Story of the ghost dance, a Paiute Shoshone story, this is not from Wavoka’s experience, but the story of the real dance, Anuh’no nuka, which is a round dance

Aaavayish, Long ago the animal people were the only people on this earth. They lived here before the humans and lived differently before the humans came. They too had hardships and struggles. They too conducted ceremonies for their people. This story is of one such ceremony given to them by Creator. This ceremony and dance is now used across Indian country in different ways, it even became a religion, the ghost dance. But this is where the dance came from, it is a story that has been around for thousands and years. Longer than time known to man.

The animal people were facing hardships, it was a time of drought, it was a time of harsh weather. The animals were starving and could not grow any crops, they could not find any roots or berrys to eat. The animals were struggling to get water too.

In their effort to address the hardship, they brought their concerns to their Daygwah’nee (speaker of the people, voice of the people aka Chief). The Daygwah’nn was Muskrat and he was a kind leader. To address their needs he went on a vision, he sweated, he went alone and prayed to Creator to help him save his people, he asked for insight as to how they can carry on their people to survive this hardship.

Soon, Muskrat came back to his people. He had a vision, “The people must gather, we must connect in a circle and hold hands, we must sing songs like so, we must slide our feet in unison to the songs and drums, adnd Creator said this will help our people”.

The animal people prepared and they all came together and danced, and danced and danced. The kept on dancing till days went by, soon there were no more animals dancing, they had all fallen in exhaustion. During their sleep from exhaustion, something happened. What had occurred is that while the animals danced, their claws had made grooves in the earth, the wind and dust from all of their movement had carried seeds in to these grooves and a small rain came as they slept. The animals had no idea what was occurring around them, they just slept in a deep slumber.

When they woke up, the animals realized that the Creator had blessed them, they woke to new buds of plants which would prevent their people from starvation.

Now, the animals continued this dance because it was a ceremony for the earth to be replenished, a prayer for the survival of the people, it was about them coming together and praying for new beginnings and giving thanks for all they had been given.

To this day our people honor the animal people for sharing this dance, it strengthens our people in many ways, it provides a place for us to honor the earth with ceremony. This dance has many names, the pine-nut dances, the warm dance, the ghost dance and the round dance. In this dance we are thanking all of creation, we are thanking all those who have danced before us, in that circle. We come together to pray for the survival of our people, and it is something that has been around on this earth for time immemorial.



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