When I was a young college student just laying in the aisles of the old dusty library napping on chairs and awaking with pages stuck to my drooling mouth... one of the most profound books I read was Black Elk Speaks about an Oglala Lakota medicine man and the mysterious Ghost Dance of the Sioux.
"Sometimes dreams are wiser than waking." -Black Elk Speaks
Black Elk Speaks is a 1932 book by American poet and author John G. Neihardt but became famous when Swiss psychologist Carl Jung had the book translated into German in 1955 called: Ich Rufe Mein Volk or 'I Call My People.' This was how I discovered the book, reading Joseph Campbell which led be to Jung which led me to the side tangent of Black Elk Speaks. Thank God... for tangents.
"Grown men an learn from very little children for the hearts of little children are pure. Therefore, the Great Spirit may show to them many things which older people miss." -Black Elk Speaks
Neihardt, the poet laureate of Nebraska, received special permission in 1930 to go onto the Pine Ridge Reservation to meet the Oglala holy man Black Elk. Through the translation of his son, Flying Hawk, he described a series of visions about the earth and all mankind. Black Elk was 13 years old at the 1876 Battle of Little Big Horn and also survived the 1890 Wounded Knee Massacre. The old wise man also shared many Oglala rituals he performed as a healer.
"There can never be peace between nations until there is first known that true peace which is within the souls of men." -Black Elk Speaks
I'm struggling to know what a book means nowadays. Black Elk and the wisdom of the Sioux have been reduced to nothing more than a T-shirt slogan in a roadside trinket shop. I don't know what is important to anyone anymore. I spent years abroad defending America to anyone who would criticize her saying... there is a wealth of knowledge here, of goodness, of thoughtfulness. America is more than just the foolishness reported on TV, but those words fall on deaf ears now. Might as well stick my complains on a T-shirt and hang me out to dry with the rest of them.