Book Reviews

Black Elk

Joe Jackson, professor of creative writing at Old Dominion University of Norfolk in Virginia, has written an in-depth and extraordinary history of Lakota warfare with the U S and settlers.

Millions around the world know Black Elk, the Native American holy man, from his testimonial Black Elk Spaks.

In this sweeping book, based on lengthy interviews conducted by poet John Neihardt, the author provides the definitive biographical account of a Lakota’s dramatic life, converged with events of the American West.

The Sioux were warriors and hunters and have been living off the land in their traditional ways for millennia until Christian missionaries and American army arrived and literally “confiscated” their lands, first by “treaties“ which were forgotten even before the ink had dried on the documents.

Then the American army used overwhelming and lethal force, in addition the government established policies to systematically starve Sioux.

Treaties were routinely ignored. To this missionary added more confusion by trying to convert Sioux to Christianity, especially to Catholicism, or some other religious sect.

Black Elk’s account of the life of Plain’s Indians at the close of the 19th century tells how the Lakota people reacted, and followed his vision.

He lived a turbulent and highly interesting life, travelling to Europe with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show, dancing his way through the Untied Kingdom, France and Germany.

He witnessed the catastrophe of Wounded Knee, but never advocated violence.

Black Elk converted to the Catholic faith and became a preacher to facilitate the conversion of other Sioux to Catholicism.

This book manifests Black Elk`s wisdom and provides great insight to the people and traditions destroyed by the American government fot eh day.

On December 14, 1967 the told the senate subcommittee on Indian

Education “ We love Indian ways. But to get along in this world, the white man tells us that we cannot be what we were born to be.”

Highly recommended to understand the North American Indian way of thinking, and communing with nature.

Read this book, think about its content, debate with like-minded friends, and try to understand the Indian way.

 

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