- Paperback: 424 pages
- Publisher: Bison Books; Reprint edition (March 1, 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0803283911
- ISBN-13: 978-0803283916
- Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.2 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 297 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #20,426 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Black Elk Speaks: The Complete Edition Paperback – March 1, 2014
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“Black Elk Speaks is an extraordinarily human document—and beyond that the record of a profoundly spiritual journey, the pilgrimage of a people toward their historical fulfillment and culmination, toward the accomplishment of a worthy destiny.”—N. Scott Momaday
“An American classic.”—Western Historical Quarterly
“If any great religious classic has emerged in [the twentieth] century or on this continent, it must certainly be judged in the company of Black Elk Speaks.”—from Vine Deloria Jr.’s foreword
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 Nebraska’s first poet laureate and foremost poet of the nation by the National Poetry Center in 1936.
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Top customer reviews
The text itself is a classic for good reasons. If you’ve reached this page, you definitely want to read it.
Black Elk, tells with great poignancy his early visions as a youth that propelled him to be a healer; of the betrayal of his Sioux people by the whites when gold was discovered in the Black Hills of Dakota territory; of the "rubbing out of Long Hair" ( the defeat of Custer), of Black Elk's travels in Europe as a performer in Buffalo Bill Cody's Wild West Show; and finally of his return to the frontier to witness and fight against US soldiers at Wounded Knee. He also recounts the assassinations of Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull by the Reservation police.
This is a book that should be on the reading list of every US high school's American History class. It is a rare insight into the broken treaties and the final betrayal, incarceration and placing on reservations of the proud, independent Sioux nation. It is the end of the frontier and the end of a way of life. Sadly, it is also a curtain raiser to the same kind of atrocities, little known, that US forces committed against Filipinos in the first years of the 1900's; and it leads to My Lai in Vietnam, and Abu Gharib in Iraq. It is another reminder that war and colonization is hell, and that commanders cannot be counted on to restrain their men, and that the casualties of conquest are more often civilians than soldiers.
The real sadness of this book, however, is Black Elk's measured but ultimately tragic telling of the death of the Sioux way of life in the final decades of the 1800's, of the breaking of their spirit, and the perishing of their magical, nomadic culture at the hands of "Western progress."
Neidhardt left out the ensuing years on Pine Ridge Reservation and Black Elk's acceptance of Catholicism to frame a lost way of life, the sadness and injustice of it, and the greatness and seeming inevitability of Black Elk's vision. I believe any poetic license taken was in service of bringing forth a greater truth. The book was not meant to be a biography or history of the Lakota, but to preserve Black Elk's vision and so the purpose of the book was accomplished. Those who want to pick at the book miss the greater impact of Black Elk's life and vision. As this was not Neidhardt's culture he probably also didn't totally understand nor was he able to explain some things, but again, are we missing the greater truth of the book by focusing on imperfections? Read this book with an open heart and you won't be disappointed.
Some feel Black Elk became a Catholic as a way of continuing to teach the Lakota way along with the Christian faith to preserve the Lakota culture. I believe he was intelligent and had such a great spirit he saw he could blend both faiths and build a bridge for the future. Nor was he intimidated into the Christian faith. His daughter said his acceptance of the Catholic faith was true and not a sham to keep teaching the Lakota ways surreptitiously. After reading this book, if Black Elk interests you there are books available on the later half of his life. Black Elk lived until 1950. You may also be interested in The Sacred Pipe: Black Elk's Account of the Seven Rites of the Oglala Sioux (The Civilization of the American Indian Series).
If you would like a somewhat different perspective or style of writing you might take a look at Lame Deer, Seeker of Visions (Enriched Classics). Lame Deer felt Black Elk Speaks missed the mark in some ways so he enlisted the help of Richard Erdoes to write his own book as Lame Deer did not speak much English. I enjoyed reading Lame Deer, Seeker of Visions as there is humor and compassion toward all in his account of his life and that of his people.
Most recent customer reviews
* This 2014 edition is extra interesting for the motivated reader because it...Read more