Ghost Dance

Purpose | Costume


The costumes the Indians wore during the Ghost Dance ceremonies were just as important as the movement itself. During the Wounded Knee Massacre Yellow Bird told fellow Indians that their Ghost Dance Shirts would protect them against the white soldiers bullets.

The Ghost Dance dresses and shirts reflect the religious aspects of the ceremony. This dress includes the turtle, which brought the soil for the world's creation, and birds, the messengers of the spirit world. Owl feathers were sometimes used for Ghost Dance objects, like headdress, because of the belief that the owls were connected to the spirits of the dead and headdresses seemed to be associated with the return of the Indians deceased ancestors. Other important objects, such as feather necklaces, were worn during the dance to keep them from tiring.

With the ghost Dance movement there is color dualism representing heaven and earth or the future and present world. While the colors often vary, blue usually represents the sky while red and green represent the earth. The difference between red and green is that red is for man and green is for vegetation.

The Following video shows the real costumes used during the ghost dance, however it is not an authentic ghost dance. It is an early Thomas Edison movie (now in the public domain).




Click here to see on older version of the Arapaho Project,
with additional information on Ghost Dance


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