Essay Black Elk: Uniting Christianity and the Lakota Religion

Essay Black Elk: Uniting Christianity and the Lakota Religion

Length: 3096 words (8.8 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Term Papers

Open Document

Essay Preview

Black Elk: Uniting Christianity and the Lakota Religion


The Battle at Little Bighorn River, the Massacre at Wounded Knee and the Buffalo Bill Show are historical events that even Europeans have in mind when they think about the Wild West and the difficult relationship between the first settlers and the Native American Indians. But what do these three events have in common? The easiest answer is that the Battle, the Massacre and the Buffalo Bill Show all involved Native Americans.

However, another answer is not so obvious, because it needs deeper knowlege: There was one small Indian, who was a participant in all three events. His name was Black Elk, and nobody would have known about him unless John Neihardt had not published Black Elk Speaks which tells about his life as a medicine man. Therefore, Black Elk is famous as the typical Indian who grew up in the traditional Plains life, had trouble with the Whites, and ended up in the reservation period. There is no question that even up to now his life sounds rather remarkable.

Nevertheless, his life becomes much more facinating when the fact is introduced that Black Elk converted to Catholicism and even became a catechist, afterwards. This completely does not fit into the sterotype of the frustrated reservation Indian, who spent his time with alcohol and gambling. Therefore, one question is emerging. How could Black Elk balance Native American spirituality with Western Christianity? This question directly leads us to the spiritual level of Black Elk’s life. As can be seen in the following, his religion changes in a natural development from his native Lakota religion to Catholicism.

However, in order to prove this, a good start is Black Elk's biography:

In December ...


... middle of paper ...


...Black Elk mentioned both as a way of leading to the birth of Jesus Christ (105).

Therefore, for Black Elk his native religion is a second parallel way to Christianity besides the way of the Israelites. This contradicts Holler's opinion that Black Elk united the Catholic Christianity and Lakota religion (Irvine 204). On the other hand, Black Elk's idea of the relationship between the two religions is much closer to Steinmetz, who said, that Black Elk integrated "the two religious traditions on a deep emotional and even unconscious level" (42).

Works Cited

Irvine, Lee. "Black Elk's Religion: The Sun Dance and Lacota's Catholicim." {American Culture and Research Journal}

Neihardt, John G. {Black Elk Speaks}. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1979.

Steltenkamp, Michael F. {Black Elk, Holy Man of the Oglala}. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1993.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Black Elk and the History of the Lakota Native American Essay

- ... After gold was discovered in the Black Hills, Chief Crazy Horse led a resistance against General George Crook in 1876. After Crook’s defeat, Chief Crazy Horse had his men join the central group of Sioux Native Americans led by Sitting Bull. It was at that campsite near the Little Bighorn River that the Sioux Native Americans defeated General George Custer. But soon after, Chief Crazy Horse was captured and accidentally killed (“ Black Elk”). This led to a shift of Sioux Native Americans which ultimately led them to the Pine Ridge Reservation....   [tags: injured, war, suffering, treatment]

Term Papers
680 words (1.9 pages)

Essay on Black Elk Speaks

- Black Elk Speaks      Greed is a large part of the American culture whether we realize it as a society or not. Many countries around the world view the United States as a selfish country that does what it wants on a global scale, and does not share or allocate its predominate wealth. I am very thankful and proud to be a citizen of this country. Even though I would risk my life to protect our country and its freedom, there are aspects about our civilization that I wish could be different. Black Elk, “a holy man and a warrior of the Lakota Nation Indians,” was a member of the Oglala Sioux tribe during the most horrific period for Native Americans in the Western part of the United States....   [tags: Black Elk Speaks Native American Essays]

Term Papers
1592 words (4.5 pages)

Don 't Proud And Rich Lakota Culture Essay

- Long before the white man first stepped onto North American soil there was a time when the land was sacred, the family was considered the center of life, everything was done with prayer, and man and nature lived in concert with one another. Seventh generation ranchers, Wayne and Alex Fredrick preserve the ways of their proud and rich Lakota culture by looking to their future in ranching through actions that speak of and honor their past. Their ranch, located on the Rosebud Indian Reservation, was started by Wayne’s great, great, great grandparents William Cordes and Emma Agnus Red War Bonnet in 1904....   [tags: Lakota people, Sioux, Rosebud Indian Reservation]

Term Papers
1230 words (3.5 pages)

Christianity : Christianity And Christianity Essay

- The world we live in is revolved around the beliefs and religions that individuals practice. Millions of people worship their idea of who God is to them, Christianity and Catholicism are the world’s biggest religions in today’s society with millions of followers who give their life for God. Both Christianity and Catholicism share the same beliefs and traditions, although Catholicism derived from Christianity both religions have their own differences which separates them from being alike. Christianity is mainly founded on the life, death, teachings, and resurrection of Jesus Christ....   [tags: Christianity, Jesus, Bible, Roman Catholic Church]

Term Papers
1615 words (4.6 pages)

The Romans and Christianity Essay

- Then and now religions shared common dimensions that provide society with a doctrine, narrative, ethics, ritual, experience and a social institution. These six dimensions that Ninian Smart derived spell out the framework for comparative study of religions1. The six dimensions hold true when comparing the daily routine Roman religious thought to modern Christianity. Interwoven into the core of both cultures is a strong unifying spirit that built a strong communal bond for its people. For the Romans, their religion was the religion of the state....   [tags: Christianity]

Term Papers
977 words (2.8 pages)

The Principles of Christianity Essay

- There has always been some sort of Christianity in history. Always new ways of doing things with each generation that comes of age. The changes that are made have not been with the idea of destroying the established ways but with bringing about a continuity to preserve what is now and what is new. This is known as the preservation of type or the first Note of fidelity of the existing developments of Christianity also known as the Principles of Christianity. There are many of these principles of Christianity, here are the basic nine: 1) The Principle of dogma, which are supernatural truths irrevocably committed to human language....   [tags: Christianity, ]

Term Papers
673 words (1.9 pages)

Essay about Constantine and Christianity

- What was the impact that Constantine had on Christianity after he conquered the Roman Empire. As a stone penetrating a tide of water, Constantine penetrated through pagan worship as he brought Christianity to the forefront after the great battle in the Roman Empire. It changed the way Romans worshiped and impacted their society as a whole. Christianity was brought to the fore front greatly due to the support of Constantine. With his help Romans had changed their Pagan views to Christian views while impacting society, education, and influence on the Roman Empire....   [tags: Christianity]

Term Papers
2152 words (6.1 pages)

Discussion of Black Elk Speaks Essay

- Discussion of Black Elk Speaks Black Elk was a holy man of the Oglala band of the Lakota Sioux nation. Black Elk interpreted his life as a holy man as "the story of a mighty vision" (BES, p. 2). As a child, Black Elk was blessed with a great vision from the other world. In receiving his great vision, Black Elk received a great power, a "power to make over" (BES, p. 201), a power to make things better for sick and suffering individuals and nations. He did not know it at the time, but this vision would be the blueprint of his life....   [tags: Papers]

Term Papers
595 words (1.7 pages)

Black Elk Speaks Essay

- Black Elk Speaks Black Elk Speaks is a novel based on the memories of Black Elk that he shared with a poet John Neihardt. Black Elk was an Oglala Sioux religious leader that had become a medicine man when he had had a vision in his teen age. Black Elk had already catholicized when he met Neihardt and was a catechist in reservations. He told Neihardt the story of his life so that it got eternalized and the future generations had the possibility to get to know the history of the Sioux. The novel gives us a good idea about the traditions, beliefs and way of life of the Lakota Indians as well as about the hardships that occurred for them when they had to defend their lands from the Wasichus as...   [tags: Poem Poetry Poet]

Free Essays
1695 words (4.8 pages)

Essay on Christianity

- "Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important" (C.S. Lewis). Christianity is a religion based on the life and teaching, in the New Testament, of Jesus. It is a type of religion that only believes in one God. People who follow this religion are called Christians. Most Christians believe that God is one eternal being who exists as three distinct, eternal, and indivisible persons: the Father, the Son (Jesus Christ the eternal Word), and the Holy Spirit....   [tags: religion christianity report]

Term Papers
1640 words (4.7 pages)