Curtis Meyer, Reporter
The Native American Student Association (NASA) held a “Relearning Thanksgiving Dinner” at the Pitt State Alumni center. With free food that displayed the history and culture of Native Americans, there was plenty of opportunity to gain experience about some traditional Native American dishes.
“Tonight, we did a ‘Relearning Thanksgiving’ event, we just cooked traditional Native American foods. We had just a potluck style dinner, and just put some knowledge out there like on the history of the dishes, where they originate from, and like the traditions and history of Thanksgiving,” said Dakota Tomhave, President of NASA.
One of the dishes featured was Ghost Dance Soup, a dish similar to chili.
“We made a dish called Ghost Dance Soup, and that one’s probably one of my favorites. It actually goes with a traditional ceremony called the Ghost Dance ceremony. That was a ceremony created in the late 1800s by a vision from an elder. It was a vision that he had, doing this dance called the Ghost Dance, and it would bring back cultural balance. At this time, a lot of colonizing was going on and Indians were removed from their traditional lands, so like in this vision he saw that if we could do this dance and do this ceremony, we can bring spiritual balance back on Earth and restore our cultures and traditions,” said Tomhave
The Ghost Dance grew from a single Paiute prophet known as Wovoka. The Ghost Dance spread across the plains to several different tribes.
Originally part of a movement that called for peace amid rising tensions with white settlers and Natives, each tribe took the Ghost Dance and infused it with their own traditions, creating many versions of the same ceremony.
The Lakota tribe took the Ghost Dance and practiced it as a form of defiance when the government had banned many tribal ceremonies. Crafting shirts and dresses that were believed to have magical powers to make them bulletproof, tempers built as the white settlers and soldiers perceived the Ghost Dance as a threat.
The Ghost Dance movement ended after the Massacre at Wounded Knee. Gathering under Wovoka, the different tribes began to perform the dance, as Wovoka promised that it would bring an “end to the white man” and peace to the Native Americans.
The military and reservation police were summoned and interrupted the ceremony. Chief Sitting Bull was killed while being arrested. Several hundred Sioux left their reservation and were pursued by the military.
After peacefully surrendering, a young brave’s rifle went off, igniting a fight between the soldiers and possibly unarmed Indians. Over 200 men, women, and children were killed in one of the biggest tragedies of the Native American conflicts.
Today the Ghost Dance lives on in places where it is still performed and remembered. NASA seeks to spread more awareness about Native American customs wherever possible.
“The traditions and culture vary by tribe, so depending on what event we have planned and who’s organizing the event, we’ll just go off of their traditions. That’s the whole goal of the organization is just to spread awareness and acknowledgment and recognition on campus,” said Tomhave.
For students interested in joining NASA, meetings are held on Mondays at 4 p.m. For more information you can go to Gorilla Engage and see what other events are planned.
“It’s for all students you don’t have to be a Native American to join the organization. Just be willing to learn and be involved and be respectful of the different cultures,” said Tomhave.