Black Elk Speaks - scanned from From Touch the Earth

Black ElkBlack Elk (Lakota, 1863-1950), a holy man famous for his book Black Elk Speaks, was one of many Native Americans who shared his cultural heritage. Photo by W. Ben Hunt, Black Hills, South Dakota, ca. 1939. Marquette University Libraries, Bureau of Catholic Indian Missions Records, Negative No. 0860. (

I can remember that winter of the hundred slain [1866] as a man may remember some bad dream he dreamed when he was little, but I can not tell just how much I heard when I was bigger and how much I understood when I was little. It is like some fearful thing in a fog, for it was a time when everything seemed troubled and afraid.

I had never seen a Wasichu [white man] then, and did not know what one looked like; but everyone was saying that the Wasichus were coming and that they were going to take our country and rub us all out and that we should all have to die fighting.
Once we were happy in our own country and we were seldom hungry, for then the two-Ieggeds and the four-Ieggeds lived together like relatives, and there was plenty for them and for us, but the Wasichus were coming and, they have made little islands for us and other little islands for the four-Ieggeds, and always these islands are becoming smaller, for around them surges the gnawing flood of the Wasichu; and it is dirty with lies and greed.
I was ten years old that winter, and that was the first time I ever saw a Wasichu. At first I thought they all looked sick, and I was afraid they might just begin to fight us any time, but I got used to them.
I can remember when the bison were so many that they could not be counted, but more and more Wasichus came to kill them until there were only heaps of bones scattered where they used to be. The Wasichus did not kill them to eat; they killed them for the metal that makes them crazy, and they took only the hides to sell. Sometimes they did not even take the hides, only the tongues; and I have heard that fire-boats came down the Missouri River loaded with dried bison tongues. You can see that the men who did this were crazy. Sometimes they did not even take the tongues; they just killed and killed because they liked to do that. When we hunted bison, we killed only what we needed.

The Native American people lived The Right Way in harmony with nature,
as explained in The book The Way Home or face The Fire

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