Indigenous Religious Traditions in the Post-Civil War Era

Wednesday, March 8, 2023 - 7:00 - 8:30 PM

The University Seminar on Indigenous Studies presents "Indigenous Religious Traditions in the Post-Civil War Era"

Reply Request: Please RSVP by Sunday, March 5 emailing Sara Pan (

Title of the Presentation: Indigenous Religious Traditions in the Post-Civil War Era

Speaker’s Name: Professor Tiffany Hale

Assistant Professor in the Department of Religion at Barnard College of Columbia University

Abstract: The Ghost Dance was a pan-Indigenous religious movement that began in the 1860s. Reservation authorities in the American West responded to this new movement with panic and violence. This aggression eventually included the Wounded Knee Massacre of 1890, during which over two hundred Miniconjou Lakota people were killed by the United States Army. The Army awarded twenty Medals of Honor to the soldiers who took part in the massacre, and these honors have yet to be rescinded despite ongoing demands to do so by Indigenous activists. Some scholars have recently sought to rethink the circumstances surrounding Wounded Knee by emphasizing that the Ghost Dance was a peaceful expression of Native American Christianity that the American public in the late nineteenth century did not recognize or comprehend. An earlier generation of scholars underscored that Ghost Dancing did in fact represent a militant threat to national interests. My work examines how misinterpretations of Indigenous religious traditions have roots that can be traced through various attempts to document and name the Ghost Dance. I introduce the concept of fugitive religion as a new lens for understanding the power of displaced Indigenous people who lived and died in an era characterized by post-Civil War reassertions of white supremacy.

Speaker’s Bio: Tiffany Hale is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Religion at Barnard College of Columbia University. She is a scholar of Indigenous religious traditions whose work focuses on nineteenth century Native American history and United States race relations. She holds a PhD in History from Yale University and an MA from the University of California, Santa Barbara. She has held fellowships from the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, the Newberry Library’s D’Arcy McNickle Center in Chicago, and the American Philosophical Society. At Barnard and Columbia, Professor Hale teaches courses in global Indigenous religious traditions, Native American history, and religion in the Americas. Her current book project, titled Fugitive Religion: The Ghost Dance and Native American Resistance After the Civil War, is under contract with Yale University Press.

Please note that dinner will be served at 6:00 PM at the Faculty House. As of January 2023, the University Seminars Office will resume collecting meal payments from Seminar/Workshop meeting guests dining at the Faculty House. If you want to attend the dinner, please bring a check to the dinner event. The price is $30 per dinner guest. The check should be made payable to "Columbia University," and the following should be written on the memo line: “[Indigenous Studies] Dinner Payment.