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Ghost Dance Dress

Catalogue Description:
This work by the Salish, French-Cree, and Shoshone artist Jaune Quick-to-See Smith explores the challenges of Native American coexistence with American culture. The Plains woman’s dress featured prominently in the painting is worn by those in the Ghost Dance Religion to recall the vision of John Wilson (better known as Wovoka), who prophesied that white people would vanish and Native Americans would return to take back the land that was once theirs. The religious movement offered hope to many homeless, ill, and hungry Native Americans, and its message and surrounding tensions are, according to the artist, conveyed through various elements in this work: the eagle appears as a messenger of the prophecy; bingo cards are meant to represent the Catholic Church’s introduction of gambling to reservations; and written texts convey the “Queen of Hearts” children’s rhyme, a reference to power.


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