Black Elk Facts

Black Elk Facts
Black Elk was an important American Indian in the western states and territories during the late nineteenth century. As a member of Oglala Lakota tribe, Black Elk spent most of his life in what are now the states of Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Nebraska. He lived quite an interesting life, he was a warrior and mystic, and traveled around the country and even Europe in Buffalo Bill's Wild West show. Black Elk was born on December 1, 1863 on the banks of the Little Powder River in what is today Wyoming. He had many spiritual visions as a child, which led him to be a warrior and later an activist for his people.
Interesting Black Elk Facts:
The Lakota Indians are sometimes referred to as "Sioux." Sioux is a French derived word that refers to the Nakota and Dakota tribes as was as the Lakota. All three tribes are culturally related and speak similar languages.
Chief Crazy Horse was Black Elk's second cousin and very influential on his early life.
Black Elk claimed to have had his first vision at the age of nine. The medicine men of his village so impressed with what he claimed to have seen that he was made a medicine man while in his teens.
Black Elk participated in the Battle of Little Bighorn (June 25-26, 1876) in eastern Montana. In later interviews, Black Elk claimed to have been proud of his participation, but it forced him to temporarily leave the United States.
After many of the Lakota were given amnesty by the Unite States government, Black Elk returned to live on the newly formed Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota in 1881.
Black Elk became world famous when he toured with Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show from 1886-1889. He even did a show in Manchester, England.
After returning to the United States in 1889, Black Elk became involved in the Ghost Dance movement. Indians in the Ghost Dance movement believed that by doing a specific dance they would gain the favor of their spirits, thereby driving the white man from what were once their lands.
Although Black Elk focused on being a medicine man and healer after moving to the Pine Ridge Reservation, he became involved in fighting American soldiers during the Wounded Knee Massacre in 1890. The American soldiers were attempting to disarm the Indians when shooting began, killing hundreds of the Lakota, including 200 women and children.
Black Elk had six children with two different women.
Black Elk converted to Roman Catholicism in 1904.
Black Elk knew no English, but through interpreters writer John Neihardt was able to write the biography Black Elk Speaks in 1932. The book is a source not only of late nineteenth century Sioux history, but also of different aspects of Sioux and American Indian religion.
Black Elk died on August 19, 1950 at the age of eighty-six in in Pine Ridge, South Dakota. He grave is in the Catholic cemetery in Manderson, South Dakota.

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