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Ghost Dance Movement: Topics in Chronicling America

In the 1890s, growth of the Ghost Dance Movement led to fear, conflict, and fascination. This guide provides access to materials related to the “Ghost Dance Movement” in the Chronicling America digital collection of historic newspapers.

Introduction

Three parts of the Ghost Dance. May 23, 1903. The Minneapolis Journal (Minneapolis, MN), Image 11#. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers.

Inspired by the Native American prophet Wovoka, the Ghost Dance movement exploded in popularity amongst Native Americans throughout the country in 1890. Described by US newspapers as “religious frenzy,” conflicting reports about the intentions and amount of participation in the dances prompted the US Army to guard reservations, sometimes resulting in violent clashes. The extremely bloody Wounded Knee Massacre caused the Ghost Dance to fade in popularity amongst some Native Americans, but the American public’s fascination with it remained. Read more about it!

The information in this guide focuses on primary source materials found in the digitized historic newspapers from the digital collection Chronicling America.

The timeline below highlights important dates related to this topic and a section of this guide provides some suggested search strategies for further research in the collection.

Timeline

November, 1890 Reports of massive Ghost Dances appear in US newspapers.
December 29, 1890 Wounded Knee Massacre, estimated 200 Native Americans killed.
1892 Ethnologist joins in during Ghost Dance and describes the dance as having “ecstatic stages.”
1910 Tickets are sold to watch the Ghost Dance.
1913 Ghost Dance is permitted to be performed at a state fair.