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Black Elk Speaks

Black Elk Speaks

The book, "Black Elk Speaks" by John G. Neihardt, is the life story of an Oglala Sioux Indian that was a holy man from the American Indian culture. The purpose of this book, according to the author, was to hear the story of the Messiah Movement of the late nineteenth century that came to a culture of desperate Indians in the late nineteenth century in search of a divine dream that ultimately ended at Wounded Knee. But more than just hearing the story, Neihardt wanted to feel and live the story from someone close to it. This came about in the form of Black Elk, a priest or holy man connected to the messianic movement of the Indians.

Facts about Black Elk Speaks:

  • Author = John G. Neihardt
  • Tribe = Oglala Sioux
  • Purpose = Document the Messiah Movement
  • Main character = Black Elk

Black Elk began his life story with the offering of the pipe. But before this came about, he first relayed the significance of the pipe. This story filled with visions, as much of his life was, began with a vision of a woman that spewed song and sweet smoke from her mouth. She offered a pipe to the chief in the nature of prosperity and goodwill. From this the custom of smoking the pipe between two men so that only good would come between them came about. After this custom was done, Black Elk then began the story of his life.Paper Masters can compose a custom written research paper on Black Elk that follows your guidelines.

Beginning with his childhood, Black Elk tells of the entry of the Wasichus (white man) into the lands of the Indian. His memory is not real clear but he remembers a lot of movement and a lot of death. Around the age of five years old Black Elk first started to receive his visions. They began as voices and scared him immensely. He told no one. At the age of nine, Black Elk had his Great Vision. This vision came when he was sick for twelve days. It was a vision of the six Grandfathers and when he awoke, Black Elk tried to make meaning of it without telling anyone.

Black Elk Speaks

Although he could not understand the entire vision, he could feel its meaning within him. This was the start of something special in Black Elk that would take some time to manifest before anyone would actually know what it was. Black Elk's telling of this vision draws the reader into it and when he emphasizes the clarity even those outside the Indian culture can do nothing but believe.

For nothing I have ever seen with my eyes was so clear and bright as what my vision showed me; and no words I have ever heard with my ears were like the words I heard. I did not have to remember these things; they have remembered themselves all these years. It was as I grew older that the meanings came clearer and clearer out of the pictures and the words; and even now I know that more was shown to me than I can tell.

This is the essence that Neihardt hoped to capture from someone directly connected to this divine dream of the Native American Indian.

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