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The 1870 Ghost Dance

Cora Du Bois

Publication Year: 2007

The 1870 Ghost Dance was a significant but too often disregarded transformative historical movement with particular impact on the Native peoples of northern California. The spiritual energies of this “great wave,” as Peter Nabokov has called it, have passed down to the present day among Native Californians, some of whose contemporary individual and communal lives can be understood only in light of the dance and the complex religious developments inspired by it.
Cora Du Bois’s historical study, The 1870 Ghost Dance, has remained an essential contribution to the ethnographic record of Native Californian cultures for seven decades yet is only now readily available for the first time. Du Bois produced this pioneering work in the field of ethnohistory while still under the tutelage of anthropologist Alfred Louis Kroeber. Her monograph informs our understanding of Kroeber’s larger, grand and crucial salvage-ethnographic project in California, its approach and style, and also its limitations. The 1870 Ghost Dance adds rich detail to our understanding of anthropology in California before World War II

Published by: University of Nebraska Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. v-vii


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pp. viii

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Introduction to the Nebraska Edition

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pp. ix-xxiii

The reissuing of Cora Du Bois’s monograph “The 1870 Ghost Dance,” making it available to a broad audience for the first time, is occasion for celebration. For a variety of reasons, this work remains important despite the passage of nearly seven decades...

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pp. xxv-xxviii

This study deals with only one minor phase of a recurrent series of messianic or revivalistic movements which have arisen among the weaker peoples throughout the world as reactionary waves to the crushing impact of European culture. The subject under consideration...

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pp. 1-4

In order to clarify the mass of details that constitutes the body of this volume, this introduction has been written to serve as a summary guide to the major cults described. The material has been presented by tribes or areas in the body of the book...

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Part One: Nevada and the Klamath Drainage

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pp. 5-56

The first part of this volume will discuss the genesis of the 1870 Ghost Dance among the Paviotso and its course along the Klamath drainage among tribes of southeastern Oregon and northernmost California. This region represents...

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Part Two: Western Oregon

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pp. 57-88

In part 1 the bulk of the data dealt with the Ghost Dance proper. However, among the Shasta and Klamath reference was made to the Earth Lodge cult, which came from north-central California in 1872. The material from western Oregon deals primarily...

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Part Three: North-Central California

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pp. 89-269

Parts 1 and 2 dealt with the introduction of the Ghost Dance and Earth Lodge cult into northernmost California and western Oregon. The diffusion along the Klamath drainage and including Siletz and Grand Ronde reservations formed...

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Part Four: Big Head Cult

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pp. 271-295

In part 2, which dealt with the Oregon material, informants stated that Bogus Tom and particularly Frank had promised them that a Big Head dance would be brought to them. In part 3, the section on Round Valley Reservation contained...

Summary of Chronology

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pp. 297-299

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Summary of Contents

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pp. 301-311

Part 1 of this volume described the origin of the Ghost Dance among the Paviotso and its diffusion in northernmost California along the Klamath drainage. The idea of the imminent return of the dead can be attributed to Wodziwob, a shaman...

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Conclusions and Speculations

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pp. 313-322

In this section I have allowed myself a certain latitude in summarizing and speculating upon the various factors involved in the growth of modern cults in northern California and Oregon. First, a brief comment concerning terminology may be pertinent. It is...

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Appendix: Informants

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pp. 323-333

Approximately one hundred and forty informants were interviewed from the fall of 1932 through the summer of 1934. Only those quoted in the body of the text are listed here. Where interpreters were used, they are listed under the names...


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pp. 335-350


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pp. 351-375

E-ISBN-13: 9780803206960
E-ISBN-10: 0803206968

Page Count: 368
Illustrations: Illus., map
Publication Year: 2007

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Indian dance -- North America.
  • Indians of North America -- California -- Rites and ceremonies.
  • Nativistic movements -- California.
  • California -- Social life and customs.
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