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Black Elk Quotes


A famous Wichasha Wakan (Medicine Man or Holy Man) and Heyoka of the Oglala Lakota (Sioux).
(1863 - 1950)

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A good nation I will make live.
 

After the horse dance was over, it seemed that I was above the ground and did not touch it when I walked.
 

Also, as I lay there thinking of my vision, I could see it all again and feel the meaning with a part of me like a strange power glowing in my body; but when the part of me that talks would try to make words for the meaning, it would be like fog and get away from me.
 

And as he spoke of understanding, I looked up and saw the rainbow leap with flames of many colors over me.
 

And I say the sacred hoop of my people was one of the many hoops that made one circle, wide as daylight and as starlight, and in the center grew one mighty flowering tree to shelter all the children of one mother and one father.
 

And if the great fear had not come upon me, as it did, and forced me to do my duty, I might have been less good to the people than some man who had never dreamed at all, even with the memory of so great a vision in me.
 

And when I breathed, my breath was lightning.
 

And while I stood there I saw more than I can tell and I understood more than I saw; for I was seeing in a sacred manner the shapes of all things in the spirit, and the shape of all shapes as they must live together like one being.
 

But I think I have done right to save the vision in this way, even though I may die sooner because I did it; for I know the meaning of the vision is wise and beautiful and good; and you can see that I am only a pitiful old man after all.
 

Grandfather, Great Spirit, once more behold me on earth and lean to hear my feeble voice.
 

Grown men can 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.
[Family]
 

I cured with the power that came through me.
 

I had a vision with which I might have saved my people, but I had not the strength to do it.
 

I know now what this meant, that the bison were the gift of a good spirit and were our strength, but we should lose them, and from the same good spirit we must find another strength.
 

I looked about me once again, and suddenly the dancing horses without number changed into animals of every kind and into all the fowls that are, and these fled back to the four quarters of the world from whence the horses came, and vanished.
 

I looked below and saw my people there, and all were well and happy except one, and he was lying like the dead - and that one was myself.
 

I think I have told you, but if I have not, you must have understood, that a man who has a vision is not able to use the power of it until after he has performed the vision on earth for the people to see.
[Able]
 

I was four years old then, and I think it must have been the next summer that I first heard the voices.
 

If you will read again what is written, you will see how it was.
 

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?
 


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