Arts & Culture | The Ghost Dance | World of Music | Classical
The government-enforced isolation of Native Americans in the United States has fostered cultural independence, in contrast to the marked musical acculturation between the Hispanic-speaking and Amerindian societies in South America. But in modern times, North American groups have tended to set aside tribal differences and seek a pan-tribal cultural unity. The ‘Ghost Dance’, a religious cult led by Jack Wilson, was an early pan-tribal movement. Wilson proclaimed the ‘Ghost Dance’ would bring all dead Indians and dead buffalo back to life and drive the white man into the sea. The cult originated in the Great Basin (Utah, Nevada) during the 1880s, and soon caught hold in the Plains. The Ghost Dance style had a limited melodic range and simple form, generally with pairs of musical phrases (for instance AA, BB, CC). Although the cult was outlawed in the 1890s, its songs are still sung.
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