Wilson, Jack "Wovoka"
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Time Period
1856  - 1932
A Paiute Indian, Wovoka (1856-1932) took on the name Jack Wilson after he began living with the Wilson family as a teenager.

In the 1880s, Wovoka began to make prophecies about how the whites would vanish and Indians would live in abundance. He revived the mystical Ghost Dance, a ritual described as putting participants in a trance-like state. The new Ghost Dance movement spread to other tribes -- as did the popularity of Wovoka. Followers began to call him "the messiah."

While Wovoka was a pacifist, his prophecies became distorted in their retellings as a call for revenge -- particularly among the Sioux. Tensions escalated, culminating in 1890 with the death of some 200 Lakota Sioux men, women and children by U.S. Calvary at Wounded Knee, S.D.

Wovoka’s notoriety diminished after the Wounded Knee Massacre and he lived his later years under the identity of Jack Wilson.
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Wovoka charcoal drawing- BAE GN 01659B 06285700, National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution

Wovoka (Jack Wilson)- Wikimedia Commons
Book/Journal Source(s)
Jenkins, Philip , 2004. Dream Catchers: How Mainstream America Discovered Native Spirituality. New York: Oxford University Press.
Web Source(s)
Encyclopedia Britannica, "Wovoka: American Indian Prophet"
PBS, "Wovoka, Jack Wilson (c. 1856-1932)"
United States History, "Wovoka"
Web Page Contributor
Sandi Dolbee
Affliated with: Former Religion and Ethics Editor, The San Diego Union-Tribune

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