Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Cooper, Martha, 1954-

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Communication Studies


Ghost dance; Dakota Indians--Religion


The Ghost Dance Movement of 1890 as it was adapted by the Sioux was a social movement aimed at the revitalization of their culture. The Sioux were a strong and proud people prior to their subjugation on reservations. There they faced forced acculturation, mistreatment, and starvation. The Ghost Dance Movement provided hope of a new world where the Sioux could live as before with an abundance of game and free from white interference. The Ghost Dance Movement triggered a tragic series of events, resulting in the Wounded Knee Massacre. This thesis undertakes the task of determining what rhetorical factors influenced the development of the Ghost Dance Movement among the Sioux and how those factors resulted in the Wounded Knee Massacre. The Ghost Dance Movement among the Sioux is identified as a revital ization movement and Wallace's stages of revitalization are utilized to provide a framework for the description of the movement and a method for determining the rhetorical pivots of the Movement; Fantasy-theme analysis is used to uncover the predominant rhetorical visions of each culture prior to and throughout the Ghost Dance Move ment. This analysis shows that the conflicting rhetorical visions fed upon each other until they were so militant and separate that violence was inevitable. This study provides a methodology which can help future study of revitalization movements, as well as guide the development of active revitalization movements.


Includes bibliographical references (pages 170-176)


v, 176 pages




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