Ghost dance. A religious dance of the North American Indians, participated in by both sexes, and looked upon as a rite of invocation the purpose of which is, through trance and vision, to bring the dancer into communion with the unseen world and the spirits of departed friends. The dance is the chief rite of the Ghost-dance, or Messiah, religion, which originated about 1890 in the doctrines of the Piute Wovoka, the Indian Messiah, who taught that the time was drawing near when the whole Indian race, the dead with the living, should be reunited to live a life of millennial happiness upon a regenerated earth. The religion inculcates peace, righteousness, and work, and holds that in good time, without warlike intervention, the oppressive white rule will be removed by the higher powers. The religion spread through a majority of the western tribes of the United States, only in the case of the Sioux, owing to local causes, leading to an outbreak.
[Webster 1913 Suppl.]
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