Black Elk

Nicholas Black Elk (1863-1950) was a Lakota holy man revered by both Lakota traditionalists and Christians alike. While both sides "claim" him as "theirs" (see recommended reading) , all agree that his remarkable vision helped preserve Lakota culture. The child of a long line of medicine men, Black Elk received a days-long vision at the age of nine. "In this vision he had been shown a sacred hoop of peoples—all peoples living together under one mother and father, i.e. universal peace—and Black Elk had been given the burden to making this vision “go out”."² The Life of Black Elk Interviewed by poet John Neilhardt for Black Elk Speaks and 16 years later by ethnologist Joseph Epes Brown for The Sacred Pipe, He?áka Sápa's (Black Elk) life began in treaty violations and warfare as the tribes fought to maintain autonomy on their own lands, thru the establishment of the reservations, and into the period that set up the American Indian Movement of the 1970's. He was present at Custer's defeat at the Battle of Little Big Horn and the army's crushing response to the peaceful Ghost Dance gathering at Wounded Knee. In between, he toured with Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show. After the Massacre of Wounded Knee, he became active as a catechist in the Roman Catholic church. Most accounts indicate that he was able to straddle the gap between the cultures and found a way to live both a fully Christian and fully Lakota life.

Re-printed from Pilgrim Debi Collett.


This helps us to save the world from being imprisoned in power, greed and  prejudiced paradigms of Christianity.  To restore the spiritual disciplines of the life-giving Way of Jesus among a new generation.



The Earth Prayer

 Grandfather, Great Spirit, once more behold me on earth and lean to hear my feeble voice. You lived first, and you are older than all need, older than all prayer. All things belong to you -- the two-legged, the four-legged, the wings of the air, and all green things that live.

You have set the powers of the four quarters of the earth to cross each other. You have made me cross the good road and road of difficulties, and where they cross, the place is holy. Day in, day out, forevermore, you are the life of things. Hey! Lean to hear my feeble voice. At the center of the sacred hoop you have said that I should make the tree to bloom

It may be that some little root of the sacred tree still lives. Nourish it then That it may leaf And bloom And fill with singing birds! Hear me, that the people may once again Find the good road And the shielding tree.¹


Black Elk


Brendan’s  Return Voyage: A New American Dream – Indigenous, Post-Colonial and Celtic Theology (wipf&stock)




Posted at 10:22am on 13th November 2023
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