Black Elk Speaks: The Complete Edition

U of Nebraska Press
37
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Black Elk Speaks, the story of the Oglala Lakota visionary and healer Nicholas Black Elk (1863_1950) and his people during momentous twilight years of the nineteenth century, offers readers much more than a precious glimpse of a vanished time. Black Elkês searing visions of the unity of humanity and Earth, conveyed by John G. 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.

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Black Elk met the distinguished poet, writer, and critic John G. Neihardt in 1930 on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota and asked Neihardt to share his story with the world. Neihardt understood and conveyed Black Elkês experiences in this powerful and inspirational message for all humankind.

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This complete edition features a new introduction by¾historian Philip J. Deloria and annotations of Black Elkês story by renowned Lakota scholar Raymond J. DeMallie. Three essays by John G. Neihardt provide background on this landmark work along with pieces by Vine Deloria Jr., Raymond J. DeMallie, Alexis Petri, and Lori Utecht. Maps, original illustrations by Standing Bear, and a set of appendixes rounds out the edition.

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About the author

John G. Neihardt (1881_1973) is the author of several classics, including A Cycle of the West and Eagle Voice Remembers, both available in Bison Books editions. He was named Nebraskaês first poet laureate and foremost poet of the nation by the National Poetry Center in 1936.

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Additional Information

Publisher
U of Nebraska Press
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Published on
Mar 1, 2014
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Pages
408
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ISBN
9780803283930
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Language
English
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Genres
Biography & Autobiography / Native Americans
History / United States / 19th Century
History / United States / State & Local / Southwest (AZ, NM, OK, TX)
History / United States / State & Local / West (AK, CA, CO, HI, ID, MT, NV, UT, WY)
Religion / Ethnic & Tribal
Social Science / Ethnic Studies / Native American Studies
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Black Elk of the Sioux has been recognized as one of the truly remarkable men of his time in the matter of religious belief and practice. Shortly before his death in August, 1950, when he was the "keeper of the sacred pipe," he said, "It is my prayer that, through our sacred pipe, and through this book in which I shall explain what our pipe really is, peace may come to those peoples who can understand, and understanding which must be of the heart and not of the head alone. Then they will realize that we Indians know the One true God, and that we pray to Him continually."

Black Elk was the only qualified priest of the older Oglala Sioux still living when The Sacred Pipe was written. This is his book: he gave it orally to Joseph Epes Brown during the latter's eight month's residence on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, where Black Elk lived. Beginning with the story of White Buffalo Cow Woman's first visit to the Sioux to give them the sacred pip~, Black Elk describes and discusses the details and meanings of the seven rites, which were disclosed, one by one, to the Sioux through visions. He takes the reader through the sun dance, the purification rite, the "keeping of the soul," and other rites, showing how the Sioux have come to terms with God and nature and their fellow men through a rare spirit of sacrifice and determination.

The wakan Mysteries of the Siouan peoples have been a subject of interest and study by explorers and scholars from the period of earliest contact between whites and Indians in North America, but Black Elk's account is without doubt the most highly developed on this religion and cosmography. The Sacred Pipe, published as volume thirty-six in the Civilization of the American Indian Series, will be greeted enthusiastically by students of comparative religion, ethnologists, historians, philosophers, and everyone interested in American Indian life.

Since its publication in 1932, Black Elk Speaks has moved countless readers to appreciate the American Indian world that it described. John Neihardt’s popular narrative addressed the youth and early adulthood of Black Elk, an Oglala Sioux religious elder. Michael F. Steltenkamp now provides the first full interpretive biography of Black Elk, distilling in one volume what is known of this American Indian wisdom keeper whose life has helped guide others.

Nicholas Black Elk: Medicine Man, Missionary, Mystic shows that the holy-man was not the dispirited traditionalist commonly depicted in literature, but a religious thinker whose outlook was positive and whose spirituality was not limited solely to traditional Lakota precepts. Combining in-depth biography with its cultural context, the author depicts a more complex Black Elk than has previously been known: a world traveler who participated in the Battle of the Little Bighorn yet lived through the beginning of the atomic age.

Steltenkamp draws on published and unpublished material to examine closely the last fifty years of Black Elk’s life—the period often overlooked by those who write and think of him only as a nineteenth-century figure. In the process, the author details not just Black Elk’s life but also the creation of his life story by earlier writers, and its influence on the Indian revitalization movement of the late twentieth century.

Nicholas Black Elk explores how a holy-man’s diverse life experiences led to his synthesis of Native and Christian religious practice. The first book to follow Black Elk’s lifelong spiritual journey—from medicine man to missionary and mystic—Steltenkamp’s work provides a much-needed corrective to previous interpretations of this special man’s life story. This biography will lead general readers and researchers alike to rediscover both the man and the rich cultural tradition of his people.

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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