#633: The World and Vision of Lakota Medicine Man Black Elk
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Today is the author biography of this holy Man Amas. Joe Jackson in his book is Black Elk, a life of an American visionary. We begin our conversation with the background of the Sioux Lakota Indians including how the introduction the horse turn them into formidable hunters and warriors and how their spirituality influenced their warfare Joe Dinner. Dinner uses to Black Elkin and foles division that he had as a boy which lead him to follow in his family's footsteps by becoming a medicine man and guide him for the rest of his life. We didn't take detours into the seminal battles to the US government and Lakota that black witnessed firsthand as well as the sundance go stance rituals which helped catalyze them Joe then explains by blackout converted to. To Catholicism Indian wars, how he fuse LAKOTA spirituality with his new found faith? We discussed by black elk decided to tell his vision to a white poet named John. Nine Heart in the cultural influence. The resulting book black elk speaks had on the West and the twentieth century we and our conversation discussing whether black elk ever felt he fulfilled his vision after shows over are shown on a whim dot. com. Black Elk. Right Joe, Jackson welcome to the show. Thank you for me. So you're the author of black elk, the life of an American visionary, and this is a biography. Of a famous Lakota holy man, Prophet Medicine Man Black Elk I'm curious what led you down the path to to writing this biography. Well, I had written a book prior to this about the air race that made Charles Lindbergh famous and and one of the things that I discovered was that the process by which this was in the nineteen twenties, the process which Americans discovered and created, and then destroy secular Holyman, the momentary media saints, and that made me start to think what does it really mean for a society or a group of people to call somebody holy? What is what is holy really mean? And I I thought of doing biography of the Catholic. Writer Thomas Merton. But there had just been a biography written of him well, about five years ago or something like that. Then I started thinking about blackout because I remembered that. Remember, two things. One Blackhawks, one of my favorite books when I was in either high school or College, and secondly at the turn of the twentieth and twenty. First Century, is there was this colloquium of college theologians and they were ask, Rudy thank was the. Premier Holy Men of the twentieth century in the majority said blackout and I thought well. Now, that's really interesting because this is from a country that tried to. Wipe out his his kind of religion to, and then when I was researching a book, I didn't know this at the time when I started researching the idea I found that there was a move to turn Black Elkin to Catholic sate and that that made it even more interesting because once again at the time, it was the Catholic tried to stand up blackouts type of religion. So there are a lot of different things going. Going on a lot of different trails, I could go down and seemed like a perfect book to work on. So this is a biography of black elk, but it's also a history or bagger few of the LAKOTA. So let's start there for a big picture over you for people who aren't familiar with the Lakota plains, Indians, where were they from originally because we know them for being on the planes like the DAKOTAS or whatever. They were there originally how they end up there and we'll start from there. Well. The first place they were. At least recorded in white histories was in. Michigan, around Michigan around the Great Lakes and they were. Forced out by white settler pressure and they started moving across the plains. Some State of Michigan others others moved across the northern plains. What's now like Minnesota North Dakota South Dakota. But at that time when that happened, they were still afoot, they weren't really core soldiers life. They became famous for being so and so it was a slow process of moving west and there were three or four clans. The most famous of the clans were blackouts which were the aglow Lakota. and. That was also the clan of crazy horse and the other clan. was came quite famous was sitting bull's clan, which was the hunt Papa. and. So they moved West until they came to the DAKOTAS. Then they kind of started separating out onto in each clan had. It's kind of territory sitting bull's clan was in the northern, most of the United States in what is now north. Dakota and at least among the LAKOTA. The southernmost clan blackouts who are down right around where the Black Hills are of South Dakota today, and for people I think it's important to note Lakota also known as the SU. So yet that can be confusing people like the Sioux Lakota. Those are different tribes notes to the same tribe. Yeah, the was the sue is pretty much. It was a Basset. The the name sue is a bastardisation of a French word for them and so but their name for themselves was always the LAKOTA. LAKOTA. So you mentioned they weren't their famous for Being Planes Force Warriors Cavalry. Planes. voyeurs. But it always didn't have the horse wind today when they introduced the horse when they start incorporating that into their culture. Nobody's really sure about that. But in the whole horse culture spread up from the south, there were a Spanish horses that escaped and bread, and then the commands were the first American tribes to become. Become, really proficient horseman over time it spread North. They think that the Lakota discovered the horse and started writing sometime between seventeen, fifty, eighteen, twenty, there were Lakota historians. They would kind of like drop pictographs on these deer skins, and the first time that the Lakota were were recorded to have caught a horse was to cut or have stolen a horse was eighteen o one somewhere between eighteen o one and eighteen twenty, the the became quite proficient in how did it change their culture? Oh, completely I mean they were. They were a foot. So before then. So in our, they were pretty much at the. The mercy of the elements and then Almaz, a sudden, they started writing horses, they could run down the the Buffalo, they kind of natural recklessness bravery to them as they became more proficient hunters. Then they became warriors and because they were so good. So daring and so reckless, they became some of the most feared or at least the most successful warriors on the northern plains as they moved west towards the black. Hills. And then even farther west towards the Rockies, they would come up against other tribes like the crow who had been in. You know these this early kind of paradise of hunting grounds over. Over, Wyoming for a long time, and they would fight for years over the hunting ground and the reason they were such a feared martial society was because they were so good on their horses and there also a very, highly spiritual component to their where cultures well, correct. Very much. So when you were young man and you were going to become an adult, you would go through a vision quest. You would fast, you would go out into the hills, you would starve yourself. You would go into a sweat lodge and you would you would seek vision, and since in highest attainable position or the highest Life for a young man was to be a warrior than you are seeking vision. The had something to do with your prowess as a warrior in many times. The visions that you that you were given from the Gods would tell you what you would have to do before battle or how what kind of life you would have to lead in order to be. Be a pure warrior, and they basically were a code of conduct either for your life or for your conduct right before the battle. So it was a very important thing, religion and spirituality among the aglow were were very tied up in in battle and hunting and hunting a kind of battle in itself, and we'll talk about how that connection between spirituality and warfare. That's eventually what led up to and wounded knee and some of these, the conflict between the government and the LAKOTA. So we've kind of lead up. We talked about, what's the LAKOTA where they from their culture, the development of the warrior culture. They had let's talk about what was the state of US government and Likud relations at the time of black. Elk's birth and childhood. So blackout was burnt burnt around. I. Don't remember exactly, but around eighteen. I. Think Eighteen, sixty three. The LAKOTA considered the area from the Black Hill. The northern plains, what we call the northern plains today, but especially. West past the black hills up to the up to the to the ROCKIES, they consider that a great hunting ground I. Mean. It was. There was a lot of game up there and there was. It was great camping, and it was just a it was just an easier life for them Anna around this time. Gold was discovered in Montana. They're all of these. These trails West. From that went through the center of the United States. But then my started going north and they started a started invading their the code is hunting ground, and that led to a war that led to a war that was called Red, cloud's war where there were a number of. American us, army forts along this northern trail, and the Indians attacked these forts incessantly. Basically shut down this this trail that the miners were using and the Indians eventually after massacring a bunch of soldiers in a place outside of Sheridan, Wyoming called the Fetterman massacre and besieging these forts for a long time the Su one, the only they won what was called red clouds or it was the only four. The native Americans were acknowledged as winning in US history. So he was born during this is father five at that massacre that I was talking about he was badly wounded. He would always be Kinda lame red cloud's war ended around nineteen, sixty, five, eighteen, sixty, six, eighteen, sixty, seven, something like that. And from then until. Around the time of. The custer massacre, there was relative peace. There were there were skirmishes, but there was relative peace. And there were negotiations for land in large tracts of land belonging to the Indians in the Indians alone which was. Over time being invaded by white miners, again, blackout was born in a time of war. But, his first ten years, ten eleven, twelve years. Most of that was a time of peace. It was also during this time you you saw the rise of these great chief that we know today ratcheting bowl crazy horse and I mean crazy horse would fight would fight other tribes, but he would also mean during red cloud's war. We don't really see sitting bull during red cloud's war nets. It's kind of too far south for sitting bull, but we do start to see. Crazy horse coming to ascendance during red cloud's or I. Mean, he was a he was Because of his success as a As a warrior, and also as a tactician, he was always very good at tactics. He rose in prominence as one of red cloud's major lieutenants during during that war and speaking of that connection between spirituality and bore crazy horse had visions i. Had Thunder visions like he had like the God, speak to him that he was going to lead his people against the whites as long as he adhered to certain standards as delineated in his visions. Then he would never be touched by a bullet and he would lead his people are more and and he was this holy man of of war. This kind of like holy, Madman I, mean he just charge straight into into the line of bullets or charge at opposing tribe, and he would a recap it and come out the other end unscathed. He had many many followers there were. There were lots of young men, young warriors who really respected crazy horse. Blackout was the younger cousin of crazy horse. Crazy horse was actually the second cousin to blackout. So as blackout was growing up crazy horse was right there. He was like you know his mentor in a way and crazy horse started pay a little bit more attention to blackout after blackouts seemed to be touched by the gods. In some way, not everybody really understood it. I will let's talk about that and fairly black elk's immediate family because it seems like because. Because of his his family lineage, he was destined to become a great medicine man. Yeah. I, mean the family business was being medicine man being a holy man and there were there were two types of holy men. There are the ones who had visions and were in touch with the guides, and there were the ones who healed. It was almost like in a way. It was like medical school I mean, you could go on and you could try to have. Tried to be both and in time, that's what our black elk was. He he was both a spiritual leader, a holy man who was in touch with God's. But he also was a healer at a very early age. She started hearing voices, which eventually turned into a near death vision that he had when he was just nine years old and this, this is the moment. This is like the seminal thing for blackout that would guide him for the rest of his life and would influence his decisions he made. So walk us through that vision like. How did it start and then like what did he CNN? Okay. So he like you said, he had he would be a you know just a a little kid and he'd be out on the plains playing, and all of a sudden somewhat wouldn't speak to him and he'd look around nobody was there even though culturally the Lakota supported visitation from the gods a lot more than white culture. Does that mean? If you heard voices, you weren't necessarily. Immediately sent off to the psychiatrist at the same time, it would appear that the Lakota were were fairly cautious about it. I mean a lot of people could fake that they didn't want to have fake holy men around. So blackout when he was younger, he kind of hid this from his family, he didn't want his family to thank you was crazy, and then when he was nine they. They were his family was traveling west to go to a annual influence of all the tribes over in in the over in the Black Hills, and he fell into a coma. He got really sick and he fell into a coma I is legs gave out, and then he had an extremely high fever and you know you can't really tell what people historically people fall ill love but. It did seem like he had childhood meningitis or something like that. I mean, he came really close to death. And for nine days, he was in a coma and during those nine days when he was in a coma, he had his vision in which he was lifted up into the clouds where the spirits were. The grandfather's they're basically just like in. The Catholic Church Trinity, there were six grandfathers and he was given a vision that if he went on this quest and overcame the dangers then he would be given. Powers and tools that would that would save his people from the coming quite encroachment. By this time, we're talking the early eighteen seventies. By this time, it was pretty evident to all of the Kota that they were going to be overrun by white culture that they were gonNA, lose their land and it was a a coming apocalypse, and so everybody was pretty much worried. So he went off on this quest is very much a kind of Joseph Campbell type of hero quest and he back with these powers and the the grandfather's bring him to the in their. The kind of the cloud lodges has this. Vision of millions of horses dancing in front of him. He has these visions of what he must do to save his people from. From the whites but complicating matter is also that his powers are not just for the LAKOTA, it's for all people in time he would come to. Think well, that means everybody even the enemy, but he didn't really understand that when he was when he was nine, he comes out of his of his coma and from the time that he is nine years old until he is in his twenties. Eighteen eighteen ninety when wounded knee takes place, he feels that it is his. It is his responsibility to save his people. Die Free Had his vision to tell anybody about it or do you keep it to himself? He kept it to himself until after the. CUSTER massacre in eighteen, seventy, six around eighteen, seventy, seven, eighteen, seventy, eight, eighteen, seventy, nine, and began to have these these streams again. He's been began to hear these voices again and they were more threatening. Now, it's like now is the time you have to do what have to do, and he always felt that I did not do what the Gods told him to do that. He'd be wiped out that he would be annihilated, but he didn't know what to do. And he just grew more and more panicked until finally, he he had a huge panic attack and his parents took him to some to some medicine men some Hollyman within the tribe. It was like a psychiatric session I. Mean, he was a group psychiatric session. I mean, he told him about his dreams. He told them about his vision and they listened and they were quite impressed because in a way, his vision had an a very sophisticated way for one. So young his vision encompassed a lot of Lakota cosmology and they basically said that you've got to. Somehow, perform your your vision to the tribe. You've got to prove yourself as a holy man that was when he publicly added himself as somebody who had these visions, and that's when he like. He basically replicated the horse stance that he saw his vision, he replicated the horse dance and it was a huge success because it was so successful, he was honored in because it was so successful, he had a lot more. Confidence in his own abilities. That was when he started performing other visions that he might have had minor visions that he might have had. It was also when he started to start to teach himself how to be a healer as well with this in this replication when he did his horse stance, this was after big horn, correct. Little bighorn. This is after big horn. This is around eighteen, seventy, eighteen, seventy, nine when he replicated the the Horse Vision, we're GONNA. Take a quick break more sponsors. Having closed at fit, just right can be a huge confidence booster buying clothes off the rack like suits dress shirts, there's parts you can tailor, but you can't Taylor all of its. So it's not going to fit you just right when you get a custom made suit made-to-measure, feel like you wearing pyjamas, you're probably thinking made to measure custom suits going to cost an arm. Arm and leg not. So with Indochino Indochino, we started on the belief that custom clothing shouldn't cost a fortune with not no. 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Well, what happened was that after red-clad one, his war, the American government said, there's this huge swath of the northern plains that belongs to you all the Lakota we're not going to invade this. But in eighteen seventy, five, George custer led a a scientific and military expedition into the black. Hills. which was a very holy place for the for the LAKOTA. Considered that that's where they got their lodge bowls where they hunted. That's where they. That's where the spirits were thought to reside, and so custer came with a huge huge force of men and a huge force of light, a wagon train and scientists and everything, and they discovered gold not a lot of gold. But they discovered gold immediately, quite gold miners flooded into the area and deadwood is now kind of like you know what was the main goal town? You can still see today, the US government had had reneged on its treaty which the Indians considered sacred and they were really upset about this and that proved to them. The very thing that they had been worrying about all these years, which was that that the whites were going to overrun their culture and they're going to wipe amount and so in eighteen seventy six, there was a huge conclave and sundance. That was it was called to the West towards where the little big horn was. This was the moment when when sitting bull becomes really important in American history because. Sitting Bull's clan was the hunt Papa and the hung pop, a had this huge Sundance Anna. Sundance was basically a way of torturing yourself into having having visions and sitting bull had a vision in which he saw two giant waves of approaching forces. To big clouds meeting head on, there was a battle and then American soldiers in uniforms started falling to the ground headfirst, which meant that they were killed, and so sitting bull basically prophesied a huge battle between the US army and the. And the Indians and in there are thousands of Indians who had come together for this for this conclave. and. They kept moving west towards the rockies and they eventually camped over at little bighorn at the same time. The United States government had said every all up to live on reservations, and if you're not on a reservation, we're going to hunt you down and so there was a three pronged hunt to find this huge number of Indians. George custer, a small band of men found him first and they were wiped out, and that was like on June twenty, six, eighteen, seventy, six, or something like that. You walk us through the Sundance because it's it's a really intense ritual. I. Mean. It starts off the way they look. They stare at the sun I mean they. They literally look at the thrown. Luther. Blind is basically, and then what goes on after that? It basically four stages of the Sundance, which is basically four days of the Sundance at least as it was at least as it was practiced. Practiced in this best known sundance of sitting bull's before the little bighorn you fasted. You were in a sweat lodge you. You know there was sage that was burning around you, and then on each of the successive days you went through these ordeals, which finally culminated on the fourth day with the most famous ordeal, which was the one where a medicine man would slice the muscles in your head. And one on each side. Any would insert a ride through through this lies. The Rod would be attached by leather thongs to the top of this this tree for that day you and you were also given this long rod or stick that you held onto, and for that day, you tried to pull yourself loose from the poll. Many Times. You would see sundance who had multiple scars over their lives where they had pulled themselves loose. And while you were doing this while you were dancing while you were trying to pull yourself loose, you would supposedly stare into the sun now. Later, some informants would say that you didn't necessarily stare straight into the sun cause. You would have gone blind would stare into a spot below the sun, but it was close enough to the rays of the sun that you are. You know pretty much. Pretty much blind for day and between the pain and the fasting and staring at the sun getting loose from the poll or not. There was a lot of pain and suffering there and pretty dramatic visions would come out of that, and the other thing it also did is there are a lot of people who were invited to these Sundance's who weren't part of the LAKOTA, they were amazed by the by the extent of suffering these guys went through in. So in a way, it was also kind of A. Public demonstration of how tough the the Lakota were, what what, what bad ass is they were and I mean. It was supposedly a pretty amazing spectacle and while you're doing that I, mean there were a lot of people that that the tribes would sit around and white. So it was it was a very public ritual of suffering. and. I think one of the aftermath of the battle, little big Horn of the government. This is like when the government started your this idea like we gotta start killing the Indian inside of the Indian and one of the one of the ways they did that you know since they saw the connecting the sundance and the battle little bighorn, the US government started basically trying to prevent Sundance's from happening after that point, right? Yeah, they. Had A lot of dances like that I mean later on, we'll see another dance count the go dance, which was nowhere near as violently as inclined as the as the Sundance was, but it was a dance. There was an Indian dance and the American government and the American settlers feared it especially since the Lakota were the ones who were. Doing it basically, what happened was that the US army hunted him Dan and forced the all the. Pretty much into slowly into the reservations and so for Mateen seventy six until the early eighteen, eighty s you've got the. Of the Indian tribes going into red reservations, and once the the tribes were in the reservations and they could easily control an outlaw these rituals. And the other thing that happened was each of the at least in the early days, each of these reservations were even though the government controlled it, they were really kinda run by different religious sects, and so you know one one survey Shin somewhere might be I'd be run by the Episcopalian somewhere else. It might be by the Presbyterians and we're blackout lived. It was the largest still is the largest reservation in the United States, and that was run by the Catholics and the Catholics kind of impressed the Indians because the LAKOTA because they they seem to have a certain magic to themselves. You know the robes and the big crosses and all that kind of stuff, but at the same time. At that time, they really tried to stamp out the Indian beliefs, and so we're talking we're talking the eighteen eighties when they were really trying to stamp out the Indian believes some little big born happens blackhawks family day end up on the reservation. They didn't. They went to Canada for a little bit ended up in back on the reservation during this time, black oak was recognized basically publicly by his people as holy man. But then he goes on link kind of I. Mean. This is kind of interesting detour in his life. He connects with wild bill, cody Riley joins him on his wild, West. Circus show that went to go see the queen of England. And know, and that was kind of a road trip for always for all these young guys I mean by now, blackout would have been in his early twenties. Round eighteen, eighty, six, or so cody had already been in theater. He had a wild west plays on the Chicago stage. And he kinda dreamed up the idea of these traveling wild west shows. I mean, there were like circuses on on horseback in the first couple of years. They didn't really do that. Well, then he began to understand that what people were really interested in working the or the Indians in the first Indians that he hired when he went down to Louisiana where the Ponti. But over time, he put out this casting, call the different reservations saying if you ride with me on these low bill, wild west shows, I'll take you go round. The United States, you'll get paid. If you're married, your wife will get paid about half of what you paid or maybe a quarter and you'll in, you know it's it's a road trip and you're you're making money at the time when there weren't a whole lot of jobs to be held on reservations. So around eighteen, eighty, six or eighteen, eighty, seven, Buffalo Bill. Pretty much comes to Pine Ridge where the glory and says, you know we're hiring actors, Indian actors for the wild west show and black wasn't sure he wanted to join up because you know he was a healer and his reservation during my Wisconsin reservation period children are dying and it was. A tough time, but blackout was starting to think, well, the Indian ways aren't saving my people. Maybe I should see why the whites are so powerful. When East with his friends on the Buffalo. Bill? Tour. And he went to Madison Square. Gardens. And he really he really enjoyed it, and while he was in Madison Square Gardens Buffalo, Bill Swing a deal with Great Britain I mean Queen Victoria was having her fiftieth anniversary, and so it was the Golden Jubilee I. Think I, remember it being an, and so they went for Madison Square Gardens over to England, and he rode as one of the Indians in London, and then he was a very dancer because you know as a as a holy man medicine man, you have to be able to dance, and so he was one of several Lakota performers who danced before the Queen, and that was that was kind of a terming moment in the In blackout speaks because he says something like you know she was short and Pudgy, but she was very nice and she grabbed my hand and she said, you know you said Nice things to them, and so it was. kind of a it's. It's kind of a really nice section in in blackout speaks when he makes it back to America. Things are starting to change again on the reservation amongst the LAKOTA, and there was this movement. You referred to earlier this ghost dance movement. What was the impetus behind the ghost dance movement? What was its purpose, etc. Well, the ghost dance movement was there had there had actually been there actually two ways of the ghost dance movement in the in the rockies down around. Nevada. Around I. Don't know about eighteen, eighty eight or something like that. There was a a first wave and it was basically that if you religiously dance this this dance, the the dancers will be chosen and they will be delivered away from from this veil of tears, kind of like the rapture and and Protestant theology, and then it Kinda died for a little while, and then around eighteen ninety, the gas stance began to. Spread East along the Northern Plains and a Lotta tribes started dancing. Basically, it was a long dance and it was an endurance. And as you danced united. He. Didn't have anything to drink or eat your your fasting, and as you're dancing, if you've fainted from exhaustion than you dragged out of the line and you would have a vision and became. kind of a public spectacle, a public religious spiritual spectacle was. Kind of group cohesiveness. There was this idea that sometime in spring eighteen, ninety one if the ghost dancers. Adhered religiously to the strictures of the ghost dance that Ali e enemies would be killed. And only the Indians would survive and those family members, those Indians who had been killed by the whites in the past would come back and so it's very much like what millennial movements I mean. You know such and such a day. The end of the world is going to come and the only ones who are going to survive are the chosen. It's almost exactly the same and in many ways this. This it was. It was a millennial movement. In many ways. It had a lot of hallmarks of the kind of, Christianity, that that Indians all over the planes had been learning during the reservation period, which once again, like I said, was the eighteen eighties in most places. Nothing really happened. I mean, the agents in charge of the of the reservations they said, let them dance I mean, it's not A. It's not a violent movement, but people were scared of the Su- because of what happened at the little bighorn and so when the ghost dance reach the sue the US army moved in and then part of the ghost dance was his idea of ghost shirt rather could wear this that would protect you from bulletin blade. Yeah, and it's really interesting because I mean, it was supposed to be an impervious shirt. It was a wholly shirt. If you wore this shirt, then you protected and according the Black Elk, I mean a Lotta, he spent a Lotta time making these shirts. You would kind of like, you know, say a prayer overman paint. Them and that kind of stuff. It's interesting the reservation. East of Pine Ridge called the Rosebud reservation and there is a There is a Lakota Museum in the the Catholic Church there, and there is a ghost densure that still been preserved and it's a, it's a long kind of loose shirt with many times that'll have a like a painting of an Eagle Eagle or a thunderbird or something like that on it. I mean they're always there. I. Mean. They're faded by now, but they're kind of elaborate and always have a lot of ribbons kind of beautiful and and you said even though black took part in the ghost dance movement making the golf shirts and doing some the. Way, you described it in black elk speaks kind of ambivalent about the ghost dance. Yeah, he wasn't really sure about it because I mean there had been different movements and remember even by then I mean, he's still in his early twenties even by then he still believes somehow he's going to find the key to his vision. He's going to, he's going to understand he never really completely understood his vision, and so he kept going over and going over it and trying to figure out how can I make this? Right? How? What is the secret? What do I have to do to make my? Come true and to save my people and he wasn't really sure that that the ghosts dad's was in line with his vision. But then he at the invitation in one of his friends, one of his family members he went down to the. To a ghost dance, probably about ten or twelve miles south of where he lived, and it was in this area called wounded knee, and he washed this ghost dance and there were a lot of similarities between his between his vision and the ghost dance as it was being danced, and so he thought well, maybe it's the same thing and that's when he joined and you mentioned that. When they first started doing the ghost dance to agents, just let them do it. But then this like the Sundance is led up to another conflict between the LAKOTA and the US army. Yeah. It was really more of a massacre on unlike the little bighorn, there are a number of ghost dancers including up on sitting bull's northern reservation and. The US army and the government were very afraid of them and they started moving the. They started moving the army and sitting bull had a number of ghost dances where he was and there was a confrontation and he was killed, his people started moving south and they collected some other. Suicide they started moving south. And the US Army. Knew about this and they were, they didn't need. It's hard to find people on the planes, and so the army was mobilized around Pine Ridge to try to catch these refugee ghost dancers and hand to stop the dancing by the time that that this band came into. Pine. Ridge. They were led by this this old chief by the name of bigfoot they were it was. was during the winter, it was in December eighteen ninety, they were starving. They were frostbitten were in really bad shape, and they turn themselves in to this column of US troops and they were soon brought to this camp down at the down at wounded knee. The same place were blackout could encountered his first ghost dance and they were giving food. They were given shelter. And then the next day, the soldiers lined up around them and demanded their their rifles and the young men didn't want to give away the rivals and shooting started in the very beginning of the battle, the Indians N. and the soldiers pretty much gave as as well as they took, I, mean, the casualties were just about even. But the army also had what was called a hotchkiss gun, which was a kind of small mountain cannon had two or. Or three of those that had brought along. It was up on this hill to the north of where the fight was taking place and they started shooting down into the Indian, started running after the first wave of battle and the inserted running south, and the hotchkiss guns started firing, and that's where it became a massacre, and that's when children women and children began to be killed in the latter stages of that I mean, that's not very far. Far, from where blackout by now is back from from London and they heard the shooting, and that's where blackout grabs a horse and he starts to ride towards the sound of the shooting and he collects a lot of young men behind him, and they try to save some of the refugees, some of the women in some of the children, and that's that's that's the part of wounded. Need the battle of wounded knee that you see in blackout. Blackout speaks he arrives at the end with other the man to try to save the people being killed and I'm sure it's vision was going on in his mind. Oh. Yeah. Oh. Yeah. You Know How do I? You know? Why can't I? How has this happened? Why have failed? Why did I allow this to happen? Just be because I never understood my vision? Well, enough in on, you have the fame passage where he sees he sees them. In all these women and children in a dead or dying heaps over to the side, and it was like it was the end of a dream. It was a beautiful dream, but it was all you know lying in blood in the snow in the dust, and that's pretty much where blackout speaks the book ends. That's not where blackout story ends wounded. Knee is pretty much thought of as the. Last battle between the US army and the native. Americans in US history is actually one or two little skirmishes after that. But that was the last big campaign. Will it after this? What happens black elk do? He goes into kind of existential limbo? I? Mean, we don't hear anything of in Eighteen, ninety one. Eight ninety two you start to hear of them again, he's I mean lots, lots of people. Especially, kids are dying from White Diseases I. Mean. There's there's a epidemic of whooping cough just killing measles, but especially whooping cough, which is killing off young Coda, and so for the eighteen, ninety s he trying to save is people with his his healing. He also gets married around to his first wife and has three children around eighteen, ninety, three from eighteen, ninety three until about Nineteen O. Three or nineteen, O four, he He tries to save his people people as a healer, but his wife dies until two of his children die and his mother dies and his dad dies and all these people that he knows her dying and they're dying from diseases and he's getting more and more depressed thinking more and more I failed. My people are old beliefs. They don't have the power of the white believes. What can I do? And then in nineteen o four. He has a confrontation with a Catholic priest. And, many times what would happen during this period. This is a period of religious transition for the LAKOTA. Individual LAKOTA would think do I want to be Catholic WanNa stay the same as I keep the old ways. And a family member would die and the family would call in both the Catholic priests and the the native priest now is I guess a way of hedging their bets and blackout. Kinda came face to face with one of these with one of these priests. It wasn't the first time. He came face to face with one of these priests, but and he was known by these priests news known as a powerful and respected medicine man, and if they could convert him to Catholicism, that would be a a coup for them. And back was depressed because his children had died and his wife had died and he had a really bad Al-Serr. Mick and sometime in nineteen thousand four, he just gives up and he's he waits outside after the priest is finished giving last rites and the priests comes up to him and says, you look pretty bad. Let me take you to the monastery. And fixed up, he has a operation for an ulcer and he becomes a converted Catholic. He's a strong strong, strong. Catholic. From nineteen afforded nineteen sixteen he goes around the United States converting other. Indians in in other tribes and up into Canada, and supposedly he converted four hundred native Americans in both Canada and the United States to Catholicism, more than any other native American, and that's why the Catholic church is looking into turning him into a saint right now. But that all ended in nineteen sixteen, he stopped traveling in Nineteen sixteen somewhere between nineteen sixteen and nineteen thirty. He didn't stop being a Catholic, but he started practising the old ways again. So it was kind of like a combination of both he was a combination Catholic and an old holy. Man. And it seems like what he was trying to do. was trying to figure out his vision like that was the thing that was like he. He he converted to Catholicism because it thought maybe there's something there that I can take to help me unlock the key to understanding my vision I had. It was always, it was always about the vision. He always believed that the vision was held the key to saving his people and actually just you know as he as an got older to saving humanity, you're exactly right i. mean he became more ecumenical because he always began to think that that other religions might colds secrets that I don't see just from a Lakota point of view and. and. Then this is where this is how we know about black L. Vision because this guy's a poet American poet named John. Neidhart shows up at his blackhawks, house and says you, Hey, I, WanNa talk to you about the old ways and then black elk for some reason because he doesn't really talk all that much trickily to white people says, you're the government until my vision to. I know and that's one of the big mysteries. Well, Neidhart was already kind of known. Okay. So nihar meets blackout a nineteen thirty and he was already kind of famous as a planes poet. He wrote these long long long epochs about the chain. You know the ending of the West and starting with the fur trappers and going all the way to the ghost dancers, and he had just written an epoch about the. About the little bighorn and about crazy horse, and like I said, I mean because black was a holy. He wasn't as well known as chiefs, but had started to get out about this second cousin of crazy horse and and who you know had been around during the little bighorn and been around during wounded name Nihar. was coming with his own son away from a poetry reading some college he goes makes detoured of Pine Ridge goes to the agent. The government agent says, is there anybody here who you know was one of the old holy men who had been around during the ghost stats, the agent talks with some of the old Indian men there, and they said, well, there's this. There's this guy by the name of blackout who is something of a holy man and can directed and where to go and. and. So now, heart you know without just out of the out of the blue shows up in the middle of nowhere at blackouts home, usually blackout kind of like you said kind of politely turned people away. But there was something about Nihar that blackout liked and Neidhart had been when he was younger, he been raised close the Omaha reservation and around Nebraska. and. He traveled throughout the West and he kinda knew the native Americans and he didn't rush the native Americans in conversation he wasn't. He wasn't impatient like Indians kind of new whites to be, and he was also not dismissive of the idea of. Indian religion or in having visions or you know being in touch with the spirits and some of that must have come off because. They sat together for an afternoon new for about five hours and blackout. Finally said the equivalent of got this vision, all my friends around me are dying. He black was about sixty by them. You know and I'm afraid that if I die, I'M GONNA lose division, and I want to Put my vision out to the world, and he felt comf- comfortable with my heart, and so he basically blackout sick basically said deny her come back in a year and I'll have a teaching space ready, which is kind of like a sacred hoop and a teepee and everything, and I'll tell You my vision. and. So blackout and Nihar, first met in nineteen thirty, and then neidhart comes back with his two daughters. One of whom knows shorthand in nineteen, thirty, one named got another. Still they're still in archives like a month's worth of storytelling by blackout, and then blackout speaks appeared as a book by William Oh, nineteen, thirty two, and how was it received initially in the United States. Well the strange for the for the for the public I, mean the the critics. Kinda liked it. They thought that it was often peek into. into the mind of a native American holy man, but it didn't do. Well, I mean, it went into remainders within about six months or so I mean even less than that. And it just kind of disappeared from view. But there were people who liked it and who thought. It was really something special, and then near the end of the thirties, Karl Yune, the psychiatrist, you know the one who was very interested in like the universal unconscious and the power of dreams. He came to give a lecture on religion and psychology at Yale University and somebody came and gave him a copy of black elk speaks. He. Got Alex cited and he went back to Germany went back to Switzerland thinking. I'm going to get this published in German for the Europeans, because Europeans ever since Buffalo, Bill, had been there. They've been absolutely in love with native American culture, but in World War Two came about. And so you know that kind of ended that. But then after the war hyun tried again and he got the blackout speaks published in. German. In one, thousand, nine, hundred, fifty, five, and then as often happens a European intellectual says something America's good than. Americans cameras up and take notice of what's in their backyard. It was republished in English in nineteen, sixty one. The first edition, and that's like the the hippie movement picked up on it and that's It? Yeah, that was. Around. For a while and it was gaining momentum. But then in was like nineteen, Sixty, eight, the Dee Brown's bury. My heart at wounded, knee. Comes out, and then all of a sudden between blackout speaks and bury my heart at wounded knee in all of a sudden night blackout Jenner's new age religion. I mean he he's He becomes a cultural commodity, hinders quite American popular culture. I don't know if you ever saw the doesn't have movie little big man, but the old chief. Who is destined Hoffman's mentor. was modeled after blackout, and so in blackout speaks since then has been, its is been translated into. I'd have to look it up, has been translate into lots of languages, and so after black blackhawks fees got put out there I. Mean What? Would it black elk, think about his vision as he came to the end of his life? Did he did he feel these still feel like a failed prophecy all his life. You felt like you never had. It quite figured out. He didn't do what he's supposed to do or did he feel like he saved his people somehow in the end? Well, I think he was of two minds I. Mean I think he always felt that it never saved his people but? Near after after black elk speaks came out, remember he was sixty anybody was going to die, but he held on until he was light night until nineteen fifty. So. He was he was much older by then by that point, he had also become a preservationists. I mean. He wanted to preserve the old ways, the old religion and the dances and the old Niagara fee and a lot of that was dying out, and at least among the Lakota I. Mean. He was one of the main ones to preserve all that, and there was also even back in the nineteen twenties and Nineteen Thirties nineteen forties, i. mean. There were still. Even though they couldn't do. So publicly, there were young men that that wanted to learn. The old ways wanted to be holyman blackouts started to train them. In fact, one of the a medicine men who was present at wounded knee too. You know in Nineteen, seventy three when the government shouted out with the American Indian movement. He had been trained under blackout blackout was very important for the continuity of and and the preservation of of these old ways and I. Think he understood that and I think that when he died, he felt a certain piece about that. I mean, he seemed to peace when he died. So I mean, what was your takeaway after reading this book? I'm big takeaway like what does it mean to be a holy man? Maybe glad I mean, I'm sure it changed you. I mean change the way you. Yeah. Well, I mean, it's it. It certainly did I mean you know you certainly have an appreciation of other religious expressions and you certainly have a an appreciation of what people go through on their own sort of spiritual quests and I think that I was able to understand that more in fact I. I have a friend who I met a friend. He's been a friends since junior high and he has had like approaching blindness and stuff like that, and he's become increasingly missile, and I never really stood what he was trying to do as he was faced with allies challenges, and after I read the book I think I understood a lot more what he was what he was. Doing going through, there's a lot more on more understanding for me there as far as what it takes to be holy. There's a couple of things that seemed to. Behold famous like black alker. Jesus. Or Buddha Muhammad, you've got to have a society which is changing in a really threatening way. For people. they want something new and. The main personal traits just seems to be endurance. Endurance that as you go through. So many bad things. It becomes a kind of wisdom, but I guess it's a kind of wisdom that based on patience and your own suffering or European contact with other people suffering and trying to help them I mean, that's the main. Takeaway I. Guess. I've got from that. I. Guess. That's the main pattern that I that I that I saw Joe, this has been a fantastic conversation. Where can people go to learn more about the book in your work? Well There are two books to learn more about blackout I mean. Okay. So so they can read my book I mean, that's that's the biography, but they really should read. The NIHAR blackout collaboration blackout speaks they really should do that. And then I mean it's a beautiful book as really sad, and then if they really WanNa, get into it, there is a transcription of black alcs interview with my heart. That took place over a month, and it's called the sixth grandfather and it's kind of difficult because it's it's an oral history and it's got all the catches. It's got all the know olive bat tracks. It can at times can be confusing, and so it's difficult reading. I wouldn't read it until after I read blackout speaks, and then maybe my book. But one thing that's really nice about that is that you see since it's an oral history from blackouts, words, you kind of get a pitcher straight into blackouts mine. So I would do that. If you're really interested in and then you know if you wanna read my other books, I, mean there, I've got a website www joe Jackson books, dot. com. But this is the only book that I've done blackout. Well, Joe Jackson thanks Shaima been an absolute pleasure. As a lot of fun. Thanks for having me. There was Joe. Jackson. He's the author of the Book Elkin American visionary. It's available Amazon.com and bookstores. Everywhere. You find out more information about his work at his website. Joe. Jackson. Books. Dot Com also, check it. Her show notes at AOL DOT is slash black elk and find links to resources. We delve deeper into this topic. Well that wraps up another edition of the podcast. Check out our website at art of Manley's Dot Com. Find Our podcast archive will thousands of articles that we've written over the years, and if you'd like to enjoy at free says the PODCAST. Premium HETERO RICHARD PREMIUM DOT com sign up use code manliness at checkout for free month trial winter signed up download the APP and Andrew. And, you start enjoying ad free episodes. The podcast have already appreciate one minute to give you an apple podcast or stitcher helps up a lot if you've done that already, thank you. Please consider sharing the show with a friend or family member. 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