Black Elk Speaks is the story of the Lakota visionary and healer Nicholas Black Elk (1863–1950) and his people during the momentous twilight years of the nineteenth century. Black Elk met the distinguished poet, writer, and critic John G. Neihardt (1881–1973) in 1930 on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota and chose Neihardt to tell his story. Neihardt understood and conveyed Black Elk’s experiences in this powerful and inspirational message for all humankind.
When Black Elk received his great vision, white settlers were invading the Lakotas’ homeland, decimating buffalo herds, and threatening to extinguish the Lakotas’ way of life. The Lakotas fought fiercely to retain their freedom and way of life, a dogged resistance that resulted in a remarkable victory at the Little Bighorn and an unspeakable tragedy at Wounded Knee. Black Elk Speaks offers much more than a precious glimpse of a vanished time, however. As related by Neihardt, Black Elk’s searing visions of the unity of humanity and the earth have made this book a venerated spiritual classic. Whether appreciated as the poignant tale of a Lakota life, a history of a Native nation, or an enduring spiritual testament, Black Elk Speaks is unforgettable.
This new edition features two additional essays by John G. Neihardt that further illuminate his experience with Black Elk; an essay by Alexis Petri, great-granddaughter of John G. Neihardt, that celebrates Neihardt’s remarkable accomplishments; and a look at the legacy of the special relationship between Neihardt and Black Elk, written by Lori Utecht, editor of Knowledge and Opinion: Essays and Literary Criticism of John G. Neihardt.