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Extra resources for CliffsNotes Neihardt's Black Elk Speaks
Black Elk describes the great celebration after the successful hunt and the games the young boys played, including endurance trials, as part of the festivities. Critical Commentaries: Chapter 4 33 Commentary As Black Elk grows older, the meaning of his vision becomes clearer to him, but he felt alienated as a boy because of his unique experience of the vision. Black Elk frequently feels as if he is pulled back into the world of his vision when he sees or feels something that reminds him of the vision—in this case the birds his father is hunting.
Crazy Horse can easily re-enter the spirit world and his behavior is sometimes odd. He doesn’t have much to do with other people except children. He has been friendly to Black Elk, calling him into his tepee. Wounded only twice, he is a powerful warrior. Black Elk states that if the whites had not murdered Crazy Horse, the Indians would still own the Black Hills. The whites did not kill Crazy Horse in battle, but lied to entrap him. When Black Elk’s people meet up with Crazy Horse, they camp some distance away and build a corral to guard their ponies from the Crow Indians.
The sacred hoop of his nation that he refers to is the integrated and united community of his people, imagined as within a circle. The base of the tepee is circular, and an encampment of tepees was usually arranged in a circle. Black Elk’s vision of the horses in the four different directions has visual similarities to a mandala, a circular design with geometric components originally used in Hinduism and Buddhism to express spiritual wholeness. The cup that contains the sky, the sacred pipe, the four-rayed herb, and the flowering stick are sacred objects that will recur in Black Elk’s later visions.