Published on March 9, 2011 by Aquarius
Black Elk (c. December 1863 – August 17 or August 19, 1950) was a famous Medicine Man (or Holy Man) of the Oglala Lakota (Sioux). He was Heyoka and a second cousin of Crazy Horse.
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As a young member of the Oglala Lakota (Sioux) tribe in 1876, Black Elk witnessed the Battle of Little Bighorn, in which Sioux forces led by Chiefs Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse dealt a crushing defeat to a battalion of U.S. soldiers led by Lieutenant Colonel George A. Custer. In the 1880s, Black Elk toured with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show before returning to the Pine Ridge Reservation established for the Oglala in South Dakota. After the massacre of more than 200 Sioux at Wounded Knee Creek in late 1890 effectively put an end to Native American military resistance in the West, Black Elk remained at Pine Ridge, where he later converted to Christianity. In 1930, he began telling his story to the writer John Neihardt; the result was “Black Elk Speaks” (1932), a vivid and affecting chronicle of Lakota history and spiritual traditions.