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Ghost Dancing: Sacred Medicine and the Art of JD Challenger, text by Edwin Daniels, paintings and drawings by JD Challenger, Stewart, Tabori & Chang, New York, 1998, $75.

Every Western history buff knows about the Ghost Dance, because it was that religious ceremony and the reaction to it by white civilians and soldiers which led to the December 29, 1890, tragedy at Wounded Knee Creek in South Dakota. But how many of those buffs really know what it was all about, even if they have read such books as Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, by Dee Brown, and The Ghost Dance Religion and the Sioux Outbreak of 1890, by James Mooney? Maybe most of us will never fully understand what it was all about, but Oklahoma native JD Challenger, who is not an Indian, certainly provides a new perspective on Ghost Dancing with his colorful artwork. Challenger does not depict Indians performing the dance, and there are no big Western skies or beautiful Western landscapes in these paintings and drawings. What he does is explore the spirituality and ceremonies of the 19th-century Ghost Dance–which promised a new world full of Indians and buffalo, but no Anglos–while celebrating the power of visions, dreams and such symbols as decorative shields, animal skin clothing and feathered objects. Challenger’s artwork is accompanied by the text of Edwin Daniels, who writes well about the origins and significance of the Ghost Dance.