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How to stimulate your own powers of foresight. Consider the following thought provokers. Ask yourself, in these categories what are the brand new trends and forces? Which are the ones growing in importance? Which current forces are loosing their steam? Which have peaked or are reversing themselves? Which are the "wildcards" about to disrupt us in the future? POLITICAL AND TECHNICAL thought for food: Electronics, Materials, Energy, Fossil, Nuclear, Alternative, Other, Manufacturing (techniques), Agriculture, Machinery and Equipment, Distribution, Transportation (Urban, Mass, Personal, Surface, Sea, Subsurface, Space), Communication (Printed, Spoken, Interactive, Media), Computers (Information, Knowledge, Storage & Retrieval, Design, Network Resources), Post-Cold War, Third World, Conflict (Local, Regional, Global), Arms Limitation, Undeclared Wars, Terrorism, Nuclear Proliferation, Weapons of Mass Destruction, Governments (More/Less Power and Larger or Smaller Scale), Taxes, Isms: Nationalism, Regionalism, Protectionism, Populism, Cartels, Multinational Corporations, Balance of Trade, Third Party Payments, Regulations (OSHA, etc.) Environmental Impact, U.S. Prestige Abroad. SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC Food for thought: Labor Movements, Unemployment / Employment Cycles, Recession, Employment Patterns, Work Hours / Schedules, Fringe Benefits, Management Approaches, Accounting Policies, Productivity, Energy Costs, Balance of Payments, Inflation, Taxes, Rates of Real Growth, Distribution of Wealth, Capital Availability and Costs, Reliability of Forecasts, Raw Materials, Availability and Costs, Global versus National Economy, Market versus Planned Economies, Generations: Y, X, Boomers, Elderly, Urban vs. Rural Lifestyles, Affluent vs. Poor, Neighborhoods and Communities, Planned or Organic Growth. Got Knowledge?

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The Journal of 2020 Foresight
Monday, December 20, 2004  

The Fish-Eating Messiah and the Ghost Dancing Horse

Chapter Three: The Outpost

By Steve Howard, CKO
The Knowledge Labs

Table of Contents
Chapter One: Basecamp
Chapter Two: The Ridge
Chapter Three: The Outpost
Chapter Four: The Tribal Territories

“Like other great pairings in American history, ranging from Mason and Dixon to Simon and Garfunkel, the names of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark are welded together as a single phrase. But some of the most vivid and resonant episodes in Clark's life took place long before and long after the vaunted Lewis and Clark expedition."

Jonathan Kirsch


Journal of 2020 Foresight: Waiting. Seems that's all I do on this trip. Delays and waiting. I meander through the lobby doubling as antique shop, back to my room. Obviously the guys didn't get their wake-up call. Bing. My email beckons me. It's from Tricky1_380. Then my phone rings. “Where are you?” Since, my gear's already in the SUV, it doesn't take me long to join the others waiting in the parking lot.

Pathfinder: Tricky1_380, is that an alias for Grey Owl?

Eagle: Or for Coyote, the Trickster?

J2020F: Not sure why he chose his name, but he posed a question about vitality and I said I'd get your opinions.

Explorer: Here's one of my favorite Mark Twain quotes: "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."

Pathfinder: People who exude vitality take the time to reflect on the mysteries of life. They shift course if need be, and actively pursue their own passion in the special part of the world that brings out the best imaginable in them. Did he say purpose, passion, curiosity, energy, illumination? I'd add those components.

Eagle: I'm liking the Coyote angle. Trickster tales. He's probably the most vital in Native American mythology. He's an imp and a hero. Many times he's the great culture bringer who can also “make mischief beyond belief, turning quickly from clown to creator and back again.”

J2020F: Coyote also shows up in Joseph Campbell's work on the meanings of myth.

Pathfinder: Yeah, there's a kind of spontaneity. A mischievous creative spark coupled with a twist. A clown with a deeper story - easily overlooked.

Eagle: In “American Indian Myths and Legends” by Richard Erdoes and Alfonso: “The Sioux medicine man Lame Deer said, 'Coyote, Iktome, and all clowns are sacred. They are a necessary part of us. A people who have so much to cry about as Indians do also need their laughter to survive.'”

Pathfinder: Yeah, that's what I mean.

Explorer: Like Rodney Dangerfield? He gets no respect, but life's little nuggets shine through his comedy.

J2020F: And like the story of Walker Lake Lodge.

Eagle: Huh?

J2020F: Who was the Rodney Dangerfield of fur trapping mountain men? Yet, who ended up with a lake, a river and a Paiute Indian Reservation named after him? And who got very little credit for opening up this three-county region for hundreds of thousands of pioneers? Joe, that's who.

Eagle: Joe who?

J2020F: Joe Walker, like Jedediah Smith roamed the West for 50 years trapping furs.

Eagle: And?

Explorer: And, it wasn't Smith or Fremont, the better-known trailblazers, who discovered the critically important route, in 1832, that turned out to be the only practical route to California. “Hundreds of thousands of pioneers (two years after the 1830 Pre-Emption Act gave settlers the right to purchase 160 acres of public land) would follow his footsteps to the golden state. Nearly a half-century later, the transcontinental railroad-seeking the best route west-would lay their tracks directly on top of Joe Walker's trail to California.”

Eagle: No way. What a coincidence. This is something the Trickster or Coyote would do.

J2020F: What?

Eagle: According to Dee Brown, eleven Sioux cooled their heals at Walker Lake waiting for the Messiah to receive them in 1890, after they road the Iron Horse on a four-day trip to Pyramid Lake.

Explorer: So this is what you were saying the other day - how the transcontinental railroad built over Walker's trail set in motion a chain of events that culminated with a dancing horse and the demise of Sitting Bull?

J2020F: And by 1890, by extension the Western Frontier came to an end?

Eagle: That's right.

J2020F: How?

Eagle: You mean how-did-it-come-about, rather than the cheesy movie Indian greeting, right?

J2020F: Enough. And, by the way how many Rodney Dangerfield explorers can we have - we have one by sea (Charles Wilkes) and now one by land (Walker).

Explorer: I thought it was one if by land and two if by sea :>)

Eagle: Never mind. If I had a map I could show you and then describe how,

Pathfinder: If we revisit the 1895 map of Nevada, you can scroll down along the right hand side. California borders on the far left of a thick red border, Nevada lies to the right sectioned off in color-coded counties.

J2020F: So, where did all this take place?

Eagle: Look at that yellow sliver, Washoe County, sandwiched between California and Humboldt County in pink. The lower left hand corner of Humboldt County points to Pyramid Lake. It's the largest lake entirely within the state 32 miles long and about 12 miles wide, northeast of Reno within the Pyramid Lake Indian Reservation." The Pyramid Lake Paiute were known as the Cui Ui Ticutta. They're all descendents of Stone Mother, who left footprints along Mono Lake.

Pathfinder: "Captain Fremont, whose discoveries overshadowed Charles Wilkes, named Pyramid Lake for the sharp island that juts 475 feet above the water. Anaho Island, a federal bird sanctuary, provides a breeding ground for more than 10,000 white pelicans.”

Eagle: Now, scroll down further to the second pink county - Esmeralda County. Up in the northern section you can see the Walker River Indian Reservation and the Lake.

Pathfinder: Walker Lake, in the bleak desert near what is Hawthorne today, contrasts with Lake Tahoe, the year-round resort that Nevada shares with California, almost due east.

Eagle: Here's what happened, according to “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee.” In October of 1890 after nearly three decades of Indian Wars, after Sitting Bull's return from Canada, his infamous speech, cursing all whites in his native tongue, in 1883 for the Northern Pacific Railroad's celebration commemorating the driving of the last spike in its transcontinental track, and after his triumphant theatrical tour with Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show, he receives Kicking Bear, a Miniconjou from the Cheyenne River agency.

Explorer: Oh, I remember now. This is about the Ghost Dance and the panic it triggered throughout the West, right?

Eagle: That's right. You see, Kicking Bear brought news of the Paiute Messiah, Wovoka, a mere five or six year old when Mark Twain roamed Esmeralda County, his place of birth in 1856, who had founded the religion of the Ghost Dance.

Pathfinder: Were they there to try to convert Sitting Bull into this hybrid religion?

Eagle: Actually, Sitting Bull had heard of their pilgrimage and sent for Kicking Bear and his brother, Short Bull to learn more. He was no stranger to visions, as he had experienced a few in his day.

J2020F: Both he and Crazy Horse foresaw a way to defeat the US Calvary converging on their camp in Rosebud Creek, right?

Eagle: His last vision occurred some time in 1885. In it a meadowlark told him, “"Your own people, Lakotas, will kill you."

Explorer: Hybrid religion?

Eagle: As the eventual panic ensued, a former Indian agent, Dr. Valentine McGillycuddy, was sent to make recommendations for a resolution of the difficulties. “'I should let the dance continue,' McGillycuddy said. 'The coming of the troops has frightened the Indians." "If the Seventh-Day Adventists prepare their ascension robes for the second coming of the Savior, the United States Army is not put in motion to prevent them. He asked, “Why should not the Indians have the same privilege?”

Pathfinder: Clearly a minority opinion, right?

Eagle: No whites, especially those in power, saw the Ghost Dance religion as a version of the Christian Book of Revelations taught by the variety of religious sects drawn to Nevada, and reinterpreted through the powerful Native American dream state or vision. They only feared another blood bath waiting to happen.

J2020F: So, Sitting Bull listens to their story.

Eagle: That's right. He hears Kicking Bear describe how a voice had commanded him to go forth and meet the ghosts of Indians who were to return and inhabit earth.

Pathfinder: And after a 30-year campaign to move or exterminate the tribes in the West, that message must have resonated with Sitting Bull.

Eagle: More so with all the rest of the Sioux who had survived the great battles - mostly widowers, mothers and children. But, Sitting Bull, skeptical that ancestors could return to this earthly plane as was prophesized by Wakova, decided not to stand in the way.

J2020F: Of course, then he'd have to change his name to Standing Bull, not Sitting Bull.

Eagle: Moving right along. The “pilgrims” mount horses, supplied by Indians they had never met before, at the end of the railroad tracks and ride for four more days to the land of the “Fish Eaters,” the Paiutes at Pyramid Lake.

Explorer: Fish Eaters, eh?

Eagle: Right. The Fish Eaters tell the eleven Indians that Christ had returned to earth again. In fact, they claim Christ must have sent for them to come there, Kicking Bear said -- it was foreordained.

J2020F: So, they encounter Wavoka in Pyramid Lake?

Eagle: No, they waited nearby at Walker Lake for two days along with hundreds of other Indians like them - all speaking “in dozens of different tongues.” He showed up the next night.

Explorer: Sounds like a fundamentalist revival in some respects, yet different in others, right?

Eagle: Surprising at any rate.

Pathfinder: What do you mean?

Eagle: In the early evening shadows, even with a huge fire lit to illuminate the area, it was hard to make out the Messiah's features. “Kicking Bear had always thought that Christ was a white man like the missionaries, but this man looked like an Indian.”

J2020F: How did he address the hundreds who had gathered?

Eagle: Before dancing The Ghost Dance well into the night, he said “'I have sent for you and glad to see you, I am going to talk to you after a while about your relatives who are dead and gone. My children, I want you to listen to all I have to say to you....”

Explorer: For Kicking Bear and his brother that night must have been transformational.

Eagle: Dee Brown says, “Next morning, Kicking Bear and the others went up close to the Messiah to see if he had the scars of crucifixion which the missionaries on the reservations had told them about.”

Explorer: So they wanted to believe, but were still skeptical? They probably didn't know quite what to believe.

Eagle: Most likely, "There was a scar on his wrist and one on his face, but they could not see his feet, because he was wearing moccasins. Through the day he talked to them.

Pathfinder: About what?

Eagle: Here's the gist of it, according to Dee Brown. “In the beginning, he said, God made the earth, and then sent the Christ to earth to teach the people, but white men had treated him badly, leaving scars on his body, and so he had gone back to heaven.”

Explorer: A slight twist on the missionaries' teachings - one, given events and broken treaties between the 1860s and 1890s, that would make sense to the multitude gathered at Walker Lake.

Eagle: “Now he had returned to earth as an Indian, and he was to renew everything as it used to be and make it better. In the next springtime, when the grass was knee high, the earth would be covered with new soil which would bury all white men, and the new land would be covered with sweet grass and running water and trees.”

J2020F: Seems like a variation of Noah's Ark.

Eagle: Yes, and here's one of the key parts: “Great herds of buffalo and wild horses would come back…. The Indians who danced the Ghost Dance would be taken up in the air and suspended there while a wave of new earth was passing, and then they would be set down among the ghosts of their ancestors on the new earth, where only Indians would live.”

Explorer: Up in the air? Like Shakers' second coming or Seventh-Day Adventists?

Eagle: Well, according to Brown they traveled by horseback to the train. “As they rode along, the Messiah flew above them in the air, teaching them songs for the new dance. At the railroad, he left them, telling them to return to their people and teach what they had learned. When the next winter was passed, he would bring the ghosts of their fathers to meet them in a new resurrection.”

J2020F: Very powerful.

Eagle: Especially to the Sioux survivors on the Dakota reservations. One band danced until they fainted - mostly women - because they wanted their dead warrior husbands, brothers, and sons back.

Pathfinder: You said Sitting Bull didn't buy the whole story, but didn't object to the dancing on the reservations - but he had his own reservations.

J2020F: No pun intended, eh?

Eagle: Word was out that Indian agents were bringing soldiers to stop the dancing - and the Indians were fearful that if they didn't dance they would miss the resurrection. Sitting Bull could see the perfect storm brewing.

Explorer: Wasn't there also something about magic shirts or something?

Eagle: Oh, yes thanks. Ghost Shirts painted with magic symbols. Kicking Bear assured Sitting Bull that bullets would bounce off of them.

J2020F: And what about the dancing horse?

Eagle: That's all about how Buffalo Bill comes into the picture.

Pathfinder: Buffalo Bill, how?

Eagle: Almost every western reservation, by now practiced the Ghost Dance. The white settlers, miners, Indian agents, and soldiers - all of them began to expect the worst. In order to come to some kind of peaceful solution, the government even turned to Sitting Bull's friend, Cody, to intervene.

Explorer: What was Cody's connection to Sitting Bull?

Eagle: Sitting Bull had become a celebrity by the 1890s. Reporters sought him out to get his opinion on the Indian situation. He had traveled as one of the most popular performers in Cody's show. He even keynoted the historical transcontinental railroad ceremony.

Explorer: So, cooler heads prevailed as a result?

Eagle: Hardly. Indian agents turned Cody away. Dee Brown wrote: “Just before daybreak on December 15, 1890, forty-three Indian police surrounded Sitting Bull's log cabin. Three miles away a squadron of cavalry waited as a support if needed."

Pathfinder: They came to arrest him, right?

Eagle: Yes, but a crowd of Ghost Dancers gathered at the cabin's porch. Brown says they outnumbered the police four to one.

J2020F: A confrontation ensued?

Eagle: I'll say. Sitting Bull resisted. He didn't want to mount his horse.

J2020F: His dancing horse?

Eagle: That's right. Brown describes what happens next in the middle of the early morning chaos. “At this moment, Catch-the-Bear threw off his blanket and brought up a rifle. He fired at Bull Head, wounding him in the side."

Explorer: So Sitting Bull escapes?

Eagle: No. "As Bull Head fell, he tried to shoot his assailant, but the bullet struck Sitting Bull through his head and killed him.”

J2020F: By accident, he murders Sitting Bull? The dancers must have gone berserk.

Eagle: Except for what seemed like a mystical, miraculous moment.

Pathfinder: What do you mean?

Eagle: Well, remember Sitting Bull performed every night with his horse across the United States and Canada, but after the season ended Buffalo Bill gave him two farewell presents - “a huge white sombrero and a performing horse. The horse had been trained to sit down and raise one hoof at the crack of a gunshot.”

Explorer: At the crack of a gunshot?

Eagle: Yup. “During the firing, the old show horse that Buffalo Bill had presented to Sitting Bull began to go through his tricks. He sat upright, raised one hoof, and it seemed to those who watched that he was performing the Dance of the Ghosts.”

J2020F: Mark my words, that's not all for this general area's place in Wild West history.

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