Aug 23rd, 2011 :: BY Double You :: POSTED IN Vision :: Articles

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When you dress. When you hear the bass. When you step out and into the landscape of Black Rock Desert this year, the alkaline rich dry lakebed surrounded by hills packed with abundant veins of gold and silver…what will you stand for? What will you contribute through the collective connection to the world and its people in its hour of need?

Know this: The annual Burning Man Festival is held on the traditional lands of the Northern Paiute Indians (the Northern Paiute call themselves Numa which means “The People”). Every person who steps onto that playa is taking part of a much older practice, established by the traditions of the Paiute, which in these dramatic times is a boon to be remembered. It is commonly known as the Ghost Dance.

Starting in 1889 and widely adopted by 1890, this new spiritual practice was rapidly embraced by North American tribes to bring about the return of the natural way of life. These dances involved thousands of people, young and old, dancing for days, receiving revelations, and installing unity amongst the tribes. It was first received as a vision by the Paiute prophet and medicine man Jack Wilson aka “Wavoka” during the solar eclipse of January 1, 1889.

In that experience The Creator showed Wavoka a beautiful land filled with wild game and instructed him to return home to tell his people that they must love each other, not fight, and live in peace, that the people must work, not steal or lie, and that they must not engage in the old practices of war or the traditional self-mutilation practices connected with mourning the dead. The Creator said that if his people abided by these rules, they would be united with their friends and family in the other world.

Wavoka claimed to have left the presence of The Creator convinced that if every Indian in the West danced the new dance to “hasten the event,” all evil in the world would be swept away, leaving a renewed Earth filled with food, love, and faith. Quickly accepted by his Paiute tribesmen, the new religion was termed “Dance In a Circle.” Because the first European contact with the practice came by way of the Sioux, their expression “Spirit Dance” was adopted as a descriptive title for all such practices. This was subsequently translated as “Ghost Dance.”

If one may have an Intention, an active prayer, for their time as an artist on the playa, may it be to inspire greatness and rally the interactive audience to change. Call and response. Power up! If you’re an MC, a DJ, a performer, a poet, a dancer, a band, a participant, grab the mic, or gather a group around you sometime that week and let Black Rock City know what humanity can stand for: Peace, Love, Unity, Freedom and Liberty for all. Dance for it. Rock for it. Move for it. Live the Ghost Dance and pave the way to our better world. This is the spiritual inheritance of the land upon which you party. Don’t trash it. Embrace it. Work with it. Own it.

If you feel challenged here, don’t look to the group, the lowest common denominator of social cues and peer acceptance for the answer. Be the answer. Lead the answer. Strike the match that creates the conversation which transforms the worlds context. Generate value changes. Destroy one economy by generating a new one with the gift of refreshing thought. Stand wherever you are and declare your heart. Participate.

Above all, remember the ancestors –they have your back. It is commonly held that the indigenous people of this land who have passed have become all that you see in the wild open. The rivers, the stones, the wind, the trees. Use all your senses to receive and perceive them. Smell the air, touch the earth, taste the food, hear their songs, and see their dance intertwined in every natural form all about you –all a language transmitting connection and wisdom. With a bow of the head, acknowledge all those who have come before you and cared for the land. They play with you now.

Dear open minded friends, a people I may call the New Indigenous –anything is possible. So is it not possible that Wavoka’s vision, and what it represents, is accessible to you today to carry it forward into being? If you think it –then it is so. You’ve proven this to yourself a million times over. So I invite you here, as stewards of this land, to take the challenge and restore this planet back to paradise. The Paiute lived this. You’re about to dance on their home turf. Dance the Ghost Dance at Burning Man and know you are an active part of how we make it back to heaven on earth.




August 23rd, 2011 at 7:41 pm
Ms Apricot:

I have seen this on many friend’s facebook post, and finally just read it! Thank you for bringing intention into the our realm of dance, and the honoring of ancestors. Yes, any thing is possible, as we create the future, but our real rights of passage comes from honoring those who passed before us!
May the intentions set on the Playa reach far and wide and help heal the planet and honor all who have come before, and all who will follow.

August 23rd, 2011 at 11:38 pm

Thank You…
getting excited about my journey to Black Rock…having not attended last year…In my time away i realize that this (dance) we do, this incredible gathering renews my faith in humanity…many blessings to all …safe travels and may we dance and will and love so much that can feel the creators …. u know …lots o love

August 24th, 2011 at 6:18 am

OK, I’ve been watching this with amusement for months now but I’m gonna say something… The Ghost Dance was danced to drive the non-Native invaders away. Thinking you are “Red in your heart” doesn’t matter. Your ancestors who “have your back” are the people who slaughtered the people who were Ghost Dancing. Do you see how absurd this is? You can’t just re-write history, or twist the words of Wovoka and his descendants. Non-natives are being laughed at by Natives for trying to co-opt this ceremony. You are dancing a prayer for your own destruction! Seriously, how dumb can you get? How many bodies will you find hanging from the Man this year?

August 24th, 2011 at 10:14 am

To anyone who makes the above claim that the Ghost Dance was created to kill and drive the white man away have not read Wavoka’s own words and intent which you read right here:

The short version is that he preached harmony with the white man. It was the Soiux through their adoption of the Ghost Dance who shaped their version it to be a white man remover. Many many tribes were offered Wavoka’s vision and each did as they pleased with it. But the man himself wanted peace.

August 24th, 2011 at 8:50 pm

Wow. I have always felt such an amazing and powerful presence on the playa, while dancing, riding my bike, laying out on the playa looking up at the stars or looking at some incredible art or performance. It’s so nice after so many years to read this story. I’m sure their spirits have been dancing with us all these years and those after us will someday do as well with our spirits. Thanks for this. It gives me an even more magical and lovely connection to this very special place I have called home for over 14 years. I will be dancing with you all in spirit! To all my relations!

August 25th, 2011 at 6:38 pm

I am indigenous, I sing reggae, and at center camp cafe in BRC you can witness this cosmic connection with the crowd. Thursday 2:15 – 3am Some need to see to believe. Come check out I&I mash up babylon confusion, open the star gate with frequencies from dub-hip hop- and real reggae chants!!!!!! RAZAMAN REGGAE BAM BAM

On i tunes–soundcloud–

peace n blessings every time—

August 25th, 2011 at 7:18 pm

there are a lot of problems with this article. i am pauite and have been a part of dance collective community for a long time. i’ve been indian longer. this is not wonderful. you have clearly misinformed your readers and perhaps you are confused. what you are asking for by way of the ghost dance is for all the slaughtered indians to come back and to kill all the white people. kinda ironic… and bad religious practices that aren’t yours to offer. that image you have posted there — those indians were killed shortly thereafter. if you want to know more legitimately, you should look it up– or ask an indian. you have people following you with this romantic idea that is just really dumb.

August 30th, 2011 at 3:38 pm

Could the Paiute people be invited in, for real, at the 2012 Burning Man, to talk, be heard, and guide us about the relationship to the land? Perhaps in some way related to the temple?

September 10th, 2011 at 5:18 pm
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October 20th, 2011 at 10:18 am

Don’t know about you, but I’ve been dancing for my culture’s destruction and the prairie’s return since I was a little kid. Been working extra hard on my bullet proof shirt for next year’s dance too. Shh don’t tell the BLM.

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May 27th, 2012 at 1:18 am

soo like IAM A REAL NATIVE AMERICAN BORN AND RAISED IN THE REAL CEREMONY CIRCLE, and i always thought burning man was a big ass party in the desert of hippys and people drinking using drugs,trying to do a ghost dance n be little flaky wana be indians not an actuall TRADITIONAL NATIVE AMERICAN CEREMONY becuase in reality native american ceremonies alcohol and drugs are banded and we forbid people from using them im from the northwest and im a full blooded cosalish native and im not knocking burning man im just curious as to what is it truly all about?

July 25th, 2012 at 2:18 pm
Flying Around:

it is nothing more than a breeding ritual for white devils

August 16th, 2012 at 10:43 am
im an asshole:

oh God….. or should i say mother earth? save it you uncordinated horrible dancing neo hippies.go save the world high on L

November 4th, 2012 at 1:14 pm

The birds of leaving call to us
Yet here we stand
Endowed with the fear of flight
The winds of change consume the land
While we remain
In the shadow of summers now past
When all the leaves
Have fallen and turned to dust
Will we remain
Entrenched within our ways?
The plague that moves throughout this land
Omen signs
In the shapes of things to come
Tomorrow’s child is the only child
Tomorrow’s child is the only child

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