"If any great religious classic has emerged in this century or on this continent, it must certainly be judged in the company of "Black Elk Speaks"...The most important aspect of the book, however, is not its effect on the non-Indian populace who ...
wished to learn something of the beliefs of the Plains Indians but upon the contemporary generation of young Indians who have been aggressively searching for roots of their own in the structure of universal reality. To them the book has become a North American bible of all tribes." - Vine Deloria, Jr. "The experience of Black Elk...comes to one great statement, which for me is a key statement to the understanding of myth and symbols." - Joseph Campbell in an interview with Bill Moyers, "The Power of Myth". His meeting with the Sioux holy man Black Elk, John G. Neihardt once said, was the most memorable experience of his life. In 1930, while working on the concluding poem of his Cycle of the West, Neihardt had gone to the Pine Ridge Reservation hoping to find "some old medicine man who had been active in the Messiah Movement and who might be induced to talk with me about the deeper spiritual significance of the matter." In Neihardt, Black Elk recognized the one who had been sent to learn what "was given to me for men." The next summer, in a long series of talks, Black Elk imparted his own life story and the story of the Oglala Sioux during the tragic decades of the Custer battle, the ghost dance, and the Wounded Knee massacre. "Black Elk Speaks", originally published in 1932, is venerated by many who have become alarmed at the declining spiritual and material quality of life in the age of computers and "Star Wars". While the elec-tronic media purvey fragmented images of tragic schisms, "Black Elk" offers an eloquent and profound vision of the unity of all creation.