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revitalization movement

revitalization movement, political-religious movements promising deliverance from deprivation, the elimination of foreign domination, and a new interpretation of the human condition based on traditional cultural values, common in societies undergoing severe stress associated with colonial conquest and intense class or racial exploitation. A prominent example is the Ghost Dance of Native Americans, who believed that their ritual would cause ancestors and bison herds to return and white people to leave. Although a nonviolent form of protest, it ended with the massacre of over 200 Sioux men, women, and children by the U.S. army at Wounded Knee, S.Dak., in 1890. Cargo cults are another form of revitalization movement found in New Guinea and other parts of Melanesia, especially after the intense movements of armies through the area during World War II. Followers believe that local governments prevent their ancestors from delivering an abundance of European or American goods. Their rituals reflect their sense of economic marginalization, belief that the world capitalist economy behaves irrationally, and alienation from state-level politics. These movements are also referred to as nativistic, revivalistic, millenarian, or messianic.

See J. Mooney, The Ghost Dance Religion (1965); P. Worsley, The Trumpet Shall Sound (1968); A. H. Shovers, Visions of Peace (1985).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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