Robin's Reviews > Black Elk Speaks

Black Elk Speaks by John G. Neihardt
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it was amazing

This was assigned reading in High School in the 1970s. I was very disappointed my own kids were never assigned to read it in the 2000s. I re-read it several times, and it had a profound impact on the rest of my life.

The early chapters are a bit hard to get through - many complex dream sequences. Reading them does develop the historical "character" (it would be harder to understand Black Elk's influence as an aged wise man without having read the fever-induced-hallucinatory chapters of his near-death youth). The climax at Wounded Knee brings tears, just thinking about the chapter, decades later.

As trivia - Many years ago, when I was re-reading Black Elk Speaks at my grandmother's home in Forsyth, MO, my dad looked over my shoulder (yeah, as if DAD is going to know about Black Elk, I thought). He then asked me if I remembered John Neihardt... or was I too young to remember he was dear friend of my great grandfather, and sat on that couch (5 feet away) every weekend in retirement? (Both my great Grandfather Freeland and John G. Niehardt served in the US Bureau of Indian Affairs, and retired near each other in Taney County Missouri). At a meta level, it taught me to listen more to people like my grandparents, and my father, to capture the wisdom as Neihardt tried to do with Black Elk. You can't go back and change the wars of the past, but you can learn to appreciate elders today.
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
December 21, 2019 – Shelved

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