Ethical Teachings in John G. Neihardt’s Black Elk Speaks: Being the Life Story of a Holy Man of the Oglala Sioux





Ethical Teachings in John G. Neihardt’s Black Elk Speaks: Being the Life Story of a Holy Man of the Oglala Sioux

The book, Black Elk Speaks: Being the Life Story of a Holy Man of the Oglala Sioux, by John G. Neihardt is a narrative that possesses significant importance particularly in the evaluation of Native American culture and religion. Despite its historical scope, Black Elk Speaks provides a series of ethical teachings relevant to its religious focus. One of the main teachings offered involves the role that religious individuals assume in relation to the nurture of countries and individuals. Accordingly, the role that Black Elk assumes as the holy man represents more than a narrative based on a holy man. Instead, it is a narrative of the Lakota nations. With his role as the holy man, Black Elk shows that a single man cannot define or establish the experiences of people in a static manner. For instance, the character asserts that, “…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?” (Neihardt 1). Another ethical teaching evident in Black Elk Speaks is that people with influence should strive to create better situations since they possess the power to engage in such obligations. While gaining his vision, Black Elk, upon attaining a massive power, is convinced that the influence he gains comprises “a power to make over” (Neihardt 201). With such power, Black Elk believes that he is capable of initiating better circumstances for the ill and suffering persons as well as the nations. Lastly, the book shows that the responsibilities allocated to a leader or an influential person pose significant ramifications on other individuals based on whether they are applied or not. Hence, Black Elk asserts that, “Men and women and children I have cured of sickness with the power the vision they gave me; but my nation I could not help” (Neihardt 180).

Work Cited

Neihardt, John G. Black Elk Speaks: Being the Life Story of a Holy Man of the Oglala Sioux. Lincoln: Univ. of Nebraska, 1989. Print.

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