James Mooney and the Ghost Dance Jul 30, 2008 9:15:36 GMT -5
Post by liverpoolannie on Jul 30, 2008 9:15:36 GMT -5
I thought this was very interesting .... even though I had seen the photos before ... it made me look at them a little differently !
James Mooney and the Ghost Dance
In the summer of 1890, James Mooney was making plans to go to Oklahoma Territory to continue his study of the Cherokee. During his preparations, news of the Ghost Dance movement reached Washington, including its spread to Indian Territory--the western part of modern Oklahoma--and he asked for and received permission to change topics (Mooney 1896:653). Mooney arrived in Indian Territory in December 1890; by the time he reached the Darlington agency, headquarters of the Cheyennes and Arapahos, towards the end of the month, "the ground was covered deeply with snow, which stopped the dancing for several weeks" (1896:923). During the interval, "after having obtained their confidence, the Arapaho police [including Watonga 'Black Coyote', chief of the Agency police, and Cedar Tree, a policeman] invited me to come up to their camp at night to hear them practice the songs in anticipation of better weather for dancing. . . . Rehearsals were held in Black Coyote's tipi almost every night until the snow melted" (1896:918); then, "When the snow melted, the dances were renewed." (1896:923).
From his letters back to the Bureau, it is known that Mooney was with the Arapahos through the end of January, when he visited Anadarko, returning to Darlington in the middle of February. In early March he visited Eufala, returning to Darlington in May. He returned to Washington in late July or early August.
Based on the evidence of the photographs, e. g., the lack of leaves on the trees, most of his photographs of the Arapaho Ghost Dances were taken in late January or February, 1891. Again, based on the evidence of the photographs, during those periods, Mooney photographed at least two, perhaps three, Arapaho Ghost Dance events. Based on his letters, at least one of these events occurred January 25, 1891: on January 27, a Tuesday, Mooney wrote to Henry Henshaw, "Sunday [i.e. two days previous, the 25th] counted at one time 139 dancers, besides outside spectators with 26 others inside the circle--some in a manic frenzy, some in spasms and others stretched out on the ground stiff and unconscious" (Mooney to Henshaw, 27 Jan 1891). In his letters during the following months, he made no further reference to having seen any other dances; the clear implication is that the primary Ghost Dance photographs were made no later than early February 1891. Mooney returned to Indian Territory in the fall of 1893 to observe and photograph the Arapaho Sun Dance of that year, postponed from the summer because of farm duties.