Sioux Ghost Dance Drum

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This drum was crafted with a sturdy wooden frame and then covered in Bison hide, which is stretched and held taut by animal sinew. The likeness of a bison has been painted in black upon the drum’s top, with a four-pointed star crowning the bison between its horns. The drum measures 17″ across its top and 2.75″ high. It was crafted by a member of the Sioux people in the late 19th century, likely sometime in the 1890’s, and meant for ceremonial use during the Ghost Dance. Drums like this one became common after European settlers had begun to move further west.

There were many different ceremonial dances amidst the many different Native American tribes. Two of the most widespread and well known, were the Sun Dance and the Ghost Dance. The former of these was the far more religious of the two in its nature. The ceremonial Sun Dance was performed as way of reconnecting fellow tribes with one another, as well as acknowledging healing, bravery, and the spirits. The Ghost Dance was not so much a religious ceremony as a form of protest. This dance was invented at some point in 1889, after many Native American tribes had been pushed out of their homes and sent further west. Performing the dance was looked at as a form of prayer, wherein those partaking would cry out for a return to their ancestral homes and ask for an end to the expansion of European settlers. Although the dance was originally intended to bring tribes together in remembrance of their fallen warriors, it was adopted by the Sioux tribes to invoke millenarianism. The hope in performing this dance was ultimately to begin the reclaiming of The Great Plaines. Performing both the Sun Dance and the Ghost Dance was highly discouraged by the United States government, until participation in either was made illegal in 1904.

Item #: 0027