Black Elk


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Black Elk (b. Ekhaka Sapa)

(1863–1950) Oglala Sioux mystic/medicine man; born near the Little Powder River in present-day Montana or Wyoming. Returning with Sitting Bull from Canadian exile, he traveled with Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show. In 1932 he dictated his autobiography, which provided great insight into Sioux religious beliefs.

Black Elk

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

Black Elk was an Oglala Sioux wichasha wakon (holy man or priest). A second cousin to Crazy Horse, he knew the old war chief well.

In August 1930 a Nebraska writer named John G. Neihardt met Black Elk while doing research on American Indian history. Black Elk, who did not speak English, was said to have remarked to his interpreter, "As I sit here, I can feel in this man beside me a strong desire to know the things of the Other World. He has been sent to learn what I know, and I will teach him."

The world is richer because he did. Neihardt's book, Black Elk Speaks, is one of the great religious books written on the American continent. Not only has it introduced Lakota religious concepts to non-Indians, it has reintroduced countless Indian young people to their roots, whether or not they are from the Plains Indian culture.

Black Elk shared the spiritual framework of the pipe ceremonies and his vision of the "hoop" of his people, delving into what it meant to be a Sioux religious leader and what it means to be an Indian. He shared stories from his youth, remembering bison hunts and Custer's Last Stand. He described the first great vision that set him apart, and he recalled the final days of Wounded Knee.

In his senior years he returned to Harney Peak, where he had experienced his first great vision, filled with images of flying horses and mystical appearances. Here he had heard the sun singing as it rose:

With a visible face I am appearing, In a sacred manner I appear. For the greening earth a pleasantness I make. The center of the nation's hoop I have made pleasant. With visible face, behold me! The four-leggeds and two-leggeds, I have made them to walk; The wings of the air, I have made them to fly. With visible face I appear. My day, I have made it holy.

Now, on his final trip to the place of his vision, Black Elk offered a prayer for all his people who had been so cruelly displaced and abused:

With tears running, O Great Spirit, my Grandfather—with running tears I must say now that the tree has never bloomed. A pitiful old man, you see me here, and I have fallen away and have done nothing. Here at the center of the world, when you took me when I was young and taught me; here, old, I stand, and the tree is withered, Grandfather, my Grandfather. Again, and maybe the last time on this earth, I recall the great vision you sent me. It may be that some little root of the sacred tree still lives. Nourish it then, that it may leaf and bloom and fill with singing birds. Hear me, not for myself, but for my people.

Neihardt says that on the trip up the mountain the sun had been shining. As Black Elk prayed the sky clouded over and it began to rain. With tears running down his face, the old man repeated: "Hear me in my sorrow, for I may never call again. O make my people live."

"And in a little while," Neihardt tells us, "the sky was clear again."

References in periodicals archive ?
By being drawn within the discursive orbit of a given discipline, an object (in this case, Black Elk Speaks) becomes visible to those working within that discipline; it undergoes a transformation, in a sense, and becomes legitimated as an appropriate object of inquiry.
Despite valiant struggles, the descendants of Crazy Horse, Sitting Bull, and Black Elk now live on bleak stretches of dusty land in the center of the United States, intimately familiar with alcoholism and violence.
As I enter the reservation, a wooden sign reads, "Land of the Oglala Sioux and Chiefs Red Cloud, Black Elk, and Crazy Horse.
Black Elk and his companions trekked across Europe and even earned money arranging and performing their own show.
reports (39), Black Elk said nothing about a screech owl being his guardian animal.
I was delighted to see some of my own personal favorites make this book list, among them: Black Elk Speaks (Fine Communications), The Myth of the Eternal Return (Princeton Press) by Mircea Eliade, Siddhartha (Bantam) by Hermann Hesse, The Autobiography of Malcolm X (African American Images), Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (Bantam) by Robert Pirsig, and Night (Bantam) by Elie Wiesel.
Thus, in his funeral homily for Ben Black Elk (200-204), the author conflates the "Black Elk tradition" with his own catechesis about Christ and the pipe.
Local police have also been criticised for not having done enough to investigate the deaths of Wilson Black Elk, 40, and Ronald Hard Heart, 39.
In theory, it would have been possible for Black Elk to have reviewed the text; it could have been translated back to him by the same collaborators who produced the transcripts.
Although the author sticks to the material in Black Elk Speaks as told through John G.
Nicholas Black Elk never lived to see his vision as a 9-year-old boy come to pass.
The largest of the deals was a $150 million senior secured notes offering for Black Elk Energy, a privately held independent oil and gas company headquartered in Houston, Texas with a focus on assets in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM).