Black elk Speaks

This essay has a total of 900 words and 4 pages.


Black elk Speaks




Discussion of Black Elk Speaks

Black Elk was a holy man of the Oglala band of the Lakota Sioux nation. Black Elk
interpreted his life as a holy man as "the story of a mighty vision" (BES, p. 2). As a
child, Black Elk was blessed with a great vision from the other world. In receiving his
great vision, Black Elk received a great power, a "power to make over" (BES, p. 201), a
power to make things better for sick and suffering individuals and nations. He did not
know it at the time, but this vision would be the blueprint of his life. It would guide
him through times when he doubted his importance to his people. He had other visions, but
they all tied into the great vision he experienced as a child. Black Elk made incredible
achievements for his people. However, when he grew older and looked back on his life, he
did not see the powerful impact he had made on his people.

At the time Black Elk was growing up, there was much change among his people. The
Wasichus had started to move into Northern America, and invade the land where the native
people had lived. This caused the Native Americans to constantly move their tribes. Not
only did the Wasichus take over the land, but they also killed most of the bison. The
Natives used every part of the bison. When the Wasichus came, they would kill for sport,
leaving the Natives with extremely little food. According to Black Elk, the bison "were
the gift of a good spirit," they were "our strength" (BES, p. 39), and they were
understood to be "at the center of the nation's hoop" (BES, p. 206).

As a child, Black Elk was blessed by his grandfathers with a vision. In this vision he
saw the fate of his people. There were many symbolic creatures and elements in this
vision. There were four different types of horses, each placed in one of the four sacred
directions. There were also six Grandfathers. These Grandfathers presented Black Elk
with gifts to help him on his journey. A wooden cup, a bow and arrows, a white wing of
cleansing, an herb to heal, a sacred pipe a flowering stick and the power to make live and
to destroy were the tools that were given to him. Then, the Grandfathers showed Black Elk
what was to become of his people. He was shown a holy tree which once had been flowering
and was now gone. The people he was supposed to lead were thin and starving, and Black
Elk cried as he saw the fate of his people.

Once he was placed back in the world of his family he was enlightened yet confused. He
was unable to do anything with the powers he was given until he was older. As he came to
be a man, he was blessed with a gift of helping people. He worked curing illnesses until
he felt it was time that his life should take another turn.

In 1883, the last of the bison herds were killed. Black Elk could not understand why the
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