Black Elk Speaks: The Complete Edition

By John G. Neihardt | Go to book overview

26 AUTHOR’S POSTSCRIPT

After the conclusion of the narrative, Black Elk and our party were sitting at the north edge of Cuny Table, looking off across the Badlands (“the beauty and the strangeness of the earth,” as the old man expressed it).1 Pointing at Harney Peak that loomed black above the far sky-rim, Black Elk said: “There, when I was young, the spirits took me in my vision to the center of the earth and showed me all the good things in the sacred hoop of the world. I wish I could stand up there in the flesh before I die, for there is something I want to say to the Six Grandfathers.”2

So the trip to Harney Peak was arranged, and a few days later we were there. On the way up to the summit, Black Elk remarked to his son, Ben: “Something should happen to-day. If I have any power left, the thunder beings of the west should hear me when I send a voice, and there should be at least a little thunder and a little rain.” What happened is, of course, related to Wasichu readers as being merely a more or less striking coincidence. It was a bright and cloudless day, and after we had reached the summit the sky was perfectly clear. It was a season of drouth, one of the worst in the memory of the old men. The sky remained clear until about the conclusion of the ceremony.

“Right over there,” said Black Elk, indicating a point of rock, “is where I stood in my vision, but the hoop of the world about me was different, for what I saw was in the spirit.”

Having dressed and painted himself as he was in his great vision, he faced the west, holding the sacred pipe before him in his right hand.3

-170-

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