Black Elk Speaks as told to John G. Neihardt


Genre: Autobiography/History

Page Count: 334

Publication Date: Originally 1932 but revised 2008

Summary: Black Elk, a Lakota warrior and medicine man, shares the visions that he experienced that predicted the destruction of his people’s culture and way of life.  He recounts the history he lived through as Wasichus (white men) forced the Native Americans to fight for their land and eventually move onto reservations.

Recommended: Yes!  I really enjoyed this book and felt it to be both incredibly powerful and sad.  However, many of my friends who have read this book said that they found it hard to understand and cumbersome to get through.  I think I had a leg up on them for at least two reasons: I have previously read Crazy Horse: The Strange Man of the Oglalas by Mari Sandoz and so I already knew a lot of the history that the book talks about AND I read the premier edition of Black Elk Speaks, which included helpful side notes and authentic drawings.

If You’re Offended: No problems here.

Noteworthy Excerpts: “Dead men and horses and wounded Indians were scattered all the way up the hill, and their blood was frozen, for a storm had come up and it was very cold and getting colder all the time.”     “I went on helping the sick, and there were many, for the measles had come among the people who were already weak because of hunger. There were more sick people that winter when the whooping cough came and killed little children who did not have enough to eat.”

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