Black Elk: The Life of an American Visionary

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Winner of the Society of American Historians' Francis Parkman Prize
Winner of the PEN / Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for Biography
Best Biography of 2016, True West magazine
Winner of the Western Writers of America 2017 Spur Award, Best Western Biography
Finalist, National Book Critics Circle Award for Biography
Long-listed for the Cundill History Prize
One of the Best Books of 2016, The Boston Globe

The epic life story of the Native American holy man who has inspired millions around the world

Black Elk, the Native American holy man, is known to millions of readers around the world from his 1932 testimonial Black Elk Speaks. Adapted by the poet John G. Neihardt from a series of interviews with Black Elk and other elders at the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, Black Elk Speaks is one of the most widely read and admired works of American Indian literature. Cryptic and deeply personal, it has been read as a spiritual guide, a philosophical manifesto, and a text to be deconstructed—while the historical Black Elk has faded from view.

In this sweeping book, Joe Jackson provides the definitive biographical account of a figure whose dramatic life converged with some of the most momentous events in the history of the American West. Born in an era of rising violence between the Sioux, white settlers, and U.S. government troops, Black Elk killed his first man at the Little Bighorn, witnessed the death of his second cousin Crazy Horse, and traveled to Europe with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show. Upon his return, he was swept up in the traditionalist Ghost Dance movement and shaken by the Massacre at Wounded Knee. But Black Elk was not a warrior, instead accepting the path of a healer and holy man, motivated by a powerful prophetic vision that he struggled to understand. Although Black Elk embraced Catholicism in his later years, he continued to practice the old ways clandestinely and never refrained from seeking meaning in the visions that both haunted and inspired him.

In Black Elk, Jackson has crafted a true American epic, restoring to its subject the richness of his times and gorgeously portraying a life of heroism and tragedy, adaptation and endurance, in an era of permanent crisis on the Great Plains.

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About the author

Joe Jackson is the author of one novel and six works of nonfiction, including, most recently, Atlantic Fever: Lindbergh, His Competitors, and the Race to Cross the Atlantic (FSG, 2012). His book The Thief at the End of the World: Rubber, Power, and the Seeds of Empire was one of Time’s Top 10 Nonfiction Books of 2008. He is the Mina Hohenberg Darden Endowed Professor of Creative Writing in the M.F.A. creative writing program at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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Published on
Oct 25, 2016
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Pages
624
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ISBN
9780374709617
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Language
English
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Genres
Biography & Autobiography / Cultural, Ethnic & Regional / Native American & Aboriginal
History / Native American
Social Science / Ethnic Studies / Native American Studies
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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Good Friday on the Rez follows the author on a one-day, 280-mile round-trip from his boyhood Nebraska hometown of Alliance to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, where he reconnects with his longtime friend and blood brother, Vernell White Thunder. In a compelling mix of personal memoir and recent American Indian history, David Hugh Bunnell debunks the prevalent myth that all is hopeless for these descendants of Crazy Horse, Red Cloud, and Sitting Bull and shows how the Lakota people have recovered their pride and dignity and why they will ultimately triumph.

What makes this narrative special is Bunnell's own personal experience of close to forty years of friendships and connections on the Rez, as well as his firsthand exposure to some of the historic events. When he lived on Pine Ridge at the same time of the American Indian Movement's seventy-one-day siege at Wounded Knee in 1973, he met Russell Means and got a glimpse behind the barricades. Bunnell has also seen the more recent cultural resurgence firsthand, attending powwows and celebrations, and even getting into the business of raising a herd of bison.

Substantive and raw, Good Friday on the Rez is for readers who care about the historical struggles and the ongoing plight of Native Americans, and in particular, that of the Lakota Sioux, who defeated the U.S. Army twice, and whose leaders have become recognized as among America's greatest historical figures.

Good Friday on the Rez is a dramatic page-turner, an incredible true story that tracks the torment and miraculous resurrection of Native American pride, spirituality, and culture—how things got to be the way they are, where they are going, and why we should care.

A prize-winning writer offers “an affecting portrait of his childhood home, Leech Lake Indian Reservation, and his people, the Ojibwe” (The New York Times).
 
A member of the Ojibwe of northern Minnesota, David Treuer grew up on Leech Lake Reservation, but was educated in mainstream America. Exploring crime and poverty, casinos and wealth, and the preservation of native language and culture, Rez Life is a strikingly original blend of history, memoir, and journalism, a must read for anyone interested in the Native American story. With authoritative research and reportage, he illuminates issues of sovereignty, treaty rights, and natural-resource conservation. He traces the policies that have disenfranchised and exploited Native Americans, exposing the tension that marks the historical relationship between the US government and the Native American population. Ultimately, through the eyes of students, teachers, government administrators, lawyers, and tribal court judges, he shows how casinos, tribal government, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs have transformed the landscape of modern Native American life.
 
“Treuer’s account reads like a novel, brimming with characters, living and dead, who bring his tribe’s history to life.” —Booklist
 
“Important in the way Dee Brown’s Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee was when it came out in 1970, deeply moving readers as it schooled them about Indian history in a way nothing else had.” —Minneapolis Star-Tribune
 
“[A] poignant, penetrating blend of memoir and history.” —People
Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize
This stunning historical account of the forty-year battle between Comanche Indians and white settlers for control of the American West was a major New York Times bestseller.

In the tradition of Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, a stunningly vivid historical account of the forty-year battle between Comanche Indians and white settlers for control of the American West, centering on Quanah, the greatest Comanche chief of them all.

S. C. Gwynne’s Empire of the Summer Moon spans two astonishing stories. The first traces the rise and fall of the Comanches, the most powerful Indian tribe in American history. The second entails one of the most remarkable narratives ever to come out of the Old West: the epic saga of the pioneer woman Cynthia Ann Parker and her mixed-blood son Quanah, who became the last and greatest chief of the Comanches.

Although readers may be more familiar with the tribal names Apache and Sioux, it was in fact the legendary fighting ability of the Comanches that determined just how and when the American West opened up. Comanche boys became adept bareback riders by age six; full Comanche braves were considered the best horsemen who ever rode. They were so masterful at war and so skillful with their arrows and lances that they stopped the northern drive of colonial Spain from Mexico and halted the French expansion westward from Louisiana. White settlers arriving in Texas from the eastern United States were surprised to find the frontier being rolled backward by Comanches incensed by the invasion of their tribal lands. So effective were the Comanches that they forced the creation of the Texas Rangers and account for the advent of the new weapon specifically designed to fight them: the six-gun.

The war with the Comanches lasted four decades, in effect holding up the development of the new American nation. Gwynne’s exhilarating account delivers a sweeping narrative that encompasses Spanish colonialism, the Civil War, the destruction of the buffalo herds, and the arrival of the railroads—a historical feast for anyone interested in how the United States came into being.

Against this backdrop Gwynne presents the compelling drama of Cynthia Ann Parker, a lovely nine-year-old girl with cornflower-blue eyes who was kidnapped by Comanches from the far Texas frontier in 1836. She grew to love her captors and became infamous as the “White Squaw” who refused to return until her tragic capture by Texas Rangers in 1860. More famous still was her son Quanah, a warrior who was never defeated and whose guerrilla wars in the Texas Panhandle made him a legend.

S. C. Gwynne’s account of these events is meticulously researched, intellectually provocative, and, above all, thrillingly told. Empire of the Summer Moon announces him as a major new writer of American history.
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