Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version



Published in Great Plains Quarterly 6:1 (Winter 1986). Copyright © 1986 Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


When John Neihardt finished Black Elk Speaks, he put on deposit in the University of Missouri library the rough English expansion of the shorthand from which he worked and the shorthand transcript of Ben Black Elk's translation of his father's life story. Raymond DeMallie has now edited this material to bring us as close as we are likely to get to what Black Elk actually did speak. DeMallie has done a first rate job. The outcome is a book useful for what it contributes to our understanding of Sioux iconography, Siouan perceptions of negotiations with the United States, Black Elk's mingled pipe religion and Catholic convictions, and Neihardt's purposes.