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Black Elk Religious Worldview

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Black Elk Religious Worldview

In his youth, Black Elk was an Oglala, Lakota medicine man. Later in his life, he was a practicing Catholic. When Black Elk was 67, he collaborated with John Neihardt to write his biography. His biography captures the essence of Lakota life during the pre reservation and the Native American Sioux Spirituality that was the foundation of Lakota life. Black Elks quote "the Circle of life" is a description of how the circle or sacred hoop held significant power and protection for the Lakota people. The following paragraphs well show how Black Elks Primal religious worldview and later his Christian worldview have guided him through his life. The unity of the Lakota people was evident in their use of circle formation. The circle is a symbolic of unity and social solidarity, as in the formation of their teepees and Lakota camp. The camp circle or sacred hoop is a place where everything is safe, knowledgeable, and Oglala. Outside the circle, it is a world filled with enemies, evil spirits and the white man. Just as then, as it is today, communities have the same unity and social solidarity as the Lakota people did. They feel safe knowing the people of their community, but some still fear the outside boundaries. The traditional Oglala Sioux way of life conceived mutuality between man and nature. Honor for the circle of seasons and all living things life was necessary in order to obtain food, clothing, and shelter. When the Indians lived in partnership with nature, those necessities were available to them in such abundance that their sheer existence seemed evidence of the concern of the Great Spirit, which had taken guardianship of them for so long. Along these lines, in the Lakota, religion is Wakan Tanka or Grandfather referred to as mother or father. The four supreme gods of the Lakota created both thunderstorms and wind. Inyan is the god of mountains, rocks, and hills, he created thunderstorms, and his messenger is Wakinyan. Skan is the source of all power and all spirit, and he created wind. Wakinyan created the stars to provide Tate with light during the night. Like in Christianity, the one true God is triune. He is the father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Late eighteen hundred the Ghost Dance movement spread across the western part of the United States as Native American tribes grasped at a last hope of a better world. The Ghost Dance was nativistic, and its doctrine united many tribes that had previously been hostile or indifferent to one another in a common rite that expressed deep yearning for traditional life of the ways of the Indian. The central doctrine of the Ghost Dance was "that time will come when the whole Indian race, living and dead, will reunite upon a regenerated earth, to live a life of happiness, forever free from death, disease, and misery" (Holler, 1984, p. 32). The rituals and tradition of the Indians displayed their beliefs in spirits an afterlife. Indians believed that there would be a righteous way of life for them after they die. The primal religion of the Oglala Sioux is not much different from other modern religion as Buddhism, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism and Christianity all believe in an afterlife and higher being. After the incident at Wounded Knee, the Ghost Dance movement died along with hope and spirit of



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