The Truth About Power: Memory, Institutions, and the 1890 Ghost Dance

Tiffany Hale, American Philosophical Society

Friday, February 22, 2018


Classroom 2, Penn Museum

Brown Bag Lecture - Please Bring a Lunch

The U.S. Army classified Native Americans into two categories during the late nineteenth century: hostile and friendly. These categories attempted to make fluid conceptions of identity and agency into fixed, governable subsets of the U.S. population. Dr. Hale's work situates the use of these categories with respect to larger discourses of savagery and civilization and describes how anxiety over the maintenance of this binary inspired the state to panic when confronted with the range of native spiritual practices known as the 1890 Ghost Dance.

Through an examination of newspapers, government documents, personal correspondence, and ethnographic interviews, Hale reconstructs a social history of religious participation in the ghost dance to understand how Native communities adapted to, evaded, and undermined attempts at conquest. In this talk, Hale argues that not only did the categories of hostile and friendly catalyze indigenous resistance to state domination, they continue to shape public memory of the movement and the massacre that attempted to end it.

All events are sponsored, in part, by the PoGo Family Foundation.