Kurt's Reviews > Black Elk Speaks: Being the Life Story of a Holy Man of the Oglala Sioux

Black Elk Speaks by Black Elk
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's review
Sep 01, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: history, native-american, non-fiction, biography

Anyone who knows me at all knows that I am an avid reader of Native American historical non-fiction. Over the years and throughout many of the books I have read I have come across references to Black Elk. He was not a major player in the pivotal events that resulted in the devastation of his people's (the Lakota's) lives and culture, but he was a witness to so much of it. Most importantly, he willingly opened up and shared his story with the author of this book who sought out his story.

Hearing the Lakota side of the stories of their battles with the U.S. to hold on to the land and to maintain the culture that they loved so much was so eye-opening and personal to me. My heart aches for the victims of this American holocaust.

After relating his personal experiences during the massacre at Wounded Knee, Black Elk unloads the sorrows of his heart in these tearful words:
And so it was over.

I did not know then how much was ended. When I look back now from this high hill of my old age, I can still see the butchered women and children lying heaped and scattered all along the crooked gulch 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. A people's dream died there. It was a beautiful dream.

And I, to whom so great a vision was given in my youth, -- you see me now a pitiful old man who has done nothing, for the nation's hoop is broken and scattered. There is no center any longer, and the sacred tree is dead.

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