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

Black Elk Speaks: Being the
Life Story of a Holy Man of the Oglala Sioux by Black Elk
“If any great religious classic has emerged in this century or on this
continent, it must certainly be judged in the company of “Black Elk
Speaks”…The most important aspect of the book, however, is not its
effect on the non-Indian populace who wished to learn something of the
beliefs of the Plains Indians but upon the contemporary generation of young
Indians who have been aggressively searching for roots of their own in the
structure of universal reality. To them the book has become a North American
bible of all tribes.” – Vine Deloria, Jr. “The experience of Black
Elk …comes to one great statement, which for me is a key statement to the
understanding of myth and symbols.” – Joseph Campbell in an interview
with Bill Moyers, “The Power of Myth”. His meeting with the Sioux
holy man Black Elk, John G. Neihardt once said, was the most memorable
experience of his life. In 1930, while working on the concluding poem of his
“Cycle of the West”, Neihardt had gone to the Pine Ridge
Reservation hoping to find “some old medicine man who had been active in
the Messiah Movement and who might be induced to talk with me about the
deeper spiritual significance of the matter.” In Neihardt, Black Elk
recognized the one who had been sent to learn what “was given to me for
men.” The next summer, in a long series of talks, Black Elk imparted his
own life story and the story of the Oglala Sioux during the tragic decades of
the Custer battle, the ghost dance, and the Wounded Knee massacre.
“Black Elk Speaks”, originally published in 1932, is venerated by
many who have become alarmed at the declining spiritual and material quality
of life in the age of computers and Star Wars. While the electronic media
purvey fragmented images of tragic schisms, Black Elk offers an eloquent and
profound vision of the unity of all creation.

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Brown Book Group, Little


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