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Wovoka

From Academic Kids

Wovoka (~1856-September 20, 1932), also known as Jack Wilson, was a Northern Paiute religious leader and founder of the Ghost Dance movement. Wovoka means "wood cutter" in the Northern Paiute language.

Wovoka was born in the Smith Valley area southeast of Carson City, Nevada, around the year 1856. Wovoka's father may have been Numu-Taibo ("white person"), a religious leader whose teachings were similar to those of Wovoka. Regardless, Wovoka clearly had some training as a shaman. Wovoka's father died around the year 1870, and he was taken in by David Wilson, who was a rancher in the Yerington, Nevada area. Wovoka worked on the Wilson ranch, and used the name Jack Wilson in his dealings with whites. David Wilson was a devout Christian, and Wovoka learned christian theology and bible stories while living with him.

In his early adulthood, Wovoka gained a reputation as a powerful shaman. He was adept at magic tricks. One trick he often performed was being shot with a shotgun, which may have been similar to the bullet catch trick. Reports of this trick may have convinced the Lakota that their "ghost shirts" could stop bullets. Wovoka is also reported to have performed a levitation trick.

In early 1889 Wovoka proclaimed that he had a prophetic vision during the solar eclipse on January 1 of that year. Wovoka vision entailed the resurrection of the Paiute dead and the removal of whites and their works from North America.To bring this vision to pass, Wovoka taught that they must live righteously and perform a round dance, known as the "ghost dance". Wovoka's teachings spread quickly among many Native American peoples, notably including the Lakota. The Ghost Dance movement is perhaps best known for its role in the Wounded Knee Massacre.

Wovoka died in Yerington on September 20, 1932.

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