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Black Elk, Holy Man of the Oglala
     

Black Elk, Holy Man of the Oglala

by Michael F. Steltenkamp
 
This biography of Black Elk is based on extensive interviews with Lucy Looks Twice, the holy man's last surviving child, as well as others who knew him personally. Michael F. Steltenkamp sheds new light on the figure portrayed in Black Elk Speaks as a victim of Western subjugation, doomed to live out his life as a relic of the past. Instead, Steltenkamp reveals that

Overview

This biography of Black Elk is based on extensive interviews with Lucy Looks Twice, the holy man's last surviving child, as well as others who knew him personally. Michael F. Steltenkamp sheds new light on the figure portrayed in Black Elk Speaks as a victim of Western subjugation, doomed to live out his life as a relic of the past. Instead, Steltenkamp reveals that in 1904 Black Elk was baptized a Catholic and subsequently served as a devoted catechist and missionary to his fellow American Indians until his death in 1950.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In Black Elk Speaks (1932) and The Sacred Pipe (1953), John Neihardt portrayed the Lakota Sioux elder Black Elk as a 19th-century figure, steeped in memories of pre-reservation life. In this scholarly study, Steltenkamp revises these nostalgic portraits of the Sioux spiritual leader as a victim of Western subjugation, showing that he preached Christianity to his people in his later life and used this consciousness to push them to renewal. The author, professor of anthropology at Bay Mills Community College in Mich., bases much of his study on the recollections of Black Elk's daughter, Lucy Looks Twice, whom he met while teaching on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. ``After he became a convert to Catholicism, in 1904 and started working for the missionaries,'' Lucy, who died in 1978, remembers, ``he put all his medicine practice away. He never took it up again.'' Steltenkamp's prose is pedestrian (``Here was an amazing story and a humorous tale being told . . . ''), but his book should spur re-evaluation of views ``concerning the adaptation of Lakota people to changing times.'' Illustrations not seen by PW . (Sept.)
Booknews
In this biography of Black Elk (1863-1950), based on extensive interviews with Lucy Looks Twice, the holy man's last surviving child, and others who knew him personally, Steltenkamp sheds new light on the life of one of the world's best-known religious figures-- particularly the 50 or so years not covered by Black Elk's first- person accounts of his early life in Black Elk Speaks and The Sacred Pipe. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Pat Monaghan
From the title, you might assume this is another version of "Black Elk Speaks", that classic document capturing the words of a Lakota spiritual leader. But expectations of shamanic wizardry are quickly put to rest, for this volume covers not Black Elk's earliest 30 years, of which much has already been written, but his last 60, the years after his conversion to Catholicism. Steltenkamp does not deplore this conversion but presents it as evidence of Black Elk's adaptability in the face of dramatic cultural change. Although unlikely to be as popular as the earlier book, which answered contemporary desires for a spokesperon for a lost American paradise, this is an important contribution to the literature of Native American survival.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780806125411
Publisher:
University of Oklahoma Press
Publication date:
09/28/1993
Pages:
211
Product dimensions:
5.79(w) x 8.82(h) x 1.00(d)

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