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.