TCG'S Class Notes (Outline/Commentary)


Last Updated: 6/13/08

NOTE: I am intentionally brief, even abbreviatory, in the following NOTES because I mean them to function as reminders & sources of review rather than to serve in lieu of coming to class: they DON'T. However, this page has a further usefulness: by "Commentary," I mean that some points in these class notes are expanded upon (and re-organized) in ways that our limited class time–and my rather manic teaching style–may have disallowed. . . .

Note: Highlighted author names are linked to each respective author's entry on my Authors & Readings Links page, for further research on your part.


 TU, Jan. 10th:: Syllabus/course introduction; Neihardt/Black Elk introduction    
**Black Elk Speaks: (some) background info**
*Neihardt, John G. (1881-1973): former Nebraska poet laureate (1921 to death); beside BES, best known for his five-part "Old West" epic, A Cycle of the West (p. 1915-1949)
*Nicholas Black Elk (Heh'aka Sapa)–1863-1950
    –Oglala Lakota–Pine Ridge Reservation: Manderson, SD (N of Pine Ridge & just NW of Wounded Knee)
    –Tuberculosis since at least 1912; later, failing eyesight, eventual blindness
    –Lakota wicas[h]a waka[n] ("medicine man")–BUT: conversion to Catholicism, 1904 (ergo, Nicholas as "Christian" name; even became a Catechist ["preparer" of converts]!)
    –At last, there has been great CONTROVERSY regarding what Black Elk "really believed." For one thing–and rather amazingly–it was Black Elk's insistence (elsewhere?!) on the compatibility of "Christianity and traditional [Lakota] religion" that "helped create the context of official tolerance" that led to the end of the U.S. government's ban on the Sun Dance (1883-1934), and its begrudging recognition of the Native American Church (182), another Christian/Native syncretism. But the debate continues: was Black Elk a "traditionalist whose Catholicism was insincere," a "sincere convert who relapsed into traditionalism upon meeting Neihardt," or a sincere "dual participant" in both (204-205)?
    [source: Holler, Clyde.  Black Elk's Religion: The Sun Dance and Lakota Catholicism.  Syracuse: Syracuse UP, 1995.]
    –Other central sources: DeMallie's The Sixth Grandfather (1984); Joseph Epes Brown's The Sacred Pipe (1953)

        . . . . . . See also "The Two Masks of Nicholas Black Elk" (Bruce A. Peterson)   –essay on Black Elk's religious syncretism

"Grandma's Photo" (notes towards a "personal essay" of mine, perhaps)
Regarding Black Elk Speaks and the questions of authenticity vs. simulation, my grandmother's photo (from 1943) might serve as a clarifying metaphor since it is, in many ways, analogous.
1) Both book and picture are ostensibly authentic, at first glance: "they are both Indians, after all–so why wouldn't their self-representations be valid?"
2) On second glance, however, the fact that Grandma is wearing a traditional male headdress is entirely inauthentic; and I would suggest (as others have) that there are places in BES where just such a second-glance "what the h---?" occurs.
3) Note, too, how both are very much situated in a moment of Western-Civ. history and ideology. Grandma's 1943 public display was no doubt for a parade largely spurred by World War II American patriotism: "Hey, let's get some local Injuns all dressed up in full regalia, too!"–as further "moral support" (and with perhaps the implicit understanding that these "defeated people" are fine reminders of the U.S. military's might). Likewise, Black Elk's narrative must be read through the window of Neihardt's own attitude as a Romantic-primitivist poet and "man of feeling" consciously at odds with what he perceived to be an over-civilized Western world.

 TH, Jan. 12th::
**"FOREWORD"–Vine Deloria, Jr. (for 1979 ed.) (xiii-xvii)**
*–initial reception of BES: a co-optative, reductionist connection of such primitivism "with the larger reality of Western civilization" (xiv) (–but is Deloria eventually guilty of some of this same reductionism?)
*–current society: "strange isolation" of postmodern culture; modern age: "industrialism," faith in "progress" (xiii) . . . reception history: BES more appreciated as "crises mounted"–incl. "future shock," "silent spring," & "the greening of America" (xiv)
*–BES, then, as remedy?
    –Western civilization's new "focus on Indians and some of the spiritual realities they seemed[!] to represent" (xiv) (–why?)
*–THESIS: "perhaps the only religious classic of this century" (xiii); especially for young Native Americans, for whom "the book has become a North American bible of all tribes" (xv) [–but: D.'s previous/alternate emphasis on importance to mainstream culture?] . . . perhaps "the emergence of a new sacred hoop" (xv) . . . BES, etc. ("the basic works of the Black Elk theological tradition") to be the "core of a North American Indian theological canon which will someday challenge the Eastern and Western traditions as a way of looking at the world" (xvi)
    –But: Deloria's own religious/Romantic essentialism?–BES "a universal expression of the larger, more cosmic truths which industrialism and progress had ignored" . . . "the universality of the images and dreams" therein (xv) . . . "the theme of sacrifice so important to all religions" (xvi) . . . "great religious teachings . . . encompass everyone" via their "transcendental truth" (xvi) . . . ultimately, D.'s emphasis on "universality" in part an effort to counter "the question of Neihardt's literary intrusions into Black Elk's system of beliefs" (xvi)

*Neihardt's 1932 Preface (xix-xxii)
    –Old Wise Man archetype: "sitting alone," "half blind eyes" (cf. Homer), living in the "inner world" vs. "'the darkness of men's eyes'" (xix; see also xxi–cf. Plato's parable of the Cave); "indubitable seer" (xx); "a saint"; "profoundly melancholic," with a "look of heart-break in his face"; "almost blind" (xxi; xxiv)
    –JGN.'s "strange" refrain (thruout prefaces): "strange[ly]": xix, xxi, xxvi
    –JGN.'s attitude/word choices: BE had lived in the "years of their [the Lakotas'] final defeat and degradation"?!–vs. Deloria's attitude?
    –book's raison d'être/the motives of BE and JGN:
        –BE to tell story "in fulfillment of a duty" (xx) . . . BE's first words: "'I can feel in this man beside me a strong desire to know the things of the Other World. He has been sent to learn what I know, and I shall teach him'" (xxv) . . . "What I know . . . is true and . . . beautiful. . . . You were sent to save it: (especially my "Great Vision"); so come back–in the spring! (xxvi)
        –JGN: remedy to "the present state of affairs throughout the whole scale of human values as our civilization has dealt with them" (xx)? . . . "this excessively progressive age" (xxi)
        –also, psychological interest: "students . . . of psychical research" and "those who seek meaning in . . . visions" (xxii) . . . (and scholars of "essential[?!] religion" [xxii]!?)–cf. Jung's interest, below
    –**envelope/"narrative frame": BE->BE's son Ben (interpr.)->JGN's daughter, Enid (transcr.)->JGN (xxii, xxviii, 212) . . . JGN's own travail: "to re-create in English the mood and manner of the old man's narrative" (xxix)–no small task! . . . "For the last forty years it has been my purpose to bring Black Elk's message to the white world" (xxix)–see also 1930 letter, below
*Neihardt's 1961 Preface (xxiii-xxviii) [glossed also in "themes" outlined above]
    –JGN's initial interest: Ghost Dance/Wounded Knee Massacre (xxiii); so his search for "some old medicine man who had been active in the Messiah Movement" (xxiii; see also xxiv)
    –BE: a "wic[h]as[h]a waka[n]" ("man powerful/holy")–and 2nd cousin of Crazy Horse (xxiv) . . . psychic powers: "'the old man seemed to know you were coming!' . . . he certainly had supernormal powers" (xxv)
    –earlier (& snubbed) "lady" visitor: Mari Sandoz, eventual author of Crazy Horse: The Strange Man of the Oglalas (xxiv)
    "Waka[n] Tanka"–represented by one eagle feather (ergo, monotheism?! [no: misleading])
    My 1961 edition:    
*Neihardt's 1972 Preface (xxix-xxx) [glossed also above]
    –reception history: 2nd wave of interest began in Zurich, with Carl Jung! (xxix-xxx) . . . revival in 60's & 70's: perhaps "the old prophet's wish . . . is actually being fulfilled" (xxx)
*Neihardt's 1930 letter (211-213) [glossed also above]
    –arrangements for interviews, disclaimer regarding any mercenary motives (211-212)
    –REASON, encore: "I do feel so much is known by you Indians that our white people do not know and should know" (212)–such as?! . . .
*Relevant quot.? (of a typical Romantic gesture): "Great God! I'd rather be / A pagan suckled by a creed outworn. . . ." (–William Wordsworth)

 TU, Jan. 17th::
*Chapter 1: "The Offering of the Pipe" (1-5)–and Appendix 2 (215-220)
    –"Why first"?! Why not "Early Boyhood" instead?: 1st chapter rhetorical equivalent of preparation for a ritual (that is BES)?! appropriate communal emphasis on the "nation/people" (oyate)? (And note parallels between traditional story of the Sacred Pipe & White Buffalo Woman and BE's own Great Vision.)
    –"the story of all life that is holy" (1)–cf. William Blake, Deep Ecology
    –elegiac tone already (framing the book's coda): the story "of a holy tree that should have flourished . . . and now is withered; and of a people's dream that died" (1)
    –Platonic echo/refrain from the Prefaces: "the darkness of their [men's] eyes" (1)
    –p. 2: importance of the number four ["why?"] (but the "four spirits" are then monotheistically conflated into "only one Spirit after all" [BE's closet-Christian emphasis?!])
    –pp. 2-5: recounting of the traditional Lakota story of the Sacred Pipe and the White Buffalo Woman; a Jung or Eliade might point to the archetypal "centering" & "wholeness" of the tale, with the tepee built "in the center of the nation," the repetitions of the number 12 (3x4); I'm more interested in the interchangeability of human and animal, of the easy transformation of woman to buffalo
    –pp. 215-220: Note JGN's various "ceremonial-Indian"-esque rhetorical flourishes to his daughter's bare, straightforward transcript, interjecting "a tone of reverence and solemnity, transmuting oral narrative into literature" (215). (This commentary by DeMallie obviously carries some heavy Western assumption about what "literature" is!)
    –Lakota language notes:
        –"Grandfather, Great Spirit" (4): "grandfather" = tunkas[h]ila, but in the traditional "religious" connotations of the word, this isn't some "Father in heaven"; the "grandfathers" are plural, including spirit-deities (if you will), human ancestors, and even other species; again, "Great Spirit" (for Wakan Tanka) seems to me a very unhappy choice of phrase by Neihardt.
        –"Hetchetu aloh!": modern spelling–hecetu [ye]lo, a ceremonial utterance rather like the Christian "Amen." There is also "Ate heye lo"–"the father(s) have said this to be true."

*Chapter 2: "Early Boyhood" (6-15)
        –largely BE's memories from early youth of the Fetterman Fight (1866) and Wagon Box Fight (1867), "skirmishes" between the cavalry and Plains Indians climaxing in the Battle of the Little Bighorn
        –the coming of the Was[h]ic[h]us (7): the Lakota word originally referred to anything mysterious and powerful (their incredible numbers! their guns! And thus Fire Thunder later describes their new rifles as "some new medicine of great power" [13].). . . . "They told us that they only wanted to use a little land. . . . And when you look about you now, you can see what it was they wanted" (7) . . . Another zinger: "they made a treaty . . . that said our country would be ours as long as grass should grow and water flow. You can see that it is not the grass and the water that have forgotten" (14; see also 102; Black Elk is here referring to the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868).   [own "eco"-note: but soon we won't have to worry about any growing grass & flowing water stipulation!?
        –Reservations: "little islands for us and other little islands for the four-leggeds" (8)! (Originally, bird sanctuaries were called "Reservations," too!); now stuck in "square gray houses, in a barren land" (8)
–VOCATION: BE's first reference to a medicine man regards one who derives his power from the dragonfly (11). (Each wicasa wakan has a particular "spirit animal" that aids and guides him.) BE's own "vocational" direction is first evidenced at age four, when "I first heard the voices" (14). Then age five, and the talking kingbird [pictured]: "Listen! A voice is calling you!"–and the two arrow-slant men from the sky, who will re-appear in his Great Vision. Fittingly, they eventually turn into geese (14-15). Not surprisingly, BE's main "spirit animals" will be avian, especially the "Spotted Eagle."

*Chapter 3: "THE GREAT VISION" (16-36)    [C/C with the Book of Revelation!?–e.g., 1.10,; 6.2, 8; *7.1*; 10.1; 21.1, 16-17]
    *–advent of VISION: illness at the age of 9; fever presumably, in which the "Voices" begin calling; cf. Ellenberger's The History of the Unconscious for the idea that many great visionaries experienced a similar "creative illness" at an early age, including Carl Jung. . . . Note that such a vision-inducing illness is more common to the (specific) shamanist tradition of East Asia and the Arctic (as described by Eliade) than to Lakota tradition, in which the adolescent consciously goes on a vision quest, or hanblec[h]ia, as did Crazy Horse and Lame Deer.
    *–Note how BE's experience fits into the Jungian Joseph Campbell's sequence for the "Hero" archetype: 1) descent (here, ascent: 17-18); 2) "initiation" (reorientation of the psyche via an encounter with forces of the unconscious: 18-34); and 3) return (34-36). . . . Alternately, the brain physiologist might perceive an OBE (out-of-body experience) or near-death experience in BE's psychic journey: "When I got up to follow [the two arrow-slant men] . . . I was very light" (17); on his "return," he sees a body "lying like the dead–and that one was myself" (35)

cleansing wind
sacred herb
white giant('s white wing)
white geese
wooden cup of water
bows & arrows
thunder (beings,
& Thunderbird)

– Black -|- Road –


"daybreak star"
(and sun, of course)
sacred (red pipestone) pipe
spotted eagle
of understanding"
sacred/red/flowering stick
(=>flowering/holy tree)
sacred hoop
    1 RED "is the color that belongs to the Sun. . . . The color is invoked by shamans, and it represents the coming and the going of the sun. When one wears red the Sun is pleased and will listen to such a one. The Indians are red[!], so they are the favorite people of the sun" (James R. Walker, Lakota Belief and Ritual 108). (See also BES 153-154 for more on the meanings of the four directions.)

    *–call to HEALING vocation: BE's several "rehearsals" thereof in the vision (21, 25-27, 31) . . . usually accompanied by archetypal "rebirth"/fertility imagery: wooden cup of water, flowering tree, "daybreak star" . . . Crucially, the great healing, especially, of the people, animals, and earth (25-27) anticipates the main goal of the Ghost Dance religion.
    *–CENTERing imagery (cf. Jung, Eliade): at the "center of the earth" (20; see also 22, 26, 33; and cf. Eliade's studies of the "Tree of Life" that usually stands at the "center" of the cosmos/world); the sacred hoop; the people's circled tepees/villages . . . including Jung's QUATERNITY ("4"): the interminable reiteration of groups of 4 (and twelve)–horses, generations, chant repetitions, etc.; note that, for Jung, four is number of wholeness, psychic integration, the ego's union with the psychic center of the unconscious "Self"
    *–ceremonial reiterative style–e.g., p. 24, where BE seems to repeat the "story" again
    *–HUMAN/ANIMAL interelatedness: again, the boundaries of human and "animal" are porous (e.g., 28), and BE himself eventually becomes the Spotted Eagle soaring above the earth & people (28-29); the finale of the vision is the eagle "hovering over" him and saying, "'Look back!'"; finally, apparently, alone, there is the "spotted eagle" still "guarding" him (36). BE's "animal-spirit-helper" thus becomes this eagle–cf. BE's "vision"-name: "Eagle Wing Stretches" (20). (Finally, my favorite–"uncanny"–part is the eagle etched on the sacred pipe that comes "alive," with "its eyes looking at" BE! [22])
Ornithology Workshop: "What the $%#@ is a 'Spotted Eagle'?!"
As even the most neophyte birder knows, there are only TWO eagle species in the U.S., the Bald Eagle and the Golden Eagle. But Luther Standing Bear speaks (Like Black Elk) of the Spotted Eagle, and indeed, of FOUR (surprise!) different kinds of eagles (wanbli) in Lakota tradition: the golden eagle of the east, symbol of the sun . . . the spotted eagle of the south; the black eagle of the west . . . and the bald eagle of the north" (Land of the Spotted Eagle 122). (Note that Black Elk places the "spotted eagle" in the east instead.) After months of research, I finally discovered that the "spotted eagle" (wanbli gles[k]ka)–and likely the "black eagle," too–is, in fact, the immature Golden or Bald species, both of which have a more mottled appearance in the first few years of their lives. I also suspect that the species most commonly intended is the immature Golden Eagle [pictured], more the "regal" soaring bird of the plains and hills (rather than the often scavenger fish-eagle that the Bald is). Whatever the case, the "spotted eagle" is the "holiest" bird for the Lakota, the primary intermediary and "messenger of Wakantanka" (William K. Powers, Oglala Religion 88, 165).
    *–Prophecy of the "four generations": BE is presentingly seeing the 3rd ~(23); he sees bad times at the end of the third–the hoop "broken" and the tree "dying" (29)–and 4th will be even worse, as he expresses in the famous sentence, "It was dark and terrible about me, for all the winds of the world were fighting" (30). (Note that Neihardt's footnote reveals a desire to read BE's prophecy as relating to Western political events. And indeed, doesn't the following sound like "modern times," à la Yeats' "The Second Coming"!?: "the people ran here and there, for each one seemed to have his own little vision that he followed and his own rules; and all over the universe I could hear the winds at war like wild beasts fighting" (29; see also 165-166).
    *–finally, how much of (at least) JGN's rendition of BE's Great Vision fraught with cultural hybridity? Michael Castro, for instance, suggests that the "circle-within-circle of Black Elk's Great Vision [33] as rewritten by Neihardt" bears the influence of Dante's Paradiso (182; emphasis added).
     [source: Castro, Michael.  Interpreting the Indian: Twentieth-Century Poets and the Native American.  Albuquerque: U of New Mexico P, 1983.]

*Chapter 4: "The Bison Hunt" (37-46)
    –1st memories of Great Vision visceral, numinous, imagistic; beyond "words" (37-38); "meanings" & "words" thereof "clearer"[!?] only in later retrospect (38))  [offer "my own" theory on right-brain/Lacanian Imaginary vs. left-brain/Lacanian Symbolic?]. . . BE wants to return to GV, "homesick for the place where I had been" (38-39)
    –BE's strangeness, his aura, recognized by medicine man (Whirlwind Chaser): "there is something special for him to do . . . I could see a power like a light all through his body" (38) . . . Standing Bear's testimony regarding the recovered BE: "he was not like a boy. He was more like an old man" (40); and BE's father notes his "queer ways" (40) . . . QUEER feeling: see also 41 ("nation" on "red road"); 47 ("thunder"); 59 (thunder/swallows/warning "voice"); 81, 83 ("something terrible": Little Bighorn; regarding "something terrible," see also 196 [Wounded Knee]); 113 (Crows prophecy); 119 (Blackfeet enemies); 154, 156 (during first cure); 184-186, 188 (during Ghost Dance)
    –subsequent momentary feelings of "queer"-ness: 1st time, an avian reminder (when aiming at a "little bird") that he "was to be like a relative to the birds," an inkling of ethical eco-relatedness; sure, he kills a frog immediately afterwards!–but the death makes him "want to cry" (39)
    –buffalo hunt per se (40-45)  [cf. Luther Standing Bear's (even more "exciting") recounting of his first Lakota buffalo hunt, "At Last I Kill a Buffalo," in My Indian Boyhood (1931)]
        –note social appeal to hunters: "you shall feed the helpless" (43)–cf. subsequent similar pathos-centered appeals to warriors before battle to the "community" (the hungry, the children, the elderly): e.g., 85, 91, 93, 96, 207 [but note that this last is Red Cloud's appeal, for different motive/result]
    –"comic interlude": Standing Bear's 1st kill, after which he keeps yelling the "kill" word, until "People must have thought I had was killing a whole herd, the way I yelled" (44) . . . (and cf. Chapter 6 entire)
    –cultural sexism: playing the Lakota version of "chicken" (lighting sunflower seeds on boys' wrists): don't say "Owh!" or they'd "be called women" (46; for similar sexist appeals to machismo, see also 84)

 TH, Jan. 19th::
*Chapter 5: "At the Soldiers' Town [Fort Robinson]" (47-51)
    –1st ref. to Crazy Horse, "who would have nothing to do with the" wasicu (47) . . . vs. Red Cloud, who was "through with fighting" (48)
    –1st sight of the wasicu: "At first I thought they all looked sick" (48)!
    –return of the SPOTTED EAGLE from GV, whistling, and "hovering over" him: as if "I was in the world of my vision again" (49); afterwards, 1st prophecy, of the deer coming (and slain–but BE feels sorry again, beseeches his father to make an "offering" to the "wild things" [49-50])
    –"comic interlude": Watanye, the laugher–with cracked & bleeding lips! (50-51) . . . (and cf. next chapter "entire")

*Chapter 6: "High Horse's Courting" (52-58)
[as told by Watanye, as the book's narrative envelope/frame becomes even more convoluted–"Why does JGN include it at this point?"]
    –"Universal" human touch?!: young men's love "sickness" (52-53; = BE's [or Watanye's?!] general comments on Lakota tradition/introduction to High Horse's story)
    –From a Western point of view, the courtship is inordinately sexist, of course; e.g., the father's control, and Red Deer's incredible statement, "'Probably she wants you to steal her anyway'" (54)?!
    –Note oral-tradition framework–the casual/"spoken" tone of introduction, etc. ("You know, in the old days" [52]); and the series of three plans (the 3rd–successful–one quite accidental, to be sure): this schema lives on in today's "dirty" jokes?!–and the standard comedy formula, of two serious replies/statements and a third, humorous punch-line.
    –Finally, the downright humor:
        –1st plan's execution: "his knife slipped and stuck the girl"!? (55)
        –2nd plan, High Horse's "paint job": he falls asleep!–and his beloved awakes to see "a terrible animal, all white with black stripes on it, lying asleep beside her bed" (57)
        –3rd plan: the 100 horses stolen from the Crows: HH asks "if maybe[!] that would be enough horses for his girl" (58).
    [Textual note: my 1961 ed. has an additional sentence (p. 55, 2nd full par.): "She gave a big, loud yell. Then the old folks jumped up and yelled too. By this time . . . .]

*Chapter 7: "Washicus in the Hills" (59-69)
    –"thunder . . . from the west" (cf. GV), and trouble: "queer" from the "split-tail swallows" (Barn Swallows) reminding BE of his vision [see p. 30], and subsequent alarm at the boys throwing rocks at them, for the "swallows seemed holy" (59)
    –Custer [Pahunska = "long hair"], et al.'s, expedition for gold in the Black Hills: ignoring 1868 treaty–for "as long as the grass should grow and water flow"! . . . because the "yellow metal . . . makes the Wasichus crazy," while the Lakota know "it was not good for anything" (60)
        Fort Laramie Treaty, 1868
    –outrage of Crazy Horse & Sitting Bull (61, 62); versus "Red Cloud's people," the "'Hangs-Around-the-Fort'" crowd (61; see also 63, 100) [cf. French Vichy?!–the "native" collaborateurs during the Nazi occupation]
    –sad language assimilationism: "Tunkasila" (Grandfather) now applied to the U.S. President (62)! (cf. Lakota "Flag Song")
    –BE personally sad regarding the plight of the Black Hills because of the GV, in which Harney Peak is the "center of the world," the Hills a special PLACE of his tribe and vision (62)
    –BE's 1st conscious attempt to re-create his vision: "alone," and "under a tree" (63)
    –horse race, and association of the geese of the North ("white wing") with speed (63)–later to be invoked in battle
        –CH's "sacred power" in battle (64) derived from his early vision(s); his family (& BE's) had a tradition of wicasa wakan; a rather Platonic vision of the "spirit world" versus mundane "shadow world" (65) [BE refers to his later "great" vision on Bear Butte; CH's 1st hanblecia/vision quest–circa age 14–included fasting, until, on the 4TH day, he experienced a vision, of a warrior on horseback, with a lightning zigzag on his cheek and wearing a stone behind his ear, with one mere feather in his hair, and no scalps; the man, moreover, was impervious to bullets: CH would later dress (and behave) accordingly in battle. Fittingly enough, the experience included both a visionary and a real "red-backed" hawk (that is, a kestrel, aka sparrow hawk). According to Luther Standing Bear, rather than the single (kestrel) feather of the vision, he wore "the full body of a hawk [kestrel] on the left side of his head" (My People the Sioux 88)–and "Hoka he'd" away! (Either way, he was not your typical warrior-headdress conformist.)
        –Character: like BE, a "queer man," withdrawn and alone–walking around (as if) unaware of anyone, "except little children"! [Christ analogue?]; unconcern for material possessions, starved himself when camp low on food: "Maybe he was always part way into that world of his vision" (66)
    –December, 1875: U.S. government's call for all Lakota to go to forts/reservations or be deemed "hostiles" fit to be hunted down as enemies of the state (68); BE's defense (& eventual refrain): but it's "our own country" and we "were doing no harm"; and we "only wanted to be left alone" (69; see also 80, 96, 102; 201 [women & children])

*Chapter 8: "The Fight with Three Stars [General Crook]" (70-79)
    –That is, Battle of the Rosebud (Montana): just eight days before the Battle of the Little Bighorn
    –BE's father's decision to join Crazy Horse (& denigration of Red Cloud) (70)
    –"flood" image/motif: "the river of Wasichus" (71; see also 177)
    –BE's 1st battle: like Crazy Horse?, thinking of his vision "maybe . . . helped" (71; see also 84)
    –Sun Dance [cf. Luther Standing Bear's more ("painfully") detailed account of the Lakota Sun Dance in My People the Sioux (1928)]
        –fertility motif: time (June); "women . . . bearing children, etc.: "the Sun loves all fruitfulness" (73)
        –emphasis again on "four," and centering (73-74)
        –SACRIFICE ritual: rawhide strips tied into cut torso; sacrificial "victims" then strain until the "flesh tore loose" (74)  [cf. Deloria's introduction, his privileging of "sacrifice" (xvi)?]
    –"comic interlude": Iron Hawk's narration of battle–not the bravest fellow in the camp!?(76); spends most of the day of the battle–EATING! (77-78; see also IH's "shaky" appearance at the Little Bighorn [91])

 TU, Jan. 24th::
Chapter 9: "The Rubbing Out of Long Hair" (80-99)
Battle of the Little Bighorn (1876): Tribal Representation (p. 80)::::
Oglala5 of the 71 bands
of the Lakota ([Teton] "Sioux")
[western SD, etc.]
Crazy Horse (47, etc.); (elder) American Horse (101-102); (elder) Hump (64-65); BLACK ELK
HunkpapaSitting Bull (72, etc.); Gall (84); Iron Hawk (speaker in BES: e.g., 91-95) [and, BTW, though not at the battle!: Vine Deloria, Jr.]
Mnikoju ("Minneconjou")Lame Deer ("leader of the battle"); Lone Horn; Spotted Elk (Big Foot); (younger) Hump (72); (Joseph) White Bull (who later claimed to have been the one to kill Custer); Fast Bull (72); Standing Bear (speaker in BES: e.g., 86-91)
Sans Arc 
SanteeDakota ("Sioux") [Minn, eastern SD] 
YanktonaisNakota ([Yankton] "Sioux") [southeastern SD] 
Cheyenne (S[h]ahíyela][Wyoming, etc.] 
[–and some Arapaho]  
    1 Apparently absent were the Two Kettles and Brulé Lakota bands.
    2 Not to be confused with the Blackfeet/Blackfoot tribe of Montana.
    –BE's 1st partic. in healing ceremony (81-82); note "motifs" similar to BE's GV, though Hairy Chin is a "Bear" medicine man
    –warriors riding like "swallows" (85): the Lakota in battle often invoked swallows, like geese, for their swift flight and–regarding swallows per se–for their erratic motion. Moreover: "Certain birds, such as the swallows, spotted eagles, hawks (that is the grey grouse hawks [goshawk? aka "chicken hawk"]) are mysterious" (Walker, Lakota Belief and Ritual 102)
    –the reader's main impression of the battle one of helter-skelter confusion and mayhem?–exemplified by Standing Bear's "We were all crazy" paragraph, so "crazy" that they accidentally scalped a Cheyenne ally (88)
    –or is the main impression one of sheer horror?–Standing Bear cannot even sleep that night "because when I shut my eyes I could see all those horrible sights again" (90).
    –Iron Hawk's "righteous anger" in battle (as he keeps "beating" a dead soldier): "These Wasichus wanted it, and they came to get it, and we gave it to them" (93) . . . Later, regarding the soldiers killed in the river, trying to fill their buckets: "I guess they got enough to drink, for they are drinking yet" (94)
    –"comic interludes": "Two fat old [Native] women" and the naked (live!) soldier (94) . . . the soldier hiding in the bush, tormented by the Native boys' amateurish bow-&-arrow efforts: "Once he yelled 'Ow'" (97)!
    –BE (finally): initial ignorance about his find, a time-piece, until he found out how to wind it (95): is there a metaphor here?!
    –suggestion of cannibalism!? (96)
    –Like Iron Hawk, BE isn't sorry for the many dead (but such a strange–uh–translation?!): "I was a happy boy"; moreover, he "knew this would happen," given his people's kinship with the "thunder beings of my vision" (96)
    –chapter's finale: spontaneous "kill-songs," à la impromptu street rap, etc. (98-99)–not bad for a bunch of "illiterates" incapable of the literary arts. . . .

*Chapter 10: "Walking the Black Road" (100-106)
    –Historical realities (1876): Sitting Bull & Gall to Canada; but Crazy Horse staying in "the country that was ours" (101)
    –Translation realities: Neihardt's choice are translating the Lakota wi as "moon" (100) (as in–ugh–"many moons"!?) is rather a poetic (and primitivist) archaicism, since the word just as well means "month" as it does "moon" in Lakota.
        –Canada as "Grandmother's Land" (101, etc.): refers to Queen Victoria! (cf. U.S. President as "Grandfather")
    –whisky: mniwakan ("holy[?!] water"–no irony there . . .)
    –"forced" signing of the Treaty of 1876, ceding the Black Hills (103) [As an historical sidenote, one chief of the Mnikoju, Lone Horn, is said to have "died of shame" soon afterwards.]
        –BE's "land ethic": "But only crazy or very foolish men would sell their Mother Earth." Then the incredible plaint, "Sometimes I think it might have been better if we had stayed together and made them kill us all" (103).
    –starvation plight: eating their ponies, many dying babies (102-103)
    –Crazy Horse's now even "queerer" behavior: even more withdrawn, as if, sensing his immanent death, he is "thinking how to help us when he would not be with us any more" (104)
    –in contrast, Spotted Tail has grown fat on "Wasichu food" (105-106): "How could men get fat by being bad, and starve by being good?" (The eternal question of Western theology & ethics, too!?) . . . ergo, BE himself begins to doubt his vision: "maybe it was only a queer dream after all" (106)

*Chapter 11: "The Killing of Crazy Horse" (107-111)
    –Lakotas' suspicion (supported by history) that CH's "impromptu" slaying was planned by the wasicu (107-109)
    –CH's almost Christ-like death: refuses to see the "Great Father" in Washington, D.C. because "'there is no Great Father between me and the Great Spirit'" (cf. Christ's words regarding Caesar)
    –BE's wonderfully moving paragraph of tribute (109): "Crazy Horse was dead. He was brave and good and wise. . . ." At last, "I cried all night, and so did my father."
    –Not only did CH refuse to be photographed while alive, but note how his parents are intend on keeping his body "hidden" in death. BE seems almost joyous that his body "might be lying over there," not far from them; but at last, the place of his remains is no matter: "but where his spirit is, it will be good to be" (111). (Uttered by an old man, whose "dream" has "failed"–and so now looking forward to such a place himself?)

*Chapter 12: "Grandmother's Land" (112-118)
    –impending doom of Reservation life (and assimilation): "they were going to pen us up in little islands and make us live like Wasichus" (112)
    –VOCAB. note: "How" is Neihardt's mispelling of "hau," Lakota for both greeting ("hello") & assent ("yes," "agreed") (113; see also 203)
    Why does the "Injun" say "Hau"?--I mean, "How"?: MP3 excerpt from Disney's "What Made the Red Man Red" (Peter Pan)
    –ergo?–BE becoming more conscious of his visionary calling (112-113): "I wondered when my power would grow" (113)
    –finally SPEAKS to another of his visions: tells uncle of his "queer feeling" prophetic of their encounter with the enemy tribe, the Crows (113-114); tells Iron Tail that he's "heard a voice in the clouds" and that they should flee (114 [the Crows again]) . . . then informs father of the coyote who's told him where the bison are (116)
    –plaintive coda conflating hungry Lakota and hungry porcupines (118): the porcupines huddle near the camp, for warmth, "crying because they were so cold"–and the humans let them be, feeling sorry for them; and when the "old people" talk of the good old days, BE feels "like crying." (Oh, my poor young porcupine!)

*Chapter 13: "The Compelling Fear" (119-123)
    –the "grasses": oh, "their tender faces"! (119; see also 122, 138, 149)
    –"queer" inkling about the Blackfeet, voices of the thunder, etc., confirmation of his growing powers; but another Sun Dance reminds him of his vision and that he has still done nothing about it; now he FEARS the thunder, the very clouds–at last, the voices telling him, "It is time! It is time! It is time!" (121) . . . ergo BE becomes more withdrawn and "queer," as the crows, too, mock him (122)
    –confessing (as it were) his vision to the medicine man Black Road, the man's solution is that vision needs public praxis: a "horse dance . . . for the people" (123)

*Chapter 14: "The Horse Dance" (124-135)
    –BE's prep. for ceremony: fasting, purification (sweat lodge, sage) (124)
    –memories of GV include "all the songs that" he "had heard"! (124)
    –[typos: p. 126, 1st sentence: "straight black lines"; p. 126, 3rd paragraph: "bright red streaks"]
    –note the "quaternal" chant (4 syllables, 4 times): "Hey-a-a-hey! hey-a-a-hey! hey-a-a-hey! hey-a-a-hey!" (129; see also 154; 209: during BE's "final ceremony")
    –BE's "shadow" metaphysics encore: he "could see that what we then were doing [the actual ceremony] was like a shadow cast upon the earth from yonder vision in the heavens. I knew the real was yonder and the darkened dream[!] of it was here" (129-130). . . . and yet that "shadow" must have been a grand procession, visually! (see espec. 131)
    synchronicity: ceremony punctuated with a rainstorm response from the "thunder beings" (130-131; see also 124-125) . . . even more eerie event: upon returning to the tepee, they see on the design of the sacred hoop in the soil "tiny pony hooves as though the spirit horses had been dancing while we danced" (134)
    –further praxis: the curing of individuals (131, 133)
    *–climactic prayer one of fertility/rebirth (and "naturism," much in the spirit of the Ghost Dance to come): "'Guide the people that they may be as blossoms on your holy tree, and make it flourish deep in Mother Earth and make it full of leaves and singing birds'" (132).
    –BE's new dedication to GV: now rises early to view the "daybreak star" of the East–the direction of (especially shamanic) "understanding" (135) (via the analogy of "light," no doubt)

*Chapter 15: "The Dog Vision" (136-144)
    –"alone," BE receives a reminder from the two "slant-arrow" men that he "should do" his "duty" to his people (137)
    *–but then the notable retrospective passage, after the "failure" of the dream: "now when I look upon my people in despair, I feel like crying and I wish and wish my vision could have been given to a man more worthy." Sure, he's cured individuals, but he realizes that means little in the grand ecological scheme of things, which concerns races & species, not individuals: "If a man or woman or child dies, it does not matter long, for the nation lives on. It was the nation that was dying, and the vision was for the nation; but I have done nothing with it." (138)
    *–HANBLECIA/vision quest: as part of "lament" [the hanblecia is also known as "crying for a vision"], BE fasts for four days, out alone: "But the place was full of people; for the spirits were there" (139) . . . three birds from three directions (spotted eagle, "chicken hawk" [who eventually speaks], and "black swallow"; from fourth direction, the south, come "beautiful butterflies," crying: "a pitful, whimpering noise" (140-141)! . . . DOGS from a cloud of dust, soon charged upon by the butterflies-changed-to-swallows (141-142); the dogs' heads become those of the wasicu
    –subsequent DREAM–of healing the "sick" via the healing herb–and a plethora of rebirth imagery: the light of dawn, the rejuvenation of nature (birds, horses, bison), and–most startling?!–"clouds of baby faces smiling at me" (143)!
    –As with the GV, his hanblecia needs fulfillment in the real world, via the . . . [next chapter]

*Chapter 16: "Heyoka Ceremony" (145-149)
    *– Via HEYOKAs (trickster-esque Lakota "holy fools," through whom "everything is backwards"), BE offers a Lakota philosophy of tragedy & comedy: "the truth comes into this world with two faces," but both create an imbalance; the heyoka's job, BE surmises, is to correct, to reverse (ergo the "backwards"), this one-sidedness. . . . [cf. Shakespeare's fools (and Jung's shadow) as performing a similar function of redressing the king's (& ego's) imbalance?]
    –ceremony per se: ritual slaying of dog (146-; maybe the strangest–and most [culinarily] disturbing–chapter in the book, for the Westerner) . . . meanwhile, the heyokas provide a comic sideshow of sorts during the proceedings, via such props as bent arrows (147-148)
    *–But through such shenanigans (and canine corpse consumption) comes a tribal renewal: they are "better able now to see the greenness of the world, the wideness of the sacred day"; and–"Like the grasses showing tender faces to each other, thus we should do" (149).

*Chapter 17: "The First Cure" (150-156)
    *–SQUARE vs. the CIRCLE: Anglos' square "gray houses" ("a bad way to live, for there can be no power in a square") versus the Lakota circle: "Everything an Indian does is in a circle," for "everything [in nature] tries to be round"; note the "Nature" origin of such a privileging: "Birds make their nests in circles, for theirs is the same religion as ours" (150)! Indeed, BE pursues this avian analogue: "Our tepees were round like the nests of birds, and these were always set in a circle, the nation's hoop, a nest of many nests," where we "hatch[!] our children" (150-151).
    –But now the Lakota stuck into "these square boxes"; moreover, they are "prisoners of war" (151)
    –Search for the "four-rayed" herb, for "curing" (151): aided again by birds (indeed, by FOUR kinds of ~), who lead him to the spot (152)
    *–1st cure per se: notable is the "rumbling thunder" of BE's drum, a non-verbal rhythm reminding me of Julia Kristeva's theory of the prelingual (but rhythmic) semiotic, from whence I would suggest the GV originally issued (and which words–the Lacanian Symbolic–must inevitably corrupt): "Its sound . . . makes men feel the mystery and power of things" (153). . . . human/humorous touch: BE knows "now that only one power would have" sufficed, but the then-neophyte "called on every power there is" (155)! . . . human/plaintive touch: "queer" feeling while healing the poor sick boy includes "something that made me want to cry for all unhappy things, and there were tears on my face" (156)
    –Successful cure–only 19 years old–and his career/reputation now established (156)

 TH, Jan. 26th::
*Chapter 18: "The Powers of the Bison and the Elk" (157-163)
    –most explicit statement regarding the fact that visions require realization, must be "performed" (157)
    *–PROBLEMs of communicating vision!?: no one has heard the GV entire until Neihardt; and BE re-acknowledges the crucial non-verbal (and much less communicable) elements thereof: "there was very much in the vision that even I can not tell when I try hard, because very much of it is not for words. But I have told what can be told." And he still wonders if he has done the right thing in telling it–does this end the power? Having "given away" the vision, "maybe I cannot live very long now. But I think I have done right to save the vision in this way" (158).
    –Bison ceremony: the bison, associated with the east (and sun), are thus equated with the "red man" (the shaman [sic] of "understanding")–and the Lakota people (157-158) . . . but the eagle feather must be involved, too, to the point that "The eagle and the bison–like relatives they walk" (159) . . . now BE "feel[s] the power with me all the time" (160)
        –a bit of Catholic subtext, when the children are given "a little of the water of life from the wooden cup" (160)?
    –Elk ceremony: assoc. with the south, ergo fertility & life
        –a statement begging for depth-psychology commentary?: "the growing power is rooted in mystery like the night, and reaches lightward" (161)
        *–women: assoc. with the moon; with fertility ("flowering stick"), domesticity ("sacred hoop"), and peace ("sacred pipe"): "for all these powers together"–so central to BE's GV–"are women's power"; and so, while these associations seem as sexist as the pro-male assertions (e.g., "upon the backs of men the nation is carried" and "the power of man encircles and protects the power of the woman"), there is yet a quite gynocentric fundament to Lakota culture (161-163)

*Chapter 19: "Across the Big Water" (164-171)
    –slaughtering of the last significant buffalo herds by the wasicu: wastefully, for gold, or for mere bloodlust (164)
    *–Reservation life now, in them damned "square gray houses": the "hoop" is "broken," and no "center" remains (164; cf. Yeats' "The center cannot hold; / Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world. . . .") . . . hunger, partly from Anglo mismanagement & greed: "There were many lies, but we could not eat them" (165; see also 177)! . .  At last, in line with the "broken hoop": "What are many little lives if the life of those lives be gone?" . . . to BE's sorrow and shame, his people "were not living that [old] way any more. They were traveling the black road. . . ." (165)
    –Reason for agreeing to travel with Buffalo Bill's troupe: maybe he can learn something from "the great world of the Wasichu" to help his people & his dream (165) . . . And so to Omaha->Chicago->New York, and to utter . . .
    *"–Alienation: BE now "like a man who had never had a vision. I felt dead and my people seemed lost" (167; see also 178)
        *–and the Anglos?: "I could see that the Wasichus did not care for each other the way our people did"; BE even turns a touch Marxist, as it were: "They would take everything from each other if they could, and so there were some who had more of everything than they could use, while crowds of people had nothing at all"; in sum, "They had forgotten that the earth was their mother" (167).
    *–& Imprisonment: sees NY prison and thinks of the Res: "my own people too were penned up in islands"; and characteristically, this colonizing drive extends to nature itself: "the Wasichus had even the grass penned up" (167)!!
    –"comedy" of the boat trip (168-169)–until the tragedy & sorrow: "When I saw the poor bison thrown over, I felt like crying, because right there I thought they were throwing part of the power of my people away" (169)
    –strange section on the Queen of England (169-171): BE & company rather too proud and happy regarding her interest?!; cheering & singing for her, as if blinded by the sheer pomp "ceremony" (hmmm) of it all? . . . (Note: the "Jubilee" was in honor of the 50th year of Victoria's reign [1887].)
        –Note on "All the Queen's Horses": you no doubt noticed by this point the queen's equines: FOUR of 'em, followed by EIGHT (170-171), a vestige, at least, of the "primitive" quaternity" in the spectacle-center of "civilization."

*Chapter 20: "The Spirit Journey" (172-176)
    –lost from troupe, then "to Paris, and a "Wasichu [French?] girl" and family (172)
    –ill again, and visionary "trip home" (173-174)–house ascent rather "Wizard-of-Oz"-esque?!: back to Black Hills & Pine Ridge, where he sees a large camp gathering
    –[another typo: p. 173, last paragraph: "Then I was alone. . . ."]
    –humorous (and pathetic, at last) "crack" regarding coffin (175)
    –finds Buffalo Bull, returns home–to the large gathering that he had prophesied (175-176); and his mother had even dreamed of his spirit-return "on a cloud" (176)

*Chapter 21: "The Messiah" (177-183)
    –*Passages from James Mooney's The Ghost-Dance Religion and the Sioux Outbreak of 1890*–
        Note above all how the Ghost Dance Religion was a syncretic medley of Christian messianism & millennialism and traditional Native beliefs & ceremonialism:
        –Quot. from "Messiah Letter" of Wovoka (Jack Wilson): "Do not tell the white people about this. Jesus is now upon the earth" (781).   {--complete text of the "Messiah Letter"--}  Wovoka-as-Messiah ("Wanekia") is himself conflated with Christ: Lakota "delegates" sent to check him out reported "a man . . . who said he was the son of God, who had once been killed by the whites[!], and who bore on his body the scars of the crucifixion. He had now returned to punish the whites for their wickedness" (820; see BES 181: "son of the Great Spirit," etc.).
        –Wovoka's dogma includes "a predicted Indian millennium or 'return' of the ghosts,' when the white man would be annihilated" (787). (A government agent at Standing Rock writes, "It would seem impossible that any person, no matter how ignorant, could be brought to believe such absurd nonsense" [787n].)
        –"The [Ghost] dance is to continue four successive nights, in accord with the regular Indian system[!], in which four is the sacred number, as three is in Christianity" (782).
    –wretched Reservation conditions (177-178)   [social conditions emphasized by Mooney (see above) in his explanations of the attraction of the "Messiah Craze"]
    *–the Paiute prophet Wovoka's promise of a "new earth" (178); Lakota delegation visits him, return with exuberant report, but BE still skeptical (178-179, 181-182); Wovoka's message quite messianistic & millennialist (179), two religious characteristics rather alien to most Native worldviews::::
    –but BE notes similarities to own GV; then his own father dies (180)  [no cynical readings regarding Freudian displacement possible here?!: see 182]
    *–crucial is the ecological promise of the GD religion: the return of the bison and "other animals," and of the "beautiful green land" (179, 181)
    –BE's own "conversion": witnesses dance–a "circle"! and "center"! and "red"!: all serve as a spur to his own GV-mission, he is overwhelmed with a "great happiness," and now he "will dance with them" (182-183).

*Chapter 22: "Visions of the Other World" (184-190)
    –joining the dance: "the power was in me" (184), and the "queer feeling" (185-186, 188)
    –mass visions: as dancers collapsed to the ground in their fervor, "they were having visions . . . and many were crying for the old way of living and that the old religion might be with them again" (185)
    *–BE's own GD vision: flying / spotted eagle / "a beautiful land" and "living light" and the people in "a great circle"; at last, an eco-renewal: "green, green grass" and "animals of all kinds"–epitomized in "a beautiful tree all green and full of flowers (186) . . . near-death experience?: told it's "not yet time to see your father" (186)
    –from vision, fashions own Ghost Dance shirts (187) (a Lakota innovation, BTW, of the GD, as Mooney tells us)
    –2nd dancing vision, of six villages "all clear and green in living light"; and the Wanekia, with an "eagle feather," and who "spoke like singing" (188)! . . . tells others of vision (189-190), and finally wonders if the Wanekia could have been the "red man" of his GV (190)
    *–If my "eco-"emphasis regarding the Ghost Dance is correct, it is significant, then, that BE ends up at "the sixth village," that is, "the Sixth Grandfather, the Spirit of the Earth, because I was to stand for him in the world" (190).

*Chapter 23: "Bad Trouble Coming" (191-195)
    –now "the Indians were beginning to dance everywhere"; why?–"hungry and in despair, and many believed in the good new world that was coming" (191)
    –another vision, of the "Flaming Rainbow," but BE, in retrospect, considers it "his great mistake" to have followed his Ghost-Dance "lesser visions" (especially that of the "two sticks") rather than his original GV (192)
    –more humor? (and pathos): the agent decides "that we could dance three days" a month, but "the rest of the time we should go and make a living for ourselves somehow. He could not say how we could do that" (193)!
    –Dead relatives now said to be in the "Other World," with the "Wanekia" (= Christian Heaven"?); BE speaks out publicly in favor of the Wanekia and the "new world that is coming" (193-194)
    –Other events: Sitting Bull murdered (194); The Mnikoju Big Foot and people (and some of Sitting Bull's) on their way to Wounded Knee in the wake of SB's death. Then "something terrible happened" (195).

*Chapter 24: "The Butchering [note word choice] at Wounded Knee" (196-201)  {right after Xmas!, 1890}
    –hearing the gunfire of the slaughter, BE dons his GD "sacred shirt," which "protected him" that day (196-197) . . . incl. "one eagle feather for the One Above" (hmmm–quite Christian in its phrasing?)
    –irony (of those who write the history): "the Wasichus sometimes call it Battle Creek now" (197) (Regarding the "standard" textbook names for conflicts in the 19th-c. West, it's now a commonplace commentary that, when the Cavalry won, it was called a battle; when the Indians won, it was a "massacre.")
    –joins in latter part of "battle": "The bullets did not hit us at all" (due to BE's "power") (198; see also 199); finds and wraps up " little baby" (198-199)
    *–the PATHOS of the scene: "Dead and women and children and little babies"; "I saw a little baby trying to suck its mother, but she was bloody and dead" (199); bodies "heaped and scattered" (199-200; see also 207) . . . BE vows revenge (200)
        *–Mooney's incredible(ly racist–and speciesist) commentary: "Four babies were found alive under the snow, wrapped in shawls and lying beside their dead mothers, whose last thought had been of them. . . . [O]nly one lived." And yet–"The tenacity of life so characteristic of wild people as well as of wild beasts was strikingly illustrated" here (Ghost-Dance Religion 876-877)!?!?
    –flashback/account of how massacre began (Yellow Bird) (200-201)
    –synchronicity of the weather: started as a "good winter day," then snow, & blizzard, & cold, as if too mimic the "cold-blooded" events of the day (201)

*Chapter 25: "The End of the Dream" (202-207)
    –(strange place? for more) comic(?) relief: return to Pine Ridge, to supper, and gunshots into the tipi: "but we kept right on eating. . . . If that bullet had only killed me, then I could have died with papa [jerky] in my mouth" (202)
    –now bent on revenge: "this time I took a gun with me" (203; see also 205) . . . note that he didn't go armed to Wounded Knee "because I was a little in doubt about the Wanekia religion at that time, and I did not really want to kill anybody because of it" (203)
    –skirmish at the Mission; any symbolic ramifications in the following?!: "there are many bullets in the Mission yet" (203)
        –charges like the "geese of the north" of his GV, even imitating the sound; impervious to bullets until he "wakes" out of his vision-power; only THEN is shot (204; no doubt the cynic might see some retrospective "creative memory" at work here?)
        –though his "insides were coming out," wants to return to battle; but "'Your people need you'" for later, greater duties (204)–as will John G. Neihardt!
    –retreat north to Badlands; saves other warriors in subsequent skirmish: "for a little while, I was a wanekia myself" (206; with connotations of the Christian Savior)
    –HISTORICAL resolution of the conflict incredibly anti-climactic: Red Cloud talks them into surrendering, making "peace," whereupon they return to Pine Ridge, to a display of power, armed U.S. soldiers arrayed "in two lines" (207)
        –The Dakota writer (and physician, then assigned to Pine Ridge) Charles Eastman wrote his own account of Wounded Knee, from a "hangs-around-the-fort" point of view that initially presents the Ghost Dancers as lawless & irrational "unfriendlies." But by the time he describes this same military display–"no doubt intended to impress the Indians with their superior force"–Eastman is no longer that impressed, having witnessed the results of the slaughter ("The Ghost Dance War," in Eastman's From Deep Woods to Civilization).
    –EMOTIONAL climax, of "DEATH" & "ending"–final 3 paragraphs (207; NOTE that these paragraphs aren't in the original interview-transcripts!): "I did not know then how much was ended." Besides the ghost dancers themselves, "something else died there in the blood snow . . . . A people's dream died there. It was a beautiful dream." BUT: "so great a vision," so "pitiful [an] old man" (see also 158); "the nation's hoop is broken and scattered. There is no center any longer, and the sacred tree is dead."  

*Author's Postscript (208-210)  –or: "The Sky Clears"?!
    –BE's last attempt to "perform" GV, at the "center of the world," Harney Peak::::
    –weather synchronicity, encore (or rather, prophecy): BE still has the power, to bring "at least a little thunder and a little rain" to a "perfectly clear" sky & season of drought (208)
    –entreats the "Grandfather" one last time, speaking of "the life of things" (cf. Wordsworth's "Tintern Abbey," in which the poet speaks of his own visionary moments when "we see into the life of things") and "the goodness and the beauty and the strangeness of the greening earth" (209)
    –final TONE of last page (210)–despair?, or hope, even prophecy? (And/or how much of this "Postscript" is "choreographed" by Neihardt?): "O Great Spirit . . . with running tears I must say now that the tree has never bloomed" (Oh! . . . cf. Job's wronged-and-righteous[?] words to Jehovah? even Christ's "Why hast thou forsaken me?"?) . . . Last hopeful prayer: "It may be that some little root of he sacred tree still lives. Nourish it then, that it may leaf and bloom and fill with singing birds. [I am suddenly reminded of the tone of the finale to P.B. Shelley's "Ode to the West Wind."] Hear me, not for myself, but for my people; I am old." Continuing, in a "thin high wail," a "feeble voice," BE becomes a Lakota Moses: "Hear me in my sorrow, for I may never call again. O make my people live!"
    –Coda: images of tears, and rain (rebirth?); then: "In a little while the sky was clear again." There is no question that this is JGN's editorial choice, to end on the positive "clearing" of the sky, an almost too-obvious pointing towards hope for a better day. Do you think Black Elk himself ends in such a "clearing" (in the rising sun of the East's "light of understanding")?

RESPONSE #1–Due TUES., 1/31–CHOOSE ONE ("2-4 pp."):
a) "Dear Reader": Write a Preface for Black Elk Speaks from BLACK ELK's point of view, in which the meeting between the two men, the motives of both, etc., are imaginatively reinscribed via the voice of the Native "Other." (Assume that Black Elk has struggled through Neihardt's entire prose text, and thus knows its contents. Also, your tone may be humorous-satirical, tragic-poignant, or–?)
b) "Interpret" (such a loaded, rotten term!) Black Elk's Great Vision, either seriously, from an Anglo sociological/psychological/literary perspective–OR, as a tongue-in-cheek satire, pretending that you are a completely well-intentioned but misguided (Indian-wanna-be?) social scientist or literary scholar. (Importantly here, it should be clear which sub-option you've chosen!) References to other parts of BES may well be appropriate.
c) Despite my general "trickster" attitude evidenced in the two previous prompt choices, I still find Black Elk's Great Vision beautiful, moving, and "true." And I can relate his vision to several intuitive-"mystical" experiences during my own early years, although these were hardly so incredibly mythically coherent, or pregnant with meaning for "my people." Feel free, then, for Response #1, to relate an experience from your own life that seems to possess some parallels to BE's Great Vision, and perhaps his attempts to actualize it.
d) "Final Impressions" of BES–possible considerations: from a literary viewpoint, is the book an aesthetic success (why/how)? In a grander sociological scope, how would you negotiate the two seemingly contradictory conclusions, BE's final thoughts of being a "pitiful old man" of a failure and JGN's (and Deloria's) more positive visions of BE's message "spreading across the world"? And/or finally, who is the real "hero" of the book–Neihardt? Black Elk? (Or Crazy Horse?!)
e) Discuss a poem or poems on our "poetic interlude" handout vis-à-vis BES, going beyond the class discussion.
f) FREE RESPONSE: your own topic-choice focused response on some aspect or related aspects of BES.

* Finally, to quote the syllabus as reminder: "graduate students–and undergraduates who want a high score–should also incorporate at least one non-assigned 'outside' [non-assigned] reading in their responses."

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Created: 6/13/08