Ghost Dance and Standing Rock Sioux

This contemporary civil rights movement is intertwined with millenarian religion, forming part of a cycle of resistance to American colonial domination through ritual and prayer from the 1890 Ghost Dance to the 1970s American Indian Movement to the protest camps at Standing Rock (2016-2017).

It is a recent example of indigenous resistance to ecological destruction, resource extraction, and political domination by the American state. More than an environmental stance, opposition to this pipeline is part of a decolonisation movement that aims to save Native American land from expropriation, their culture from appropriation, and their resources from exploitation. It is part of a larger civil rights movement for Native Americans.

The Sioux is a tribe spread throughout North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Montana, and Minnesota, as well as Canada. The Sioux are further subdivided in seven groups, known as seven council fires, or oceti sakowin, each with a different dialect of a common language. There are four main Lakota Sioux reservations in the US: Standing Rock, Rosebud, Cheyenne River, and Pine Ridge. They have resisted Euro-American rule since the westward expansion of European colonisers in the 1800s. These movements use prayer and dance as forms of religious action anticipating the end of the white colonial social order and the renewal of Native American ways of life. It is a way of reconnecting their community, revitalising their religion, and protesting against injustice.