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...