The Ghost Dance movements of 1870 and 1890 were revitalistic or millennial expressions (crisis rites). The central theme was that if Natives danced (the round or circle dance) and prayed the world would return to a natural, unharmed state (before Euroamerican intrusion). The majority of anthropologists believe that the purpose of the dance was to bring back the dead (Native people and animals). The world would then return to the way it was before Euroamericans introduced their devastating diseases and destructive habits that nearly destroyed the Native Great Basin people – in essence a new heaven on earth. There were strong elements of rain shamanism, a theme of resurrection, eagle feather metaphors and white horse oral tradition inter-fingered into Ghost Dance lore.
In eastern California, a number of historic multicolored Native American rock paintings have been documented that are extraordinarily rich in imagery (including an extensive array of representational elements). These paintings are different than most conventional Numic paintings that are predominantly monochromatic, rendered in only red, abstract imagery. These rock paintings are a window into the worldview of Native people and provide some amazing insights into the religious meaning and metaphor of Ghost Dance religion and Numic (Great Basin Paiute Shoshone) cosmology.
New technology (D-stretch, computer aided color enhancements, deconstruction of superimposition, and color sequencing), has provided some new discoveries of the deeper meanings. This illumination has come from intense literature study and improved physical documentation.
Dr. Alan Garfinkel is a California and Great Basin anthropologist/archaeologist principally known for his work with the indigenous people of the Far West and for his studies of Native American rock art in California and the Great Basin. He is most well regarded for his pioneering studies in the regional prehistory of eastern California, the far southern Sierra Nevada, and southwestern Great Basin. He holds active research interests in forager ecology, Native American consultation in cultural resource management contexts, rock art studies, and peopling of the Americas. He is a recognized authority on the Coso Range Rock Art traditions and Coso Region prehistory in general. He received his
Bachelor’s at CSU, Northridge, and his MA and Ph.D. at the University of
California, Davis. His career includes stints with Far Western Anthropological
Research Group, Applied Earthworks, California Dept. of Parks & Recreation, Bureau
of Land Management, United States Forest Service, California Department of Transportation, Bakersfield Community College, and AECOM.
Dr. Garfinkel is currently Principal Archaeologist for UltraSystems Environmental, Inc. in charge of their work in the Western United States and Pacific Rim. Their corporate office is in Irvine, California. Garfinkel is also founder and director of the California Rock Art Foundation. - a not for profit, scientific and educational organization dedicated to the preservation of indigenous rock art resources in Alta and Baja California.
Dr. Garfinkel has authored five books including Prehistory of Kern County, Archaeology and Rock Art, and the Handbook of the Kawaiisu and has formally published over 50 scientific articles in various academic journals. He is the recipient of the 2008 and the 2011 California State Governor’s Award for Historic Preservation.
University of California Santa Cruz,
1156 High St, Santa Cruz, CA 95064
For more info, contact:
Taylor Ainslie, Graduate Program Coordinator for the Anthropology Department at UCSC,