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Publisher's Summary

The famous life story of the Lakota healer and visionary, Nicholas Black Elk.

Widely hailed as a spiritual classic, this inspirational and unfailingly powerful story reveals the life and visions of the Lakota healer Nicholas Black Elk (1863–1950) and the tragic history of his Sioux people during the epic closing decades of the Old West. In 1930, the aging Black Elk met a kindred spirit, the famed poet, writer, and critic John G. Neihardt (1881–1973) on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. The Lakota elder chose Neihardt to share his visions and life with the world. Neihardt understood and today Black Elk is known to all.

Black Elk’s remarkable great vision came to him during a time of decimation and loss, when outsiders were stealing the Lakotas’ land, slaughtering buffalo, and threatening their age-old way of life. As Black Elk remembers all too well, the Lakotas, led by such legendary men as Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull, fought unceasingly for their freedom, winning a world-renowned victory at the Little Bighorn and suffering unspeakable losses at Wounded Knee.

Black Elk Speaks however is more than the epic history of a valiant Native nation. It is beloved as a spiritual classic because of John Neihardt’s sensitivity to Black Elk’s resounding vision of the wholeness of earth, her creatures, and all of humanity. Black Elk Speaks is a once-in-a-lifetime read: the moving story of a young Lakota boy before the reservation years, the unforgettable history of an American Indian nation, and an enduring spiritual message for us all.

The premier edition features the first-ever annotated edition of Black Elk’s story, done by renowned Lakota scholar Raymond J. DeMallie, the original Standing Bear illustrations and new commentary on them, new maps of the world of Black Elk Speaks, and a revised index.

©2008 The John G. Neihardt Trust (P)2014 Skyyrim Studios

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Robert
  • Coatesville, IN, United States
  • 03-14-14

A book that will change your life...

Would you listen to Black Elk Speaks again? Why?

This is a book that I will be relistening to and rereading over and over again the rest of my life. It is so full of fascinating detail about another culture, spiritual insight and wisdom that I will get more out of it every time I listen to it.

What did you like best about this story?

The spirituality of the hoop of the world. The ending when Neihardt takes Black Elk up Harney Peak one last night.

Which character – as performed by Robin Neihardt – was your favorite?

Black Elk

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes. It is easy to listen to RobinNeihardt's voice so the fascinating book comes through well.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Tale of tears

The greatest and saddest story I've listen to, well captured by Flaming Rainbow. How badly The People were treated, and the constant soup of lies they were forced to eat. Do not listen if you are not ready to hear America's dark history. What strikes me is how surprised people are to hear about the freedoms lost to our Govt today. Read and listen to the history of your Grandfathers folks; don't think that what was done to The People before wont be done to you tomorrow.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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loved it!

This is by far the best book I've ever read about Native American culture. A must-read for anyone interesting in the spiritual practices of the Native American Indians.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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An epic and important story

This is a spiritual diary about the struggles of the aboriginal people in the U.S. It is honest about suffering and struggles of these people

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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A haunting story

To hear the words of Black Elk is so moving and sad indeed! May his vision yet be realized...for all.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Insight full, packed full of meaning ...

If you could sum up Black Elk Speaks in three words, what would they be?

Life & Times of a True Native American

Who was your favorite character and why?

Black Elk ... simple, understandable use of language but with tremendous meaning in every word. You can appreciate his life story simply as an autobiography or you can quickly find the deep understanding and meaning therein.

Have you listened to any of Robin Neihardt’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

The narration is VERY dry and formal, BUT this is appropriate for the topic and the story.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes, I listened to the entire book in one sitting but I plan to revisit sections in the future and dig deeper.

Any additional comments?

I think a reader could use this an entre into the Native American spiritual perspective, but I think you could also use this much later in your research and growth on a much deeper level.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • jim holt
  • cordova, tn United States
  • 08-24-18

An Essential and Timeless Piece of Work

I’ve always enjoyed biographies but this one stands out and defies category. If I were in charge of education it would be required reading in American history, philosophy, religious studies and classic literature. It is the story of Black Elk, a holy man of the Oglala Sioux, as translated into English by the Nebraska poet Richard Neihardt. It begins saying:
“My friend, I am going to tell you the story of my life, as you wish; and if it were only the story of my life I think I would not tell it; for what is one man that he should make much of his winters, even when they bend him like a heavy snow? So many other men have lived and shall live that story to be be grass upon the hills.  It is the story of all life that is holy and is good to tell and of us two leggeds sharing in it with the four leggeds and the wings of the air and all green things for these are children of one mother and their father is one Spirit.”

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  • Susan
  • Victor, IA United States
  • 08-17-18

Wonderful beyond belief!!

This book was amazing! I felt as though I was there as it was narrated. I don't think I would have had the same experience reading it.

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All water protectors should read this

Black Elk's words were for future generations and help explain questions I had only considered momentarily.

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All North Americans should read this

It’s a great and horrible story of a fall of a nation once great. And even that it is perceived “natural” that some nations conquer others in the course of the history, it is horrifying to learn the details through the eyes of those who witnessed it.

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  • D. D. Pianta
  • 12-30-17

Sad but amazing. it should be taught in schools.

sad, amazing, inspirational. it should definitely be taught in schools for everyone to know the truth

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  • Mrs. Sandra A. Geary
  • 03-26-16

fantastic book recommend to anyone

This is such a great book to read and gives a great insight to the American Indians way of life and the struggle they faced in the genocide of their culture. Black Elk your words are forever held in my heart may the great spirit bring into being your vision of the sacred hoops of all nations.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful