Essay on Black Elk Speaks

Essay on Black Elk Speaks

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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. In excerpts from the novel of his life story Black Elk Speaks, he is able to relate the differences in the ways of life from his people and the white settlers. Although he lived in the late 1800s, he is able to make reference to issues that are relevant to us today. His observations display issues such as human bonds, ethics, economics, and politics. He describes how the excessive acquisitiveness of one society led to the cultural displacement of another.

     The Native American culture revolved around a circle, or what black Elk referrers to as their nation’s hoop. The flowering tree is the center of the hoop. The flowering tree is symbolic of growth and prosperity for all the people in the tribe. It is equally shared between all the members of the tribe. “Everything an Indian does is in a circle, and that is because the power of the world always works in circles, and everything tries to be round” (APT 315). The flowering tree at the center of the circle was nourished by the seasons, which also occur in a circular pattern. Black Elk also makes reference to the sky and the earth being round, the moon and the sun setting in a circle as well as both being round. The wind blows in circular whirls. A person’s life from childhood to death is circular (APT 315). The reference to a circle of how Indian’s lived is symbolic because in a circle, everything that goes around comes around. Everything is shared amongst the citizens. Even thought there were members of the tribe that were regarded as chiefs or held high ranks, they still slept in tepees just like every other person. Rank was not granted by how much a person had; it was granted by the ability to help other members of ...


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... are the most powerful nation so we can make the decisions that benefit our country the most. Since the white settlers in the 1800’s were more powerful than the Indians, they should take their land. This explains why species evolve and change over time. Many people feel that these changes are a good thing. It is possible that the stories told by Black Elk have been altered since his story was passed down for so many years. Any text that has been through the process that Black Elk Speaks has raises questions of authenticity.

     There is no right or wrong on how people or cultures should live. If greed is a part of human nature, than we act as normal human beings. Everyone is different on how they view the world. While I feel that it is impossible for our society today to live as the Native Americans did, I believe that it is possible to be more aware of what we have, and how fortunate we are. I believe it is possible to incorporate some of the ideas and ways of life that Black Elk discussed into our society today. This is feasible on a domestic and global level.

Bibliography

American Political Thought-Dolbeare, Kenneth and Cummings, Michael
Copyright 2004 by CQ press

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