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Black Elk's Vision: A Lakota Story

3.8  ·  Rating details ·  309 Ratings  ·  80 Reviews
Told from the Native American point of view, Black Elk’s Vision provides a unique perspective on American history.   From recounting the visions Black Elk had as a young boy, to his involvement in the battles of Little Big Horn and Wounded Knee, as well as his journeys to New York City and Europe with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, this biographical account of Black Elk—an ...more
Hardcover, 48 pages
Published March 1st 2010 by Harry N. Abrams (first published February 1st 2010)
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I recently purchased this picture book biography by S.D. Nelson. Black Elk's Vision: A Lakota Story tells the story of Black Elk's life with a focus on the vision that Black Elk had when he was nine years old. The vision was something that shaped his life. Throughout the text, Nelson refers to the vision and the way it affected how Black Elk saw the world and his place in it. There is a lot of tough material presented in the book. Readers will be faced with injustices, death, grief and many diff ...more
Robyn J
Apr 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: multicultural
Nelson, S.D. (2010). Black Elk’s Vision: a Lakota Story. New York, NY. Abrams Books for Young Readers.

Text to Self: I grew up near the Rosebud Sioux Reservation and have been fascinated with the Native American culture since I was a young child. I remember riding my paint pony and pretending that I was living on the planes with my people. I had a pair of moccasins, I grew my hair out so that I could wear it in braids and pretended to speak Lakota. At that time there were not many books written
Jun 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
Written for young adults... a good perspective piece to help us understand life and to share information about the Lakota culture. A lot of information and I especially appreciated the timeline in the back of the book to help us understand the historical pieces. I liked the mix of art and historical photos as well.
Oct 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
In my work I pick up a LOT of interesting tidbits from nonfiction children’s books, and I often wish that I had been exposed to more nonfiction when I was a child. Certainly I would be a better-informed adult! Well, better late than never, right? Nonfiction has a certain punch because it deals with reality. Nonfiction stories ring true and stay with us. My point is this: get compelling nonfiction into the hands of your students!

I recently picked up one such book, Black Elk’s Vision: A Lakota Sto
Jun 23, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: children-s-books
Here's the thing I love about informational picture books for children- they are a great starting place, even for grown-ups, for learning about things. There's lots of great pictures, not too much text, you can get the basics in 32-46 pages (the typical length of a picture book),and if they are really well done, i.e. the writing and pictures are good, then you are hooked!

S.D. Nelson, who is a member of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe of the Dakotas, intersperses his original artwork with historica
Victoria Taylor
Apr 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This historical biography is told through the eyes of a great Native American Black Elk. During the mid to late ninetieth century, Black Elk was known as the medicine man. When Black Elk was nine years old, the Wha-shi-choo (white people) came and invaded the Native American’s land in search of gold. The tribe was forced to leave their land. During the move, Black Elk came down with a fever and became very sick. With this sickness came a vision, which helped him throughout his life. He hid this ...more
Apr 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
Black Elk’s Vision is the true story of the Lakota medicine man Black Elk. When Black Elk was a young boy, he experienced visions telling him that humans had to choose between the power to give life and the power to destroy it. Black Elk had to figure out how to share this message as Europeans took over his land and destroyed his tribe’s hope.
The book recounts true events as the Native Americans involved understood them. It provides photos and resources that let the reader know that what he or
This picture book biography uses the Native American style of storytelling to describe the life of Black Elk who was born into the Sioux tribe in December 1863. Black Elk’s story is the tale of a young child growing up at at time of tremendous culture conflict and change as American settlers confiscated Native American lands and forced the tribes to culturally adapt to new ways of living and learn to survive under new circumstances. As a nine year old, Black Elk experienced his first vision and ...more
Mar 09, 2014 rated it liked it
This is an amazing and heart-breaking story from the mouth of Black Elk, on whom this book is based. As a young boy, Black Elk started having spiritual visions. Eventually, these visions would lead him to become a Medicine Man of his tribe—the Lakota, or Sioux tribe—with a Great Vision of hope to rival the destruction wrought by white settlers and Manifest Destiny. This narrative is largely the biography of Black Elk’s life—including his involvement in victory over Lieutenant Colonel Custer in 1 ...more
Dec 05, 2012 added it
Nelson, S.D. (2010). Black Elk’s Vision: A Lakota Story. New York: Abrams. 56 pp. ISBN 978-0-8109-8399-1 (Hard Cover); $16.99.

Black Elk's vision does not flinch from the truth but neither does it victimize the Lakota people. Extensive notes and references, including a detailed timeline, provide students with a rich historical document that tells the story of the Lakota people. The illustrations are gorgeous and the text is liberally sprinkled with quotes directly from Black Elk. Beginning with t
Jul 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A 2011 NCTE Orbis Pictus recommended book. Black Elk's story is told from the native American perspective. Black Elk tells the story of his people, the Lakota Sioux, from the time of his childhood to adulthood. He talks about his journey as a child to the Spirit World where he was blessed with a Great Vision involving the tree of life, a vision that could unite all people. A vision that lead him to becoming a holy man and realizing that his purpose in life was to save his people and his Nation. ...more
Dec 15, 2010 rated it really liked it
From recounting the visions Black Elk had as a young boy, to his involvement in the battles of Little Big Horn and Wounded Knee, as well as his journeys to New York City and Europe with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, this biographical account of Black Elk —an Oglala-Lakota medicine man (1863–1950)—follows him from childhood through adulthood. S. D. Nelson tells the story of Black Elk through the medicine man’s voice, bringing to life what it was like to be Native American in the mid-to-late nine ...more
Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
This story of the life of Black Elk, focusing on his mystical visions, seems to be taken from his book, Black Elk Speaks, which I read years ago. He describes how he first heard the "spirit voices" when he was 4, and talks about how they influenced his actions throughout his life. The text is illustrated with a mixture of drawings and photos from the period, my favorite of which is a photo of young Black Elk dressed in a dance costume. He was present at the Battle of the Little Bighorn where Cus ...more
Julie Scott
Sep 29, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: young-adult-lit
Black Elk is a Native American young boy that is growing up in the plains of North America. As a young child, he had a vision from the Six Grandfathers that gave him the gift of hope for his people. Black Elk struggled with how to share this message with his people as Wha-shi-choos (White men) were taking over his tribe’s land. Finally after sharing his vision with his people, the circle of life on the reservation seems to be all the Native Americans have left.

Black Elk’s Vision: A Lakota Story
Oct 16, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: 11-12-bluebonnet
This book includes a nice mix of paintings and photography as illustration.

A very nice timeline, notes, and bibliography prove that the author did his due diligence with research. The index will help researchers to find information quickly.

This quote found in the "About this Book" section sums up what the Black Elk taught us all, and what the text of the book will tell you. "All human beings have the power of choice. Through our actions we choose either to destroy life or to give life. It is no
Black Elk's Vision is the true story of Lakota Medicine Man Black Elk. When he was young he had a vision of six grandfathers offering him the choice between a life of peace and a life of violence. Throughout his life he tried to tell people of his vision and bring it forth. Unfortunately, the White Men or Wha-shi-choos didn't allow for a life of peace. Black Elk was part of many battles that wiped out the Indians and left them on reservations. He traveled with Wild Bill's Wild West Show across t ...more
Jul 22, 2013 added it
Shelves: children-s-lit
Fiction Twin Text:How I Became a Ghost by Tim Tingle

The fiction selection extends the non-fiction book by giving another voice to the Native American struggle against settlers in the 1800s. The narrator of How I Became a Ghost tells the story of a 10 year old Choctaw boy that does not survive the Trail of Tears. The students will be able to compare the struggles of Black Elk and the Lakota people with the Choctaw Tribe. Through the books the students w
Dec 13, 2010 rated it really liked it
We chose this title for our Mock Caldecott list, not because it was prominent on other lists but because of our special interest in social justice in general and images of Native Americans in children's literature in particular. This is an fairly long but well-written biography for older elementary and middle school readers, illustrated with archival photographs and also original paintings by the author. Both combine with the text to give an accurate portrayal of the life and times of Black Elk, ...more
Oct 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography
This is the life story of Black Elk, a Lakota-Oglala medicine man, who lived from 1863 until 1950. He fought in the battles of the Little Bighorn and Wounded Knee, where he witnessed the deaths of hundreds of men, women, and children. He also joined the Buffalo Bill's Wild West show, which took him to New York and Europe. The most extraordinary fact about Black Elk was that, as a young boy, he had a vision which helped shape his life.

I feel young adult readers will enjoy this biography. The aut
Jul 07, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: texas-bluebonnet
"A biography of Lakota-Oglala medicine man Black Elk, from his childhood vision which shaped his life through his battles with the whites and his travels with Buffalo Bill's Wild West show."

Setting: mid- to late 19th century, early 20th century Native America. The book is written in first person which draws the reader in for a closer look at Native American culture. The use of earth tones, vibrant primary colors, Indian motifs, page borders and author's artwork, contribute much to setting of th
Julie (Manga Maniac Cafe)
May 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
4/4.5 stars

I found Black Elk’s Vision a compelling read. Interspersing colorful acrylics with vintage photos of the events described in Black Elk’s narrative, I found this book hard to put down. I also found myself going back to key passages, illustrations, and photos to ensure that I absorbed everything. From the photograph of Black Elk on the cover to the portrait of his family near the end, this is a haunting book. Black Elk believed that all of us have a part in the circle of life. We can al
May 06, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: ecasl
S.D. Nelson has written more than a few books about his Native American people and their history. This is a really powerful and moving story about a young man's dream he chooses not to share with his people. I am moved by the story of how the dream is not shared until the very bitter end and his people have lost all hope. Lots of room for discussion on why not tell, how do you know when it is the right time to share. Can one person be responsible for one nation?

Beautiful pictures and sepia toned
Allison Parker
Nov 11, 2010 rated it really liked it
Told as a first-person narrative, "Black Elk's Vision" tells the story of a how a young man is chosen and guided by the spirits in a volatile time in Native American History. The reader experiences the vision through a beautiful description as well as vivid imagery. Both stylized artwork and black and white photography of Black Elk, his people, and the nation are used, complementing and contrasting the depictions of Lakota life, white people's destruction and domination, and the spirit world. Th ...more
Jul 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
Audience: Primary
Genre: Non-fiction
Fiction Twin Text: Magic Tree House (#18): Buffalo Before Breakfast by Mary Pope Osborne
Explain how the fiction twin text extends/enhances the non-fiction selection: The Magic Tree House series is a familiar series to youngsters. In this book, Jack and Annie travel back to the great plains of the early 19th century where they meet a Lakota boy. Jack and Annie learn about the clothing, customs, and daily lives of the Lakotas and their lost land and lifestyle. Ja
Dec 23, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: childrens-ya
I loved the balance of art work and real photos in this children’s book about a Lakota, Black Elk. It was interesting that the story was told as historical fiction instead of non-fiction, but sometimes it made the flow of photos awkward. It seemed like the captions and the story were aimed at different age groups. Overall, mostly interesting. Some generalizations made by the author irked me because they didn’t tell the whole story as understood by historians, but how specific can you get in 50 p ...more
Lauren Stoolfire
Nelson uses Black Elk’s own words and other historical documentation to really relay the situation he would have faced growing up as a Native American during the late 1800s and early 1900s from his perspective. It includes an index, notes, bibliography, timeline, author’s note and an about section. It also has a few real photos mixed in with the pencil and acrylic paintings. For children, I think it is important to discuss preconceived notions of Native Americans they have and whether or not the ...more
Dec 26, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2013_sequoyah, 2013
This picture book is a great history of Lakota medicine man, Black Elk. We loved the mix of beautiful artwork with real photos throughout to help us get to know the history of the Lakota people. My son, 7, did not like all of the war, fighting and death that the book details, but he agreed that he is glad to know the history of what happened. Black Elk's vision is definitely one that can be shared amongst all and continue to hope for the tree of life not destruction.

I also enjoyed the author's
Mar 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: tween
Nelson's book recounts the encampment and slaughter of Native Americans by the Wasichu, or White People. Told in first-person, Nelson does a beautiful job of imagining how Black Elk, a respected holy man of the Lakota tribe, would have described the events that led to the eventual slaughter of his people. The language Nelson chose is delicate and thoughtful, never condescending. The accompanying illustrations are beautiful as is the front cover. The included photographs help to ground the story ...more
Mar 18, 2010 rated it really liked it
In 1932, writer John Neilhardt interviewed Lakota medicine man and legend, Black Elk, and published Black Elk Speaks--the story of the decline of the Plain Indians and their removal to reservations in the late 1800's. S.D. Nelson uses Black Elk's words, and historical records to tell the story of one man who saw hope for his people through his visions of the Spirit World.

Bold red backgrounds, authentic Lakota patterns and drawings, and black and white photographs enhance Black Elk's story and hi
W.H. Beck
Jul 05, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: nf-informational
The story of Black Elk through the medicine man’s voice, bringing to life what it was like to be Native American in the mid-to-late nineteenth century and early twentieth century. The Native people found their land overrun by the Wha-shi-choos, or White Man, the buffalo slaughtered for sport and to purposely eliminate their main food source, and their people gathered onto reservations. Through it all, Black Elk clung to his childhood visions that planted the seeds to help his people—and all peop ...more
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