied eagerly and what came to be known as the Ghost Dance began with the Peyote of Nevada in 1889 and spread very quickly among the Native Americans of the West as far as California and Oklahoma.
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