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Black Elk Speaks: The Complete Edition

Black Elk Speaks: The Complete Edition

Product no.: 978-0803283916
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.

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Publisher's Synopsis
Black Elk’s 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.

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 Elk’s experiences in this powerful and inspirational message for all humankind.

This complete edition features a new introduction by historian Philip J. Deloria and annotations of Black Elk’s 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.

"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

"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... The 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.

"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

"One of the ten best spiritual books of the twentieth century."     ~Philip Zaleski, HarperSanFrancisco

"There is a story about the way the pipe first came to us. A very long time ago, they say, two scouts were out looking for bison; and when they came to the top of a high hill and looked north, they saw something coming a long way off, and when it came closer they cried out,

'It is a woman!,'

and it was. Then one of the scouts, being foolish, had bad thoughts and spoke them; but the other said:

'That is a sacred woman; throw all bad thoughts away.'

When she came still closer, they saw that she wore a fine white buckskin dress, that her hair was very long and that she was young and very beautiful. And she knew their thoughts and said in a voice that was like singing:

'You do not know me, but if you want to do as you think, you may come.'

And the foolish one went; but just as he stood before her, there was a white cloud that came and covered them. And the beautiful young woman came out of the cloud, and when it blew away the foolish man was a skeleton covered with worms.

Then the woman spoke to the one who was not foolish:

'You shall go home and tell your people that I am coming and that a big tepee shall be built for me in the center of the nation.'

And the man, who was very much afraid, went quickly and told the people, who did at once as they were told; and there around the big tepee they waited for the sacred woman. And after a while she came, very beautiful and singing, and as she went into the tepee this is what she sang:

'With visible breath I am walking.
A voice I am sending as I walk.
In a sacred manner I am walking.
With visible tracks I am walking.
In a sacred manner I walk.'

And as she sang, there came from her mouth a white cloud that was good to smell. Then she gave something to the chief, and it was a pipe with a bison calf carved on one side to mean the earth that bears and feeds us, and with twelve eagle feathers hanging from the stem to mean the sky and the twelve moons, and these were tied with a grass that never breaks.

'Behold!' she said.

'With this you shall multiply and be a good nation. Nothing but good shall come from it. Only the hands of the good shall take care of it and the bad shall not even see it.'

Then she sang again and went out of the tepee; and as the people watched her going, suddenly it was a white bison galloping away and snorting, and soon it was gone.

This they tell, and whether it happened so or not I do not know; but if you think about it, you can see that it is true."

Neihardt was searching for some “long hairs” (Native Americans that still remembered the old ways) to help him understand the Ghost Dance Movement that swept across the plains in the late 1800s. On a trip to Pine Ridge, he found Black Elk and the next year he began meetings and interviews with the Sioux Holy Man that resulted in the book and also tremendous information for the writing of A Cycle Of The West, his tremendous epic poem covering the westward movement across America from 1820 to 1890.

Editor Neihardt, John G.
Author Black Elk, Nicholas
Book Type Trade Paperback
Page Count 424 pp.
Publisher Bison Books 2014
Gold Medal

Gold Medal


  Gold Medal Essential Reading

Browse these categories as well: Sioux, Hopi and Intertribal Wisdom, Medicine Men and Crazy Heyokas, Genocide of the Native Americans, Spiritual Biography and Autobiography, Noteworthy Releases 2014, Gold Medal Essential Reading

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