Black Elk, Oglala Sioux: 1900-1950

Black Elk's Earth Prayer From Black Elk's Prayer*

*To learn more about Black Elk, Holy Man of the Oglala Sioux, read John Niehardt's "Black Elk Speaks," University of Nebraska Press, 1932



Grandfather, Great Spirit, once more behold me on earth and lean to hear my feeble voice. You lived first, and you are older than all need, older than all prayer. All things belong to you -- the two-legged, the four-legged, the wings of the air, and all green things that live.

You have set the powers of the four quarters of the earth to cross each other. You have made me cross the good road and road of difficulties, and where they cross, the place is holy. Day in, day out, forevermore, you are the life of things.

Hey! Lean to hear my feeble voice.
At the center of the sacred hoop
With tears running, O Great Spirit, my Grandfather,
With running eyes I must say
The tree has never bloomed

Here I stand, and the tree is withered.
Again, I recall the great vision you gave me.
It may be that some little root of the sacred tree still lives.
Nourish it then
That it may leaf
And bloom
And fill with singing birds!
Hear me, that the people may once again
Find the good road
And the shielding tree.

I think I have told you, but if I have not, you must have understood, that a man who has a vision is not able to use the power of it until after he has performed the vision on earth for the people to see... It was even then only after the heyoka ceremony, in which I performed my dog vision, that I had the power to practice as a medicine man, curing sick people; and many I cured with the power that came through me. Of course it was not I who cured. It was the power from the outer world, and the visions and ceremonies had only made me like a hole through which the power could come to the two-leggeds. If I thought that I was doing it myself, the hole would close up and no power could come through. Then everything I could do would be foolish . . .



Revealing this, they walk.
A sacred herb -- revealing it, they walk.
Revealing this, they walk.
The sacred life of bison -- revealing it, they walk.
Revealing this, they walk.
A sacred eagle feather -- revealing it, they walk.
Revealing this, they walk.
The eagle and the bison -- like relatives they walk.



The Six Grandfathers have placed in this world many things, all of which should be happy. Every little thing is sent for something, and in that thing there should be happiness and the power to make happy. Like the grasses showing tender faces to each other, thus we should do, for this was the wish of the Grandfathers of the World.