The Ghost Dance: Ethnohistory and Revitalization by Alice Beck Kehoe
186 pages, $26.95 list
eBook availability
The Ghost Dance
Ethnohistory and Revitalization
Second Edition
In this fascinating ethnohistorical case study of North American Indians, the Ghost Dance religion is the backbone for Kehoe’s exploration of significant aspects of American Indian life and her quest to learn why some theories become popular. In Part 1, she combines knowledge gained from her firsthand experiences living among and speaking with Indian elders with a careful analysis of historical accounts, providing a succinct yet insightful look at people, events, and institutions from the 1800s to the present. She clarifies unique and complex relationships among Indian peoples and dispels many of the false pretenses promoted by United States agencies over two centuries. In Part 2, Kehoe surveys some of the theories used to analyze the events described in Part 1, allowing readers to see how theories develop, to think critically about various perspectives, and to draw their own conclusions. Kehoe’s gripping presentation and analysis pave the way for just and constructive Indian-White relations.
“This volume is an excellent study of the Ghost Dance and its history, impact then, and significance now.” — John Barton, Utah State University

“Most students want to know what really happened at Wounded Knee, what happened to the Indian warriors who defeated General Custer, and what does all this have to do with religious movements and survival under almost intolerable stress. Here you will find out.” — Martha C. Ward, University of New Orleans

“An excellent in-depth analysis of the past and continuing importance of the Ghost Dance. Particularly interesting is the two-part division between the historical (including ethnohistorical) and ethnographic dimension. Easily the best currently available text on the Ghost Dance movement, and a comprehensive introduction to this important topic.” — Tok Thompson, University of Southern California

“Kehoe provides a thorough overview of a complex and representative cultural movement and historical event. A must-read for students of Native American history and culture.” — Brian Campbell, University of Central Arkansas

“Kehoe’s The Ghost Dance is a first-rate analysis of the effects of culture contact on Native American societies as manifested in changing religious practice and worldview over the course of a century or more. While ostensibly focusing on the life of Jack Wilson (Wovoka) and the Ghost Dance, Kehoe examines other prophets and other cultural developments in both earlier and later times. All of this she contextualizes in the economic, political, and social milieu of the day. Included here is a concise history of the complex relations between Native American tribes and American and European societies from the sixteenth century up through to the present day. The personal details of her research, as both preface and epilogue, also reveals the changing nature of anthropology itself and of anthropologist’s relationships with members of other cultural groups. Kehoe’s engaging critical anthropological and historical analysis of the Ghost Dance and other revitalization movements should be required reading of all students of anthropology, Native Studies, religion, and related areas of study. As with many of A. C. Wallace’s seminal publications on culture change, Kehoe’s work has comparable longevity and continued relevance.” — George Nicholas, Simon Fraser University

“. . . an enjoyable and valuable read.” — Ethnohistory

The Ghost Dance, 2/E, provides the perfect scholarly background I need to complement two feature-length films and a documentary that deal with historical and contemporary events surrounding Wounded Knee that I will show my class. The case study is an excellent way to bring the relationship between past and present issues into vivid focus for those who have no previous exposure to contemporary Native peoples, and Kehoe’s book is written in an engaging style that will be accessible to the undergraduates in my course.” — Cory Willmott, Southern Illinois University
Table of Contents

1. The Ghost Dance Religion
2. Massacre at Wounded Knee Creek
3. Death or Renewal?
4. New Tidings
5. Black Elk Speaks
6. Wounded Knee Again
7. Resilience Is the Word


8. Prophet Dances
9. Deprivation and the Ghost Dance
10. Revitalization
11. The Night in the Cabin