Black Elk Speaks, in full Black Elk Speaks: Being the Life Story of a Holy Man of the Oglala Sioux as Told to John G. Neihardt (Flaming Rainbow), the. and So Does John Neihardt. Black Elk Speaks has been many things to m has been studied at various times as anthropology psychology, and as history. “Black Elk Speaks is the story of the Lakota visionary and healer Nicholas Black Elk () and his people during the momentous twilight years of the.
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Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Want to Read saving…. Epeaks to Read Currently Reading Read. Refresh and try again. Open Preview See dlk Problem? Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. The most important aspect of this book is upon the contemporary generation of young Indians who have been aggressively searching for roots of their own in the structure of universal reality. They look to it for spiritual guidance, for sociological identity, for political insight, and the affirmation of the continuing substance of Indian tribal life.
Published November 1st by Bison Books first published To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about Black Elk Speaksplease sign up. Lists with This Book. Jan 28, Neiharrt rated it really liked it Shelves: 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 at the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.
Black Elk, then in his mids, 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 at the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.
Black Elk, then in his mids, reflects back on a life spent trying to heal his people as a whole, not just individuals with medical problems.
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.
Thunder Beings swept him into the sky and take him to a mountain at the center of the world where the ideal of a tree of life flourishes and provides shelter for the community.
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. 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 ofwas 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 speak best understood by reading books of history and biography, but I felt the impact of their cultural trauma neihafdt 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 neihatdt, 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.
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. It was a beautiful dream. There is no center any longer, and the sacred tree is dead.
Black Elk Speaks | work by Neihardt |
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.
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.
View all 12 comments. Dec 30, Tim rated it it was amazing Shelves: It was inspired of John Neihardt to get Black Elk to tell him his life story. Black Elk was both a warrior and a holy man. Thus we get both sides of Lakota male culture. He was given a vision that promised to save his people but felt he was weak and had failed them. He thought seeing the world with Buffalo Bill might help him understand what he needed to do. I could see that the Wasichus [white man] did not care for each other the way our people did before the nation’s hoop was broken.
This could not be better than the old ways of my people. View all 10 comments. This was my third time reading this book, and every time I come away with something new. I highly recommend this to anyone studying religion. I highly recommend this book to every single American citizen.
It should be required reading in public schools. The Lakota people have a vibrant, exciting, living religious tradition, and the fact that Black Elk’s story was recorded is a gem and a blessing.
Not only is it because of the religious tradition is this book important. It is also important becau This was my third time reading this book, and every time I come away with something new. It is also important because Black Elk was a surviving eye witness to the Wounded Knee Massacre, as well as Little Big Horn and other important battles of his time.
Most importantly, history is usually written by the victors. Yet, we have Black Elk’s story. Read it with awe and with reverence. Dec 12, Christy rated it it was amazing. I read this years ago when I first started teaching an undergraduate “global ethics” class, and knew it was the likely the best source of Lakota American Plains Indian tribe philosophy and worldview.
Black Elk believed that humans would not be Good if they weren’t connected to each other and to the universe. Unless we knew and practiced a “oneness of humanity” to borrow a phrase from the Baha’i’ faith – a group that once gave me an award for anti-racism work in schools! Black Elk was horrified at the White Man’s sic love for things, and using people, instead of using things and loving people to paraphrase an old saying, but it’s what he essentially said, too!
I highly recommend visiting my state of Wyoming to see the Little Big Horn battlesight and museum near the Montana border to consider what Black Elk witnessed as a young man, later moving to Wounded Knee and seeing the slaughter of Native peoples by the US calvary there.
I should mention that while the Lakota and some other tribes were known for its nature worship, not all native tribes in the US had such reverence for nature and care of “Mother Earth” as others, although that is a stereotype about Native beliefs of course, full of differences that are hallmark across any group of complicated human culture!
Black Elk Speaks
I did like the Lakota claim, even though certainly “new Age-y”, that we are psychologically and emotionally most healthy if we at least a few minutes a meihardt connected with the earth – walking on paths or on the beach, etc.
Dec 13, Barnaby Thieme rated it it was ok Shelves: John Heihardt’s classic is a problematic read to be sure. On the one hand, Neihardt was a sympathetic interlocutor who elicited a fascinating account from an extraordinary man who lived through several major episodes in lateth-century history. On the other hand, his poetic pretensions led him to rearrange and dress up that testimony, adorning it with his own mediocre neo-Romantic insight, and altogether distorting the historical and cultural record.
Readers of Black Elk Speaks may be surprise John Heihardt’s classic is a problematic read to be sure. Readers of Black Elk Speaks may be surprised to look up key episodes in the volume in the raw transcripts of their conversations, only to find blcak they were entirely invented by Neihardt.
Now, on the one hand, I have a certain amount of sympathy for Neihardt, who worked very hard in order to preserve and present a document of great power and importance. He was writing at a time when it was still widely believed that the Lakota were a “primitive people,” “savage,” and “uncivilized,” and he labored to find an audience for their experience, with considerable success in the long run. That may explain speask transformation of blacl plain-spoken style of the transcript into a somewhat maudlin kind of free verse, seeming to my eyes to be modeled after Goethe’s “Sorrows of Spea,s Werther” or the American transcendentalists.
But it does not excuse some of Neihardt’s wholesale inventions – especially his deep distortions of Black Elk’s “Great Vision,” which altogether inverted the sense and meaning of the experience, coercing it into a frame that Neihardt apparently found more congenial to his sentiments.
I wrote at length about this particular problem on my blog, here: View all 7 comments. Feb 11, Amy rated it really liked it. Grandfather, Great Spirit, once more behold me on earth and lean to hear my feeble voice.
You lived first, and you are older than all need, older than all prayer. All things belong to you the two-leggeds, the four-leggeds, the wings of the air and all green things that live.
Black Elk Speaks – John G. Neihardt – Google Books
Blak have set the powers of the four quarters to cross each other. The good road and the road of difficulties you have made to cross; and where they cross the place is holy. Day in and day out, forever, you are the life o Grandfather, Great Spirit, once more behold me on earth and lean to hear my feeble voice. Day in and day out, forever, you are the life of spesks.
Therefore I am sending a voice Great Spirit, my Grandfather, forgetting nothing you have made, the stars of the universe and the grasses of the earth.
You have said to me, when I was still young and could hope, that in difficulty I should send a voice four times, once for each quarter of the earth, and you would hear me. Today I send a voice for a people in despair. You have given me a sacred pipe, and through this I should make my neibardt. You see boack now. From the west you have given me the cup of living water and the sacred bow, the power to make life and to destroy. You have given me a sacred wind and and an herb from where the white giant lives the cleansing power and the healing.