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Black Elk Lives: Conversations with the Black Elk Family

Great-grandson of visionary Lakota leader to speak at Grand Rapids Main Public Library
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"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 saw that the sacred hoop of my people was one of 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."

Lakota medicine man Nicholas Black Elk reported that legendary vision in "Black Elk Speaks," the bestselling book of all time about a Native American. Considered a modern spiritual classic, John G. Niehardt's biography of the renowned Native elder inspired generations of readers to explore indigenous history, culture, and spirituality through the entry point of Black Elk's life story, which spanned the Battles of Little Big Horn and Wounded Knee to post-war America. Seminal Lakota Sioux historian and author Vine Deloria Jr. wrote of the narrative, "If any great religious classic has emerged in this century or on this continent, it must certainly be judged in the company of Black Elk Speaks … [T]he book has become a North American bible of all tribes … it speaks to us with simple and compelling language about an aspect of human experience and encourages us to emphasize the best that dwells within us…”

Black Elk's great-grandson Aaron DeSersa, one of the authors of the book "Black Elk Lives: Conversations with the Black Elk Family," will discuss his new book based on conversations with Nicholas Black Elk's descendants in Ryerson Auditorium at Grand Rapids Public Library Main Branch, 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 10. The GRPL says the talk will "offer an intimate look at life on the Pine Ridge reservation, and fresh perspectives on the religious, economic, social and political opportunities and challenges facing the Lakota people today." Co-sponsored by Grand Valley State University, the talk is free and open to the public. 



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