Lakota medicine man Black Elk was born December 1, 1863. While we know the date of his birth, it’s uncertain exactly which state he was born in. His birthplace was born along the Little Powder River. That could have been in the state of Wyoming or in the state of Montana. He is most known for spiritual ideas but other aspects of his life were both down-to-earth and surprising. He married, had children, and at one point was a part of Buffalo Bill’s traveling show. With the troupe, he traveled to England, even performing for Queen Victoria.
A Native American Voice
He is most remembered for his vision of human life which is infused with Native American spirituality. He began to formulate his views about human life as a child. When he was 9 years old, he suffered a terrible illness and during that time experienced an elaborate vision of human life. Later on, he became a Roman Catholic and added Catholic spirituality to his Native American beliefs. In a series of conversations, the Nebraska poet laureate, John Neihardt, recorded his beliefs and experiences. The eventual result of these discussions was Black Elk Speaks, which is an important historical book, still very much in print.
Black Elk-Neihardt Park is a unique park and literary site in Blair, Nebraska, which highlights the collaboration which produced the classic Native American book. The park has original art and sculpture inspired by this important work.
Black Elk-Neihardt Park is the third stop on our Nebraska Trail!
Rebecca Blake Beech