Lakota Creational Myth
In the beginning, prior to the creation of the Earth, the gods resided in an undifferentiated celestial domain and humans lived in an indescribably subterranean world devoid of culture.
Chief among the gods were Takushkanshkan (“something that moves”), the Sun, who is married to the Moon, with whom he has one daughter, Wohpe (“falling star”); Old Man and Old Woman, whose daughter Ite (“face”) is married to Wind, with whom she has four sons, the Four Winds.
Among numerous other spirits, the most important is Inktomi (“spider”), the devious trickster. Inktomi conspires with Old Man and Old Woman to increase their daughter’s status by arranging an affair
between the Sun and Ite.
The discovery of the affair by the Sun’s wife leads to a number of punishments by Takuskanskan, who gives the Moon her own domain, and by separating her from the Sun initiates the creation of time.
Old Man, Old Woman, and Ite are sent to Earth, but Ite is separated from the Wind, her husband, who, along with the Four Winds and a fifth wind presumed to be the child of the adulterous affair, establishes space.
The daughter of the Sun and the Moon, Wohpe, also falls to earth and later resides with the South Wind, the paragon of Lakota maleness, and the two adopt the fifth wind, called Wamniomni (“whirlwind”).
Black Elk Quotes
Black Elk Speaks
Black Elk Speaks 1
Black Elk Speaks 2
Black Elk Speaks Chapter 1
Black Elk Speaks Chapter 10
Black Elk Speaks Chapter 24
Black Elk Speaks Chapter 25
Hehaka Sapa was a famous wichasa wakhan and heyoka
of the Oglala Lakota who lived in the present-day United States, primarily South Dakota.
He was a second cousin of the war chief Crazy Horse.
“Sometimes dreams are wiser than waking.”
“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,
the visions and the 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.”
“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
You have said that I should make the tree to bloom.
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 fill with singing birds!
Hear me, that the people may once again
Find the good road
And the shielding tree.
Then I was standing on the highest mountain of them all, and round about beneath me was the whole hoop of the world. And while I stood there I saw more than I can tell and I understood more than I saw; for I was seeing in a sacred manner the shapes of all things in the spirit, and the shape of all shapes as they must live together like one being.
And I say the sacred hoop of my people was one of the many hoops that made one circle, wide as daylight and as starlight, and in the center grew one mighty flowering tree to shelter all the children of one mother and one father. And I saw that it was holy…
But anywhere is the center of the world.
A long time ago my father told me what his father had told him, that there was once a Lakota holy man, called “Drinks Water”, who dreamed what was to be… He dreamed that the four-leggeds were going back to the Earth, and that a strange race would weave a web all around the Lakotas. He said, “You shall live in square gray houses, in a barren land…” Sometimes dreams are wiser than waking. (1932)
Black Elk : A Man with a Vision/Carol Greene. Chicago: Children’s Press, 1990.
Neihardt, John G.; Black Elk Speaks; 1989; the life story of a beloved Holy Man of the Oglala Sioux.
Turtle, Eagle Walking, story and paintings; Keepers of the Fire, Journey to the Tree of Life; 1987; based on Black Elks Vision.
Black Elk’s World offers the full text of the twenty-first century edition of “Black Elk Speaks” (as told through John G. Neihardt by Nicholas Black Elk). Links within the text allow the reader to access biographies, historic and contemporary photographs, and maps of geographical features, towns, and battle sites. The glossary allows readers to view a current transcription and translation of each Lakota word within the text. Available in HTML or PDF version.
Black Elk Speaks
Black Elk: Holy Man of the Oglala
Black Elk’s Story
“Hopefully, we can all quickly begin the task of mending The Sacred Hoop of Life in Black Elk’s vision and begin working together to save the Earth Mother, ourselves and all things. Let us stop killing each other and the world around us…. Instead, let us become Spiritual warriors fighting our greatest enemy – ourselves….”
Human Rights Advocacy Coalition
Lakhota Language Documents
Lakhota Art & Music
Republic of Lakotah
Russell Means Freedom
Total Immersion School
Wowapi Oti Kin
( Information Home Page)
Lakota Nation Cecedes
Lakota Wedding Song
Lakota Woman’s Power Song
The Lakota Way
Through Lakota Eyes