1. Neihardt uses the expression “inner world” only in this preface. He conceptualized Black Elk’s traditional religious beliefs and practices as an “entire system of knowledge that his vision represented,” knowledge that he kept locked inside himself after accepting the white men’s religion and joining the Catholic Church (The Sixth Grandfather: Black Elk’s Teachings Given to John G. Neihardt, 28).
2. The exploration of “higher values” was a central theme of Neihardt’s life. See his Poetic Values: Their Reality and Our Need of Them.
3. For Neihardt’s account of his first meeting with Black Elk, written soon afterward, see Sixth Grandfather, 27–28.
4. See Hilda Neihardt, Black Elk and Flaming Rainbow: Personal Memories of the Lakota Holy Man and John Neihardt, for an intimate reminiscence of Neihardt’s relationship with Black Elk. For the 1931 interviews, see Sixth Grandfather, 101–296.
5. The expression “outer world” occurs only once in the transcript of Neihardt’s conversations with Black Elk: “spirit (outer) world” (Sixth Grandfather, 220). “Outer world” is Neihardt’s gloss; in the transcript, Black Elk uses “spirit world” twice and “other world” nine times. See Neihardt’s discussion of “outer field,” the fundamental dimension beyond time and space, characterized by images, rather than words (Poetic Values, 111). In his poem, ‘The Ghostly Brother,” based on a childhood dream, Neihardt is beckoned “Through the outer walls of sense” (Collected Poems, 164).
6. Black Elk’s impaired vision, according to oral accounts, resulted from his practice as a medicine man. As a demonstration of his power, he would hide charges of gunpowder in a fire, which allowed him to cause seemingly spontaneous explosions; one time the powder exploded in his face (Sixth Grandfather, 13–14).
7. Neihardt likely did not know that Black Elk was literate in his native language. Not only had he read parts of the Bible in Dakota, but beginning in 1888, when he was traveling with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show in England, he wrote letters in Lakota that were published in church newspapers. See Sixth Grandfather, 8–10, 17–21.
8. For the transcript of a talk given by Benjamin Black Elk in 1969, see H. Neihardt and Utrecht, Black Elk Lives, 3–22.
1. During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, cutting the hair, together with the change to Euro-American style clothing, was symbolic of Lakota men’s acceptance of the white men’s way of life. When boys attended