chapter
ghost dance
Pages 5

The ghost dance remains an important part of *Native North American cultural history in part because of the savage butchery of the United States Army on the battlefield at Wounded Knee in 1890. This was the subject of a classic monograph by James Mooney (1861-1921). Mooney’s first-hand inquiry dealt with the spread of the ghost dance movement in Western North America in the early reservation period and the actions taken by the military to suppress it. His own sympathy for the Irish nationalist struggle for independence from Britain led Mooney to see the ghost dance as a product of EuroAmerican contact history and the powerlessness of the Native Americans. The dances promoted solidarity and *resistance to domination or assimilation. Mooney also compared the ghost dance with *millenarian religions in Europe, Asia, and elsewhere and his monograph remains a model for the study of such movements, both theoretically and methodologically.