Black Elk Speaks
is widely hailed as a religious classic, one of the best spiritual books of the modern era and the bestselling book of all time by an American Indian. This inspirational and unfailingly powerful story reveals the life and visions of the Lakota healer Nicholas Black Elk (1863-1950) and the tragic history of his Sioux people during the epic closing decades of the Old West. In 1930, the aging Black Elk met a kindred spirit, the famed poet, writer, and critic John G. Neihardt (1881-1973) on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. The Lakota elder chose Neihardt to share his visions and life with the world. Neihardt understood and today Black Elk is known to all.
Black Elk's remarkable great vision came to him during a time of decimation and loss, when outsiders were stealing the Lakotas' land, slaughtering buffalo, and threatening their age-old way of life. As Black Elk remembers all too well, the Lakotas, led by such legendary men as Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull, fought unceasingly for their freedom, winning a world-renowned victory at the Little Bighorn and suffering unspeakable losses at Wounded Knee. Black Elk Speaks
however is more than the epic history of a valiant Native nation. It is beloved as a spiritual classic because of John Neihardt's sensitivity to Black Elk's resounding vision of the wholeness of earth, her creatures, and all of humanity. Black Elk Speaks
is a once-in-a-lifetime read: the moving story of a young Lakota boy before the reservation years, the unforgettable history of an American Indian nation, and an enduring spiritual message for us all.
The premier edition features the first-ever annotated edition of Black Elk's story, done by renowned Lakota scholar Raymond J. DeMallie, the original Standing Bear illustrations and new commentary on them, new maps of the world of Black Elk Speaks
, and a revised index.
"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
... [T]he book has become a North American bible of all tribes ... it speaks to us with simple and compelling language about an aspect of human experience and encourages us to emphasize the best that dwells within us..." -- 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
"It is sufficient that Black Elk Speaks
is an extraordinarily human document--and beyond that the record of a profoundly spiritual journey, the pilgrimage of a people towards their historical fulfillment and culmination, towards the accomplishment of a worthy destiny." -- N. Scott Momaday
"If a religious text of powerful import occurred in the twentieth century, it was Black Elk Speaks
. If both Eastern (Buddhist/Taoist) and Western (Judeo-Christain/Muslim) religious canons are to be challenged and grounded in new theology, a major source will be Black Elk Speaks
." -- Whole Earth, 2000