Perhaps the largest Shamanistic group in today’s world, the Ghost Dancers have united various North American tribes into a cohesive whole. Forced to operate in secret for fear of government persecution since the 19th century, the Ghost Dancers have not forgotten Wounded Knee’s lesson.
The Prophets Wodziwob and Wovoka’s Vision unite the Ghost Dancers’ differing Nations. According to the Two Prophets’ teachings, if the Nations return to the Old Ways and learn to live in harmony with one another, a new Paradise on Earth will arise and a Golden Age will dawn for the Native Peoples. The buffalo will return, the dead will be reunited with the living, and the Whites will be forced east of the Mississippi, leaving the West for the Native Peoples.
Common Ghost Dancer members include Shamans, Medicine Men, and Braves. The Shamans use their natural psychic ability, knowledge of rituals, and magic to help their tribe. The Medicine Men have powerful Spirit Patrons who grant them special abilities. The Braves are usually Mundane warriors who protect the tribe. The Association also includes a sizeable Feral community, who enjoy playing tricks on friends and enemies alike. All Ghost Dancers are Native Americans.
By their nature, Shamanistic groups tend to operate like Solitaires. They are small and insular, and the Shaman only concerns himself with his particular village or tribe. This holds true of Shamans that band together in places like the Amazon or Australia. They are still basically Solitaires who have a loose and informal confederation with other Solitaires for mutual assistance purposes.
One Shaman visionary led to the creation of the Ghost Dancers as a true organization: the Prophet Wodziwob (Gray Hair). His teachings bind the Dancers together. The Prophet was a Walker Lake Paiute, who was also known as Fish Lake Joe. He led a reasonably normal existence until the Pine Harvest Festival in 1869. While attending this festival, the Paiute entered into a trance in which he had a vision of ascending to Kether and meeting the Creator. He was given a glimpse of an earthly paradise in which the dead returned to lands of the living and the White Man only settled east of the Mississippi. In this vision, the buffalo returned in great numbers, and the Native Americans returned to a harmonious existence with their environment.
The Creator promised Wodziwob that this Paradise would come to be if the People lived in peace and returned to the Old Ways. When the Vision ended, Wodziwob began preaching his new message in hopes of bringing about this revealed Paradise on Earth. His teachings spread from northern Nevada to California and then throughout the Great Basin. Wodziwob had an assistant named Tavibo who preached in Nevada and impressed his audience by controlling the weather. The original Ghost Dancer Movement was confined to Nevada and California until Tavibo’s son Wovoka also experienced the Vision.
Wovoka’s Vision took place on January 1, 1889, during a solar eclipse. He also ascended to Kether, where the Creator revealed to him Paradise on Earth. The living and dead Native Americans in a replenished West and the Europeans confined to the East. Wovoka spread his message throughout the American West. The Ghost Dancer Movement gained many converts from various Nations and the Association took root and flowered. Wovoka knew many Invocations, he taught Shielding and Empowerment to warrior Shamans from the Lakota and Arapahoe Nations. The Ghost Dancers used these Invocations to create Ghost Shirts, which made their warriors invulnerable to bullets, allowing them to stand against the White Man’s superior firepower.
One of Ghost Dancers’ converts was Tatanka Iyotaka, also known as Sitting Bull. Sitting Bull defeated Custer at Little Big Horn in 1876, but by 1890, he had surrendered himself to protect his people. Several years earlier, he toured with Buffalo Bill, making himself a sideshow attraction in hopes that he could somehow prevent the United States from taking drastic measures against his Nation and his People. This was an act of desperation and it failed. Sitting Bull regained hope when he became a Ghost Dancer in 1890.
Within a few months of Wovoka’s Vision, the Ghost Dancers were on the verge of winning a mostly non-violent revolution against the United States through the use of Shamanistic Invocations. The Ghost Dancers’ success concerned the Cabal and they quickly got involved, turning the tide against the Native American group. The bulletproof Ghost Shirts and other Invocations ceased working. Red Tomahawk and Bullhead, Indian police and Cabal pawns, murdered Sitting Bull. Afterwards, many Ghost Dancers were hunted down and slaughtered. The Ghost Dancers gathered at Wounded Knee on December 28, 1890. The Seventh Cavalry surrounded the group and on the next day ordered the surrender of all rifles. One of the Ghost Dancers, a deaf young man named Black Coyote, did not hear the command and held his rifle high. Because of this, the Seventh Cavalry massacred every man, woman, and child at Wounded Knee, killing 153 people that day and wounding many more who later died, as well. In contrast, the soldiers only lost 25 men and had 39 wounded, mostly by friendly fire. Before 1890 ended, the Ghost Dancers had been completely wiped out.
At least, the Cabal and the rest of America believed them all destroyed. They were wrong. The Ghost Dancers still existed. The tragedy at Wounded Knee just forced them underground. By working in secret, they survived into the next century. While their public revolution resoundingly failed, the Ghost Dancers still clung to their Vision. By the end of the 20th century, their numbers swelled to their original numbers and included Shamans and representatives from almost every Native American Nation in North America.
he most important thing to the Ghost Dancers. The Creator promised the Two Prophets that the People could achieve this Paradise if they lived in peace and harmony and returned to the Old Ways. In this Paradise, the dead and the living would reunite, the buffalo would return to the plains, and the White Man would leave the West and settle east of the Mississippi. The People would at last be at peace. If this happened, it would truly be Heaven on Earth.
Of course, the Promise is conditional. It can only happen if the Nations keep their side of the bargain: they must return to the Old Ways. This means no more alcohol, cable TV, or McDonalds. Completely returning to the Old Ways is very difficult to accomplish in the modern world. Caught up in the modern world’s distractions, the People find the return to the Old Ways more difficult than rebuilding the organization after the massacre at Wounded Knee. The People, as a whole, continue to forget their stories, traditions, and language.
But Ghost Dancers will not let the Dream die. It is too important to them. They teach their ancestors’ language, they recite the old stories, and they struggle to convert the People to the Old Ways. The Ghost Dancers will do whatever it takes to claim the Paradise promised them. And this time, they will not let the Cabal destroy their Dream before it takes root.
The Ghost Dancers are a loose organization, much like the Wicce and the Legbans, who hold a similar outlook and philosophy. Most members of the Covenant live on the reservations and it is on the Rez that their influence is strongest. Still, the Ghost Dancers are not completely unknown in the city. Native American communities exist everywhere, though maintaining the Old Ways in an urban environment is almost impossible. It is also important to note that a Ghost Dancer Shaman who operates in an urban environment is not an Urban Shaman. Urban Shamans are Solitaires who improvise a lot of their magic, and they do not necessarily keep to the Old Ways. The Ghost Dancers do not approve of the Urban Shaman’s outlook.
There are three different Ghost Dancer types: Braves, Medicine Men and Women, and Shamans.
The Ghost Dancers’ Braves consist mostly of Mundane warriors, though some Gifted and Supernaturals fill their ranks. They practice war and have mastered the spear and the bow. however the Braves are faced with a paradox. The Creator’s promised Paradise on Earth would come when the Nations lived in peace and returned to the Old Ways, but the Braves, by definition, are not peaceful. Even though they use violence only in extreme circumstances, the fact that they are warriors violates the Creator’s Promise. While the Braves learn the Old Ways like other Ghost Dancers, and use the weapons of old the spear and the bow, in the modern world those weapons just do not cut it when you face genetically and mechanically augmented enemies or powerful supernatural threats. So when dealing with Tainted beings or Cabal agents, the Braves use modern weapons to accomplish their goals. Even though modern weapons are definitely not part of the Old Ways.
As Ghost Dancers, the Braves follow an altered version of the Vision, one that first spread among the Plains Indians in the last decades of the 19th century. In this version of the Vision, the People push the White Man off the continent and the Nations regain control of the land. To them, the Creator’s mandate to live in peace only applies to living in peace with other Nations, meaning the Crow, Black Foot, Lakota, Navajo, and Apaches must forget their differences and come together as brothers.
The Medicine Men and Women are those who receive their powers through Spirit Patrons. Most of them were not born Gifted. The spirits chose them, usually during a Vision Quest, and imbued them with magical powers. The Medicine Men deal with things on a local level. Their concern is for their own community only. Medicine Men and Women rarely leave the Rez and they have little contact with the outside world.
The Shamans are the Gifted members of the Ghost Dancers. They are powerful workers of magic and some even exhibit the same powers as the Two Prophets. Like the Medicine Men, Shamans serve their community’s needs, but they also aid the world as a whole. Some Shamans even wander across the globe, looking for signs of supernatural activity or Cabal’s interference. Shamans often work with the Braves, and those with the proper training create Ghost Shirts for the Braves to wear. Some Shamans try to follow the promise of the Prophets’ Vision, living in peace and harmony with everyone, but some follow the Braves’ revisionist beliefs, believing that living in peace does not extend to the White Man.
A Council of Elders leads the Ghost Dancers. These thirteen leaders include members from various Nations across North America, mainly in the United States and Canada. The Council includes a Mexican Zapatista, as well. The Council meets in secret somewhere in the Otherworld, where its members confer with Ancestor Spirits and the Two Prophets. The Ghost Dancers also hold a mandatory Pow Wow once a year. Located in a different North American place every year, the Pow Wow is a time of celebration and planning.
The Ghost Dancers are more unified then most Shamanistic groups. The Braves are notoriously intolerant of outsiders and the Ferals are notoriously open-minded.
The Wicce and the Ghost Dancers have a great relationship for the most part. They have similar attitudes in their approach to Magic, and both hold a deep reverence for Nature. They both have ties to environmental groups and social activists, and both Covenants have similar goals. But the Wicce also have strong ties to the New Age Movement. This means that the Wicce associate with people who trivialize the Old Ways, turn the Sacred Places of Power into tourist attractions, and blithely declare themselves Shamans of their own “Indian Tribes.” Some Ghost Dancers find this cultural disrespect hard to ignore and this often affects the Covenant’s relationship with the Wicce. Usually, only the Braves blame the Wicce for other peoples’ actions; most Ghost Dancers get along with the Wicce just fine.
The Sentinels are associated with missionaries and the attempted destruction of Native American culture in the minds of the Ghost Dancers. The Dancers try to avoid the Inspired Monster Killers whenever possible. The Sentinels are not really aware of the Ghost Dancers’ full strength. They tend to think of the Dancers as a Solitaire group allied with the Wicce.
The Brotherhood of Legba and the Ghost Dancers are strong allies. The Legbans’ Voodoo and the Ghost Dancers’ Shamanism have a lot in common, and the Legbans show proper respect to the nature spirits the Dancers revere. The majority of Ghost Dancers think of the Legbans as allies who cover geographic areas where their own influence is weak.
Most Ghost Dancers view the Nomads as fellow nature servants, something akin to the Animal Spirit Nations in the First World. As the Ghost Dancers have Ferals and Shapeshifters among them, this strengthens the bond between the two groups.
Most Ghost Dancers believe that the Creator empowered the Mockers to aid them in ensuring the Uktena never returns. As such, the Ghost Dancers consider them to be Holy People. Of course, most Mockers do not even know the Ghost Dancers exist.
Skills and Abilities
All Ghost Dancers learn the Ritual skill. Many members also have the Occult Knowledge Skill, specializing in nature spirits. Other common skills include Traditional Native American Dance, Native American Myth and Legend, Storytelling, and Unconventional Medicine.
As part of keeping the Old Ways, many Ghost Dancers have learned their Nation’s native language. Ghost Dancer children grow up speaking their ancestors’ tongue, but members who join the Association as adults must learn to speak their ancestral language.
In order to keep to the Old Ways and live in harmony with the land, most Ghost Dancers know a number of wilderness survival skills. Warrior types also know how to use traditional weapons and they have the appropriate Hand Weapon skills, such as Axe, Knife, Spear, and Bow, in addition to other combat skills.
Most Ghost Dancers are either Gifted Shamans or Medicine Men who receive their powers through Spirit Patrons. Shamans may incorporate any combination of magic, but most have several Invocations and one or more psychic Powers.
Some Ghost Dancers, either inborn Ferals or humans with the Skin-Changer Quality, can walk in the shape of their animal spirit. All Ghost Dancer Ferals, unlike some Ferals, have control over their shape changes and behavior during those changes.
The Ghost Dancers are one of the few groups where a person’s career and metaphysical calling are one and the same: a Shaman gets paid to be a Shaman. Of course, being a Shaman on the Rez is not a financially lucrative job. Fortunately, the Ghost Dancers are not materialistic.
Other Ghost Dancers use their knowledge to supplement more mundane occupations. Many Shamans use their healing knowledge to work as doctors, nurses, or paramedics. Some Ghost Dancers use their historical knowledge to work as historians, cultural anthropologists, or writers. Quite a few Ghost Dancers have Artistic Talent and try to preserve the Old Ways through art and music. Finally, some Ghost Dancers fight for the Native Peoples’ rights in the courtroom as lawyers or as activists, seeking to preserve the traditional lands.