The once free-roaming life of the Sioux was destroyed. The final buffalo were gone, and the Sioux were confined to reservations and surviving off of very little resources. Barely surviving, the people were desperate for any type of nourishment, and along came the Ghost Dance. A dance thought to bring back the days when the buffalo surrounded them in huge numbers; the days when they were strong and striving, but in the end it would all stop in a very short time.
"Lakota leaders such as Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse, and Red Cloud were among the best known Native Americans of the nineteenth century" (Gale 287). "These chiefs lead their tribe into two of the most famous incidents in American History, the battle of the Little Bighorn, in 1876, and the massacre at Wounded Knee in 1890" (Gale 287).
The Ghost Dance was a desperate attempt to return to their days of glory. A man called Wovoka, had brought this dance to the Native American people. "Emissaries from the Sioux in South Dakota traveled to Nevada to hear his words. Wovoka called himself the Messiah and prophesied that the dead would soon join the living in a world in which the Indians could live in the old way surrounded by plentiful game" (ibiscom 1). "A tidal wave of new soil would cover the earth, bury the whites, and restore the prairie" (ibiscom 1).
"To bring this event, the Indians were to dance the Ghost Dance. Many dancers wore brightly colored shirts with pictures of eagles and buffalo on them. The Indians also thought that these so called "Ghost Shirts" would protect them from the enemies bullets. During the fall of 1890, the Ghost Dance spread through the Sioux villages of the Dakota reservations, revitalizing the Indians" (ibiscom 1). The white people were frightened by the Ghost Dance so they had to make a law that forbids the Native American culture from performing the Ghost Dance. .
"In December 1890, U.S. troops under General Nelson Miles were sent to the Pine Ridge Reservation to arrest Sitting Bull and enforce the law against practicing the Ghost Dance" (Gale 291).