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A review of the story black elk

Black Elk, then in his mid-60s, reflects back on a life spent trying to heal his people as a whole, not just individuals with medical p This is a haunting and moving transcription of interviews with the revered medicine man Black Elk of the Oglala band of the Lakota Sioux in 1930 at the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. Black Elk, then in his mid-60s, reflects back on a life spent trying to heal his people as a whole, not just individuals with medical problems.

Black Elk: Holy Man of the Oglala

This mission was instilled in him from a mystical vision he had while seriously ill at age 9. In the narrative he goes into great detail about this vision for the first time because he felt it could still be important to inspire young Indians. As an outsider to this culture, much in the vision was baffling, but I could at least appreciate the poetic power of its imagery and get glimmers of the comprehensiveness of the spiritual system embodied in it.

They display to him arrays of horses acting out the meanings of the four directions on earth, the sacred hoop of the community of people, the paths that they must follow on the good Red Road and difficult Black Road, the intersection of these roads where the tree must be planted and made to flourish, and the story of the sacred pipe of peace bestowed by the White Bison in the form of a woman. He felt he failed in that life quest considering all the broken treaties and sad outcomes to his tribe from violent conflict with the U.

Black Elk Speaks: Being the Life Story of a Holy Man of the Oglala Sioux

Army during his youth. He was 13 when the Black Hills were taken from the tribe for its gold and was present during the Battle of the Little Big Horn of 1876, was close at hand when his hero Crazy Horse was killed while in custody. By 17 he was recognized as a medcine man and began sharing his visions. These events are best understood by reading books of history and biography, but I felt the impact of their cultural trauma in a powerful way through the authentic voice of Black Elk: I did not know then how much was ended.

When I look back now from this high hill of my old age, I can still see the butchered women and children lying heaped and scattered all along the crooked gulch as plain as when I saw them with eyes still young.

Review: 'Black Elk: The Life of an American Visionary,' by Joe Jackson

And I can see that something else died there in the bloody mud, and was buried in the blizzard. A people's dream died there.

  1. A people's dream died there.
  2. When I look back now from this high hill of my old age, I can still see the butchered women and children lying heaped and scattered all along the crooked gulch as plain as when I saw them with eyes still young.
  3. When I look back now from this high hill of my old age, I can still see the butchered women and children lying heaped and scattered all along the crooked gulch as plain as when I saw them with eyes still young. It was a beautiful dream.
  4. They had forgotten that the earth was their mother.

It was a beautiful dream. After Wounded Knee, the tribe had to knuckle under, and Black Elk set out to learn more of the ways of their conquerers.

As usual, he dwells little on the detailed events as he lived them but focuses on the big picture. He was awed by the power of a civilization that could make railroads, steamships, and engines of war. He was moved by the kindness of individuals, like families he stayed with and the sincere respect he felt in communicating with Queen Victoria.

But in no way could he see the way of life of the whites Wasichus as superior to that of Native peoples: They would take everything from each other if they could, and so there were some who had more of everything than they could use, while crowds of people had nothing at all and maybe were starving.

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They had forgotten that the earth was their mother. At the end of the book, Neihart takes Black Elk out to a site of spiritual significance to him, where he enacts a moving prayer of hope that the surviving roots of the sacred tree might yet be nurtured to life. Potential readers of the account can sample it or read it in full as web pages at First People or in a pdf version posted here.