Black Elk Speaks


Black Elk Speaks

The Complete Edition

John G. Neihardt
With a new introduction by Philip J. Deloria and annotations by Raymond J. DeMallie

424 pages
10 photographs, 6 illustrations, 31 color plates, 3 maps


March 2014


$21.95 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

March 2014


$21.95 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

March 2014


$21.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

More than one million copies sold
2017 One Book One Nebraska selection

“An American classic.”—Western Historical Quarterly

Black Elk Speaks, the story of the Oglala Lakota visionary and healer Nicholas Black Elk (1863–1950) and his people during momentous twilight years of the nineteenth century, offers readers much more than a precious glimpse of a vanished time. Black Elk’s searing visions of the unity of humanity and Earth, conveyed by John G. Neihardt, have made this book a classic that crosses multiple genres. Whether appreciated as the poignant tale of a Lakota life, as a history of a Native nation, or as an enduring spiritual testament, Black Elk Speaks is unforgettable.

Black Elk met the distinguished poet, writer, and critic John G. Neihardt in 1930 on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota and asked Neihardt to share his story with the world. Neihardt understood and conveyed Black Elk’s experiences in this powerful and inspirational message for all humankind.
This complete edition features a new introduction by historian Philip J. Deloria and annotations of Black Elk’s story by renowned Lakota scholar Raymond J. DeMallie. Three essays by John G. Neihardt provide background on this landmark work along with pieces by Vine Deloria Jr., Raymond J. DeMallie, Alexis Petri, and Lori Utecht. Maps, original illustrations by Standing Bear, and a set of appendixes rounds out the edition. 

Author Bio

John G. Neihardt (1881–1973) is the author of several classics, including A Cycle of the West and Eagle Voice Remembers, both available in Bison Books editions. He was named Nebraska’s first poet laureate and foremost poet of the nation by the National Poetry Center in 1936.


Black Elk Speaks is an extraordinarily human document—and beyond that the record of a profoundly spiritual journey, the pilgrimage of a people toward their historical fulfillment and culmination, toward the accomplishment of a worthy destiny.”—N. Scott Momaday


“An American classic.”—Western Historical Quarterly


“If any great religious classic has emerged in [the twentieth] century or on this continent, it must certainly be judged in the company of Black Elk Speaks.”—from Vine Deloria Jr.’s foreword

Table of Contents

Preface to the 1932 Edition
Preface to the 1961 Edition
Preface to the 1972 Edition
Introduction by Philip J. Deloria
National and International Honors Received by John G. Neihardt
Black Elk Speaks
1. The Offering of the Pipe
2. Early Boyhood
3. The Great Vision
4. The Bison Hunt
5. At the Soldiers’ Town
6. High Horse’s Courting
7. Wasichus in the Hills
8. The Fight with Three Stars
9. The Rubbing Out of Long Hair
10. Walking the Black Road
11. The Killing of Crazy Horse
12. Grandmother’s Land
13. The Compelling Fear
14. The Horse Dance
15. The Dog Vision
16. Heyoka Ceremony
17. The First Cure
18. The Powers of the Bison and the Elk
19. Across the Big Water
20. The Spirit Journey
21. The Messiah
22. Visions of the Other World
23. Bad Trouble Coming
24. The Butchering at Wounded Knee
25. The End of the Dream
26. Author’s Postscript
1. Gallery of Photographs
2. Gallery of the Drawings by Standing Bear, Black Elk’s Friend
3. Transcript of Letter from John G. Neihardt to Nick Black Elk, November 6, 1930
4. Transcript of Letter from John G. Neihardt to Julius House, August 10, 1930
5. “A Great Indian Poet” from Of Making Many Books, June 20, 1931
6. “John G. Neihardt and Nicholas Black Elk” by Raymond J. DeMallie
7. “John G. Neihardt beyond Black Elk” by Alexis N. Petri
8. “Neihardt and Black Elk” by Lori Utecht
9. Comparison of the Transcript and Draft of “Origin of the Peace Pipe”
10. Lakota Words Used in the Text


More than one million copies sold
2017 One Book One Nebraska selection

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