Black Elk Speaks , the story of the Oglala Lakota visionary and healer Nicholas Black Elk — and his people during momentous twilight years of the nineteenth century, offers readers much more than a precious glimpse of a vanished time. Neihardt, have made this book a classic that crosses multiple genres. Whether appreciated as the poignant tale of a Lakota life, as a history of a Native nation, or as an enduring spiritual testament, Black Elk Speaks is unforgettable. Black Elk met the distinguished poet, writer, and critic John G. This complete edition features a new introduction by historian Philip J.
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Black Elk Speaks , a personal narrative, has the characteristics of several genres: autobiography, testimonial, tribal history, and elegy. However, Neihardt's editing and his daughter's transcription of Black Elk's words, as well as Black Elk's son's original spoken translation, raise questions about the narrative's authenticity.
As an autobiography, the narrative traces Black Elk's development as a healer and holy man empowered by a mystical vision granted to him when he was young. As a tribal history, it records the transition of the Sioux nation from pre-reservation to reservation culture, including their participation in the Battle of Little Bighorn, the ghost dance, and the massacre at Wounded Knee.
As an elegy, it mourns the passing of an age of innocence and freedom for the American Indian and his current cultural displacement. Neihardt frames Black Elk Speaks with his Preface and Author's Postscript, which, though modest, remind readers of an editing presence.
In these two pieces, Neihardt describes the circumstances of his conversation with Black Elk. Chapters 1 and 2 are preliminary to the description of the great vision in Chapter 3; they convey Black Elk's confidence in Neihardt and record the first few years of Black Elk's childhood, including the first time he heard voices at age five.
Chapter 3, the longest and most complicated chapter of the book, describes the vision that Black Elk was granted when he was nine years old. Highly iconographic and symbolic, Black Elk's early vision depicts his journey to a cloud world in the sky where six grandfathers give him sacred objects and empower him to maintain his people's sacred hoop.
From this vision, Black Elk gains a sense of himself as different from others in his band in ways that are both privileged and unsettling.
Chapters 4 through 9 chart increasing tension between the Sioux and white Americans, as settlement and commercial enterprise expand westward into Indian territory. The dislocation and loss of culture that the Sioux suffered as a consequence of such events as the discovery of gold in Montana and the building of the Transcontinental Railroad erupts in the Battle of Little Bighorn, recorded in Chapter 9.
Black Elk's narrative continues to recount the increasing dislocation of the Sioux as the U. Government annexed more and more Indian territory and established Indian agencies and reservations. At the same time, Black Elk's vision perplexes him because circumstances do not seem to allow him to fulfill it. In Chapter 11, U. In Chapter 12, Black Elk finds himself with a small group of his people in virtual exile in Canada, trying to avoid the inevitable reservation life.
Chapters 13 through 18 record Black Elk's increasing anxiety about assuming his role as healer and holy man. These chapters also depict the performance of public rituals the horse dance and the heyoka ceremony that allow Black Elk to assume his role publicly. He has another vision, the dog vision, in Chapter 15, and in Chapter 17 performs his first cure.
While in London, he participates in a command performance to celebrate Queen Victoria's jubilee. He becomes close to a young woman in Paris and suddenly falls ill while visiting her.
The girl's family take care of him until he recovers. During his illness, he has another vision. In Chapter 21, Black Elk comes home to an almost totally displaced community, living on reservations, with the bison herd all but extinct.
The ghost dance religion revives the Sioux; Chapters 21 and 22 chart Black Elk's participation in that hope for an apocalypse. Chapters 23 and 24 describe the death of Sitting Bull and the massacre at Wounded Knee.
Chapter 25 describes the aftermath of the massacre and shows Black Elk's profound disappointment at his failure to enact the power that his vision gave him. Next About Black Elk Speaks. Removing book from your Reading List will also remove any bookmarked pages associated with this title.
Are you sure you want to remove bookConfirmation and any corresponding bookmarks? My Preferences My Reading List. Book Summary Black Elk Speaks , a personal narrative, has the characteristics of several genres: autobiography, testimonial, tribal history, and elegy.
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Black Elk Speaks: Being the Life Story of a Holy Man of the Oglala Sioux
Black Elk Speaks , a personal narrative, has the characteristics of several genres: autobiography, testimonial, tribal history, and elegy. However, Neihardt's editing and his daughter's transcription of Black Elk's words, as well as Black Elk's son's original spoken translation, raise questions about the narrative's authenticity. As an autobiography, the narrative traces Black Elk's development as a healer and holy man empowered by a mystical vision granted to him when he was young. As a tribal history, it records the transition of the Sioux nation from pre-reservation to reservation culture, including their participation in the Battle of Little Bighorn, the ghost dance, and the massacre at Wounded Knee.
Black Elk Speaks
At his death, he was thought to be about eighty-four years old. During an illness when he was nine years old, he saw something that can be interpreted as the totality of earthly creation conjoined in glorious, sky-spanning unity. He described his vision to John G. Almost no one bought the book when it first appeared, but in time it picked up readers by the millions. In this, I am describing myself. Neihardt left out a key fact about Black Elk: after his baptism, which took place on the name day of St.
Birchbark Books and Native Arts
Black Elk Speaks is a book by John G. Neihardt , an American poet and writer, who relates the story of Black Elk , an Oglala Lakota medicine man. The prominent psychologist Carl Jung read the book in the s and urged its translation into German; in , it was published as Ich rufe mein Volk I Call My People. However, the book has come under fire for what critics describe as inaccurate representations of Lakota culture and beliefs. In the summer of , as part of his research into the Native American perspective on the Ghost Dance movement, the poet and writer John G. Neihardt , already the Nebraska poet laureate, received the necessary permission from the Bureau of Indian Affairs to go to the Pine Ridge Reservation. Accompanied by his two daughters, he went to meet an Oglala holy man named Black Elk.
Another Vision of Black Elk
Le vol du sac While not an outright fraud like Little Tree , written by a white Alabamian with ties to the Ku Klux Klan 2 , or Red Fox , in which someone posing as a Sioux invented a life for himself 3 , it turns out that Black Elk Speaks is not true to the full life of its protagonist. While Neihardt felt great affection and respect for Black Elk, he did not really understand him, and he made the highly complex religious figure into a simplistic if sympathetic symbol of the defeat of the traditional Indian way of life. Black Elk deserves better than that, hence the efforts of scholars like Michael Steltenkamp, Clyde Holler, and Raymond DeMallie, following up on McCluskey and Castro, to identify the real Black Elk as opposed to the mythic figure depicted by Neihardt 4.