Ghost Dances and Ring Shouts: Lakota and Gullah Nineteenth Century Musical Traditions in Comparative Perspective
de Bhaldraithe, Rónán
de Bhaldraithe, Ronan
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During the nineteenth century, as the United States established itself as a nation and expanded its territory, the cultures of Native Americans and African Americans went through a period of profound change. The Lakota, a Native American ethnic group from the Northern Plains region and the Gullah, an African American ethnic group in the South Carolina and Georgia Lowcountry and Sea Islands, were two such cultures. This thesis compares the role music played in Lakota and Gullah cultural change in the nineteenth century. In particular, this thesis focusses on the role both ethnic groups' musical traditions played in their relationship with Christianity in this period. The importance of music in Lakota and Gullah traditional religions placed their musical traditions at the centre of cultural change. Using a comparative perspective, this thesis highlights the differences in the responses of the Gullah and Lakota to this cultural change, and describes how wider events within the United States affected the relationship both groups had with Christianity and in turn how this affected their musical traditions. By contrasting the development of the Lakota Ghost Dance and the Gullah Ring Shout in the nineteenth century, this thesis highlights the role of syncretistic musical rituals in the formation of Lakota and Gullah Christianities after 1800.