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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 Nebraska's first poet laureate and foremost poet of the nation by the National Poetry Center in 1936.

Series

Works by John G. Neihardt

Black Elk Speaks: Being the Life Story of a Holy Man of the Oglala Sioux (1932) — Afterword — 3,828 copies, 46 reviews
When the Tree Flowered (1951) 142 copies, 2 reviews
The Sixth Grandfather: Black Elk's Teachings Given to John G. Neihardt (1984) — Interviewer, Editor — 136 copies
A Cycle of the West (1949) 56 copies
The River and I (1910) 45 copies
Black Elk Speaks (Play) (1976) 42 copies, 1 review
Indian Tales and Others (1936) 35 copies
The Song of Hugh Glass (1899) 16 copies
The Song of the Indian Wars (1925) 16 copies, 1 review
The Song of Three Friends (1919) 12 copies
The Song of the Messiah (1935) 11 copies
A Bundle of Myrrh (1911) 11 copies, 1 review
The dawn-builder (1911) 8 copies
The Song of Jed Smith (1941) 7 copies
Man-song (2008) 6 copies
The divine enchantment (1989) 5 copies
Life's lure (1914) 5 copies
Two mothers (1921) 4 copies
The Stranger at the Gate (2007) 4 copies
The quest (1922) 4 copies
La Grande Vision de Black Elk (2022) 1 copy, 1 review

Associated Works

Voice of the Turtle: American Indian Literature, 1900-1970 (1994) — Contributor — 130 copies, 1 review
Masterpieces of American Indian Literature (1993) — Contributor — 117 copies
The Standard Book of British and American Verse (1932) — Contributor — 115 copies, 1 review
60 Years of American Poetry (1996) — Contributor — 28 copies, 1 review
The Boys' Book of the West (2005) — Contributor — 3 copies

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Members

Reviews

I grew up in the rez and I really wish I could go back and talk to those old timers. But I was a kid and didn't care about such things. I really like this book. I could hear Black Elk talking. It was written how the old timers talked. I had a hard time keeping up with the chapters where he described his visions but I think part of it is that I wanted to get to the next chapter to see what other adventures he was going to have.

I was so angry and sad reading it. I was taught Native history throughout elementary school and Jr. High but it's just different when you read this and other books (Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee-Dee Brown, The Earth is Weeping-Peter Cozzens, and others).

Anyway, really good book with a totally different perspective on Native history.
… (more)
 
Flagged
tokenn | 45 other reviews | May 23, 2024 |
“Black Elk Speaks” by John G Neihardt

BIBLIOGRAPHIC DETAILS
PRINT: © (1932) 1/1/2014; 978-0803283916; Bison Books; 424 pages; unabridged. (Paperback info from Amazon.com)
DIGITAL: © 2/28/2014; 9780803283930; University of Nebraska Press/Bison Books; 369 pages; unabridged. (Kindle info from digital version obtained from Libby library app-LAPL loan)
*AUDIO: © 3/10/2010; Phoenix Books, Inc.; 6 hours approx..
FILM: No.

SERIES: No

SUMMARY/ EVALUATION:
SELECTED: Listing the books I have read over the years on Native Americans during a discussion of same, after naming this, it occurred to me I did not remember much about it, so I undertook to read it again.
ABOUT: Black Elk is an Oglala Lakota Sioux. He relays here, back in 1930, the uprooting of the numerous Native American tribes, the battles won and lost, and his vision that promised hope for the future.
OVERALL IMPRESSION: One learns a bit about the religion and culture of this tribe and others in the area and of their profound sense of loss and futility at the encroachment of the Wasichu into the land they knew as home.

AUTHOR:
John G. Neihardt. Excerpts from Wikipdeia:
“From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
John Gneisenau Neihardt (January 8, 1881 – November 3, 1973) was an American writer and poet, amateur historian and ethnographer. Born at the end of the American settlement of the Plains, he became interested in the lives of those who had been a part of the European-American migration, as well as the Indigenous peoples whom they had displaced.

His best-known work is Black Elk Speaks (1932), which Neihardt presents as an extended narration of the visions of the Lakota medicine man Black Elk. It was translated into German as Ich rufe mein Volk (I Call My People) (1953). In the United States, the book was reprinted in 1961, at the beginning of an increase in non-Native interest in Native American cultures. Its widespread popularity has supported four other editions. In 2008 the State University of New York published the book in a premier, annotated edition. However, the accuracy of the book is controversial.”

“Controversy surrounding Black Elk Speaks
Though Black Elk was Oglala Lakota, the book Black Elk Speaks was written by Neihardt, a non-Native. While the book is lauded by non-Native audiences, and has been inspirational to many New Age groups, some Lakota people and Native American scholars do not consider the book to be representative of Lakota beliefs.[2][5] They have questioned the accuracy of the account, which has elements of a collaborative autobiography, spiritual text, and other genres. The Indiana University professor Raymond DeMallie, who has studied the Lakota by cultural and linguistic resources, published "The Sixth Grandfather" in 1985 including the original transcripts of the conversations with Black Elk, plus his own introduction, analysis and notes. He has questioned whether Neihardt's account is accurate and fully represents the views or words of Black Elk.[2]

The primary criticism made by DeMallie and similar scholars is that Neihardt, as the author and editor, may have exaggerated or altered some parts of the story to make it more accessible and marketable to the intended white audience of the 1930s, or because he did not fully understand the Lakota context.[5] Late twentieth-century editions of the book by Nebraska University Press have addressed this issue by entitling the book as Black Elk Speaks, as told through John G. Neihardt (aka "Flaming Rainbow").[6]”

NARRATOR(S):
Scott Peterson. From Goodreads:
“Scott L. Peterson is a professional narrator who has also done work in theater and modern dance.”

GENRE:
Nonfiction; Biography; History; Religion & Spirituality

SUBJECTS:
Native Americans; Oglala Lakota Sioux Tribe; “Plains Indian” Religion; Visions; Little Big Horn; Wounded Knee; Crazy Horse; Sitting Bull; Medicine Men; Black Hills; Ghost Dance; Sun Dance; Pine Ridge Reservation

DEDICATION: Not found

SAMPLE QUOTATION:
From 1: “The Offering of the Pipe”
“Black Elk Speaks:
My friend, I am going to tell you the story of my life, as you wish; and if it were only the story of my life I think I would not tell it; for what is one man that he should make much of his winters, even when they bend him like a heavy snow? So many other men have lived and shall live that story, to be grass upon the hills.
It is the story of all life that is holy and is good to tell, and of us two-leggeds sharing in it with the four-leggeds and the wings of the air and all green things; for these are children of one mother and their father is one Spirit.
This, then, is not the tale of a great hunter or of a great warrior, or of a great traveler, although I have made much meat in my time and fought for my people both as boy and man, and have gone far and seen strange lands and men. So also have many others done, and better than I. These things I shall remember by the way, and often they may seem to be the very tale itself, as when I was living them in happiness and sorrow. But now that I can see it all as from a lonely hilltop, I know it was the story of a mighty vision given to a man too weak to use it; of a holy tree that should have flourished in a people’s heart with flowers and singing birds, and now is withered; and of a people’s dream that died in bloody snow.
But if the vision was true and mighty, as I know, it is true and mighty yet; for such things are of the spirit, and it is in the darkness of their eyes that men get lost.
So I know that it is a good thing I am going to do; and because no good thing can be done by any man alone, I will first make an offering and send a voice to the Spirit of the World,1 that it may help me to be true. See, I fill this sacred pipe with the bark of the red willow; but before we smoke it, you must see how it is made and what it means. These four ribbons hanging here on the stem are the four quarters of the universe. The black one is for the west where the thunder beings2 live to send us rain; the white one for the north, whence comes the great white cleansing wind; the red one for the east, whence springs the light and where the morning star lives to give men wisdom; the yellow for the south, whence come the summer and the power to grow.3
But these four spirits are only one Spirit after all, and this eagle feather here is for that One, which is like a father, and also it is for the thoughts of men that should rise high as eagles do. Is not the sky a father and the earth a mother, and are not all living things with feet or wings or roots their children? And this hide upon the mouthpiece here, which should be bison hide, is for the earth, from whence we came and at whose breast we suck as babies all our lives, along with all the animals and birds and trees and grasses. And because it means all this, and more than any man can understand, the pipe is holy.4
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: “This 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.5
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.
Now I light the pipe, and after I have offered it to the powers that are one Power,6 and sent forth a voice to them, we shall smoke together. Offering the mouthpiece first of all to the One above—so—I send a voice:
Hey hey! hey hey! hey hey! hey hey!
Grandfather, Great Spirit, you have been always, and before you no one has been. There is no other one to pray to but you.7 You yourself, everything that you see, everything has been made by you. The star nations all over the universe you have finished.8 The four quarters of the earth you have finished. The day, and in that day, everything you have finished. Grandfather, Great Spirit, lean close to the earth that you may hear the voice I send. You towards where the sun goes down, behold me; Thunder Beings, behold me! You where the White Giant 9 lives in power, behold me! You where the sun shines continually, whence come the day-break star and the day, behold me! You where the summer lives, behold me! You in the depths of the heavens, an eagle of power, behold! And you, Mother Earth, the only Mother, you who have shown mercy to your children!
Hear me, four quarters of the world—a relative I am! Give me the strength to walk the soft earth, a relative to all that is! Give me the eyes to see and the strength to understand, that I may be like you. With your power only can I face the winds.
Great Spirit, Great Spirit, my Grandfather, all over the earth the faces of living things are all alike. With tenderness have these come up out of the ground. Look upon these faces of children without number and with children in their arms, that they may face the winds and walk the good road to the day of quiet.
This is my prayer; hear me! The voice I have sent is weak, yet with earnestness I have sent it. Hear me!10 It is finished. Hetchetu aloh!11
Now, my friend, let us smoke together so that there may be only good between us.12”

RATING: 4 stars.

STARTED-FINISHED
1/22/24-1/23/24


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Flagged
TraSea | 45 other reviews | Apr 29, 2024 |
I did not know then how much was ending. When I look back now from this high hill of my old age I can still see the butchered women and children heaped and scattered all along the crooked mulch as plain as when I saw them with eyes still young. And I can see that something else died there in the bloody mud and was buried in the blizzard.
 
Flagged
taurus27 | 45 other reviews | Dec 4, 2023 |
Interwoven with Black Elk's many spiritual and healing visions
is the pure horror of the white man's attempt to exterminate all the Indian people..
 
Flagged
m.belljackson | 45 other reviews | Sep 9, 2023 |

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