Heȟáka Sápa (Black Elk) (c. December 1863 - August 17 or August 19, 1950)[1] was a famous Wičháša Wakȟáŋ (Medicine Man or Holy Man) of the Oglala Lakota (Sioux). He was a second cousin of Crazy Horse.


Black Elk participated, at about the age of twelve, in the Battle of Little Big Horn of 1876, and was injured in the Wounded Knee Massacre in 1890.

In 1887, Black Elk traveled to England with Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show,[2] an unpleasant experience he described in chapter 20 of Black Elk Speaks.[3]

Black Elk married his first wife, Katie War Bonnett, in 1892. She became a Catholic, and all three of their children were baptized as Catholic. After her death in 1903, he too was baptized, taking the name Nicholas Black Elk and serving as a catechist. He continued to serve as a spiritual leader among his people, seeing no contradiction in embracing what he found valid in both his tribal traditions concerning Wakan Tanka and those of Christianity. He remarried in 1905 to Anna Brings White, a widow with two daughters. Together they had three more children and remained married until she died in 1941.

Towards the end of his life, Black Elk revealed the story of his life, and a number of sacred Sioux rituals to John Neihardt and Joseph Epes Brown for publication, and his accounts have won wide interest and acclaim. He also claimed to have had several visions in which he met the spirit that guided the universe.


The visions and teachings of Black Elk are honored and studied by The National Spiritist Church of Alberta (Native Spirituality Church) in Canada.


Books by Black Elk
  • The Sixth Grandfather: Black Elk's Teachings Given to John G. Neihardt, edited by Raymond J. Demallie, University of Nebraska Press; new edition, 1985
  • Black Elk Speaks: being the life story of a holy man of the Oglala Sioux (as told to John G. Neihardt), Bison Books, 2004 (originally published in 1932);

Black Elk SpeaksPDF (1.49 MiB)

  • The Sixth Grandfather: Black Elk's Teachings Given to John G. Neihardt, edited by Raymond J. Demallie, University of Nebraska Press; new edition, 1985
  • The Sacred Pipe: Black Elk's Account of the Seven Rites of the Oglala Sioux (as told to Joseph Epes Brown), MJF Books, 1997
  • Spiritual Legacy of the American Indian (as told to Joseph Epes Brown), World Wisdom, 2007
Books about Black Elk
  • Black Elk: Holy Man of the Oglala, by Michael F. Steltenkamp
  • Nicholas Black Elk: Medicine Man, Missionary, Mystic, by Michael F. Steltenkamp, University of Oklahoma Press; 2009. ISBN 0-8061-4063-1
  • The Sixth Grandfather: Black Elk's Teachings Given to John G. Neihardt, edited by Raymond J. DeMallie; 1985
  • Black Elk and Flaming Rainbow: Personal Memories of the Lakota Holy Man, by Hilda Neihardt, University of Nebraska Press, 2006. ISBN 0-8032-8376-8
  • Black Elk’s Religion: The Sun Dance and Lakota Catholicism, by Clyde Holler, Syracuse University Press; 1995
  • Black Elk: Colonialism and Lakota Catholicism, by Damian Costello
  • Black Elk Reader, edited by Clyde Holler, Syracuse University Press; 2000

VHS Video and DVD

  • Writings of Black Elk (C-SPAN, 2001) ID: 165060. From the jacket: The program, telecast from the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, contained portions of an interview with Black Elk’s great-granddaughter, a re-enactment of the battle, and looked at several artifacts from the site. Length: 2:32.
  • Black Elk (C-SPAN, 2001) ID: 165105. From the jacket: Ms. Black Elk spoke about her great grandfather, his impact on U.S. history, Native American history, and tribal culture. Length: 0:34.
  • Native Spirit and the Sun Dance Way, DVD documentary, 2007, World Wisdom.


External links

This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at Black Elk. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.

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