Published on February 15, 2011 by Alice
Tavibo (ca. 1810-1870) Tavibo or Tab-be-bo, a Native American of the Paiute people, emerged among them around 1869 as a prophet and visionary. He resided in Mason Valley, north of Virginia City, Nevada, in mountainous territory. It was common for the men to go to the mountains to seek vision and revelations from various spirit entities. Whites began to move into the area in the 1860s and the various chiefs and religious leaders among the Paiute were confronted, as had Native people before them, with the problem of losing their land to the new settlers.
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Accounts of Tavibo vary, but all agree that he received a new revelation in a set of spiritual visions that offered hope to his contemporaries that the Earth would rise up and consume the whites and the land would be returned to its original state before their arrival. These visions most likely occurred in 1869 or 1870. In possibly the best account, left by a Captain J. M. Lee, an infantry officer on duty in the area in the 1870s, Tavibo had gone into the mountains and had an initial vision in which he was told that the Paiute’s situation would be relieved by an earthquake. The Earth would open up and consume the white people. He enlarged upon this prediction in a second vision that suggested that all the humans in the area would be taken into the ground by the quake but that after a short while the Native people would be resurrected.
In a final third revelation, Tavibo said that only those who believed in the prophecy would be resurrected. Unbelievers would join the whites in eternal damnation. Each new revelation brought him some additional followers; however, before he was able to firmly establish his teachings, he died. His movement appeared to die with him and little was heard of it for some two decades. However, in the 1890s, his son Wokova emerged as a new prophet, teaching a variation of his father’s message and what became popularly known as the Ghost Dance.
Sources: Mooney, James. “The Ghost-Dance Religion and the Sioux Outbreak of 1890.” In the Fourteenth Annual Report of the Bureau of Ethnology. Compiled by J. W. Powell. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1896.