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Ghost Dance shirt

Replica of a Lakota Ghost Dance Shirt, made by Marcella Le Beau of the Wounded Knee Survivors Association

Replica of a Lakota Ghost Dance Shirt, made by Marcella Le Beau of the Wounded Knee Survivors Association

This modern Lakota Ghost Dance Shirt is made of coarse undyed cream cotton with a triangular section around the neck rubbed with red clay. It has fringing along the bottom, cuffs, epaulets and around the edges of the red triangle. The shirt has been decorated with two ring –necked pheasant feathers at the sides and with ring-necked pheasant feathers and a strip of buffalo hide at the neck.
The shirt is a replica of an original Ghost Dance Shirt given back to the Lakota people of South Dakota by Glasgow City Council in August 1999. It was formally presented to Glasgow at a public hearing in November 1998 attended by the Lakota descendants of survivors of the massacre at Wounded Knee in December 1890.
In 1892, the City Industrial Museum obtained a number of items from George C. Crager, interpreter for the Lakota performers at the Buffalo Bull Wild West Show in Dennistoun. Crager claimed that these objects had been taken from the battlefield of Wounded Knee, South Dakota, 29th December 1890 including a Lakota Ghost Dance shirt. In 1999 this shirt was returned to the Lakota following Glasgow City Council’s approval of a repatriation request from the Wounded Knee Survivors Association.
Marcella LeBeau, a descendant of the Lakota warrior Rain-in-the Face, was Secretary of the Wounded Knee Survivors Association and was involved in the negotiations. In honour of Glasgow’s work she made this replica Ghost Dance Shirt. She used Treaty Cloth, ring-necked pheasant feathers from the South Dakota Plains and a buffalo hide strip and red clay from the Cheyenne River Reservation. Her son Richard LeBeau prepared the buffalo strip as well as the pheasant feathers. The original shirt is decorated with eagle feathers but these are now strictly reserved for sacred ceremonial use by indigenous people of the US only. The clay was donated by Bronco LeBeau, Director of the Cheyenne River Lakota Nation’s Cultural Preservation Programme.

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