Monday, September 18, 2006

Native American Messiah

At the end of the 19th century, while white Americans were busy decimating the Buffalo population, some Native American shamans shared a vision of what is called the "Ghost Dance":

All Indians must dance, everywhere, keep on dancing. Pretty soon in next spring the Big Man come. He bring back all game of every kind. The game be thick everywhere. All dead Indians come back and live again. They all be strong just like young man, be young again. Old blind Indian see again and get young and have fine time. When Big Man comes this way, then all Indians go to mountains, high up away from whites. Whites can't hurt Indians then. Then while Indians way high up, big flood comes like water and all white people die, get drowned. After that water go way and then nobody but Indians everywhere and game all kinds thick. [...] Indians who don't dance, who don't believe in this word, will grow little, just about a foot high, and stay that way. Some of them will be turned into wood and be burned in fire.
There are some obvious parallels to the Christian notion of the Second Coming, but what I find more interesting are the differences. Through various tensions and misunderstandings, the movement was dealt its strongest blow at Wounded Knee in 1890 where the US Calvary killed at lest 153 Sioux. The Ghost Dance movement quickly fade in response to this defeat. When prophecies aren't fulfilled, shouldn't they be ignored? In this respect, the faith of the Native American seem more reasonable than Christianity (excluding extremely liberal interpretations of "Christianity").

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