Black Elk Speaks

by

John G. Neihardt

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Black Elk’s father is also named Black Elk; he is a medicine man and a cousin to Crazy Horse. Black Elk’s father was injured in the Fetterman Fight in 1866. Although Black Elk’s father isn’t an especially developed character, Black Elk shows how instrumental his father’s instruction is to his development as a hunter and warrior. Many of Black Elk’s interactions with his father occur when they are hunting together. Black Elk’s father is loyal to his family; for example, when his nephew, Black Wasichu, is killed in the Battle of Little Bighorn, he and Black Wasichu’s father retaliate by butchering a Wasichu (white) soldier. Like Black Elk, Black Elk’s father believes it is his people’s responsibility to defend their land. For this reason, he reveres Crazy Horse’s bravery and condemns Red Cloud, finding Red Cloud’s willingness to sell the Black Hills to the Wasichus “cheap.”

Black Elk’s father Quotes in Black Elk Speaks

The Black Elk Speaks quotes below are all either spoken by Black Elk’s father or refer to Black Elk’s father. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Nature Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the University of Nebraska Press edition of Black Elk Speaks published in 2014.
Chapter 2 Quotes

Sometimes dreams are wiser than waking.

Related Characters: Black Elk (speaker), Black Elk’s father, Drinks Water
Page Number: 7
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 3 Quotes

Then I was sitting up; and I was sad because my mother and my father didn’t seem to know I had been so far away.

Page Number: 29
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 4 Quotes

The next morning all the swelling had left my face and legs and arms, and I felt well as ever; but everything around me seemed strange and as though it were far away. I remember that for twelve days after that I wanted to be alone, and it seemed I did not belong to my people. They were almost like strangers. I would be out alone away from the village and the other boys, and I would look around to the four quarters, thinking of my vision and wishing I could get back there again. I would go home to eat, but I could not make myself eat much; and my father and mother thought that I was sick yet; but I was not. I was only homesick for the place where I had been.

Page Number: 31
Explanation and Analysis:
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Black Elk’s father Character Timeline in Black Elk Speaks

The timeline below shows where the character Black Elk’s father appears in Black Elk Speaks. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2: Early Boyhood
Nature Theme Icon
The Loss of Culture and Community  Theme Icon
...be named Black Elk. He comes from a family of medicine men, and Black Elk’s father and Crazy Horse’s father were cousins. His mother’s name is White Cow Sees. Her father’s... (full context)
Nature Theme Icon
The Loss of Culture and Community  Theme Icon
...and destroyed and stole the land out of greed. Black Elk tells a story his father told him about Drinks Water, a Lakota holy man, who had a premonition of the... (full context)
The Loss of Culture and Community  Theme Icon
...shot full of arrows. He notes that this is the battle in which Black Elk’s father injured his leg. (full context)
Chapter 5: At the Soldiers’ Town
Nature Theme Icon
The Loss of Culture and Community  Theme Icon
Alienation Theme Icon
Unrealized Dreams  Theme Icon
...vision. When they pass by Buffalo Gap near the Hills, Black Elk and Black Elk’s father go hunting. When they get to the top of a hill, Black Elk’s father tells... (full context)
Nature Theme Icon
...Elk feels sorry as they butcher and eat the animals, so he asks Black Elk’s father if they should offer one of them to the earth, and they do so. This... (full context)
Chapter 7: Wasichus in the Hills
Nature Theme Icon
The Loss of Culture and Community  Theme Icon
Unrealized Dreams  Theme Icon
...Shyela, and Blue Cloud tribes to discuss the gold-digging. The talk is unsuccessful: Black Elk’s father tells him that the Grandfather at Washington wants to lease the Hills to the Wasichu... (full context)
Unrealized Dreams  Theme Icon
...he believes that the “white wing of the wind” given to him by the second Grandfather gave him the power to win. (full context)
Chapter 8: The Fight with Three Stars
The Loss of Culture and Community  Theme Icon
...stay in the Soldiers’ Town until the  Moon When the Ponies Shed (May). Black Elk’s father tells them they will go back to Crazy Horse and fight with him to keep... (full context)
Chapter 9: The Rubbing Out of Long Hair
Nature Theme Icon
The Loss of Culture and Community  Theme Icon
Unrealized Dreams  Theme Icon
...that the Wasichus are coming. Everyone gets their horses and prepares to fight. Black Elk’s father tells Black Elk to bring a gun to his brother, who went off with some... (full context)
The Transformative Power of Ceremony  Theme Icon
The Loss of Culture and Community  Theme Icon
...has been shot. Some people try to give the injured Black Wasichu medicine. Black Wasichu’s father and Black Elk’s father are so upset that they butcher a Wasichu soldier. The soldier... (full context)
Chapter 10: Walking the Black Road
The Loss of Culture and Community  Theme Icon
Black Elk’s people stay near the Bighorn Mountains for about a month. Black Elk’s father tells him that their fighting was for nothing, because the Hang-Around-the-Fort people are still planning... (full context)
Nature Theme Icon
The Loss of Culture and Community  Theme Icon
...eat—but the soldiers watch them all the time, and Black Elk’s mother and Black Elk’s father wish they’d gone with Sitting Bull and Gall to Grandmother’s Land. (full context)
Chapter 11: The Killing of Crazy Horse
The Loss of Culture and Community  Theme Icon
...some soldiers take Crazy Horse to the Soldiers’ Town nearby. Black Elk and  Black Elk’s father follow to see what’s going on. When they arrive, Crazy Horse is surrounded by soldiers... (full context)
Nature Theme Icon
The Loss of Culture and Community  Theme Icon
Black Elk and Black Elk’s father return to camp. Everyone mourns the loss of Crazy Horse, who was brave and good... (full context)
Chapter 12: Grandmother’s Land
The Loss of Culture and Community  Theme Icon
Unrealized Dreams  Theme Icon
...and game is hard to find. On a particularly difficult hunting trip with Black Elk’s father, Black Elk hears a coyote speaking to him, telling him there are bison on a... (full context)
The Loss of Culture and Community  Theme Icon
Unrealized Dreams  Theme Icon
Black Elk and Black Elk’s father head home. Black Elk finds that five of their horses have frozen to death in... (full context)
Chapter 21: The Messiah
The Loss of Culture and Community  Theme Icon
Unrealized Dreams  Theme Icon
...winter is a harsh one. Many people die from “the bad sickness,” including Black Elk’s father. Black Elk’s brother and sister died while he was overseas, and now it’s only his... (full context)
The Transformative Power of Ceremony  Theme Icon
The Loss of Culture and Community  Theme Icon
Unrealized Dreams  Theme Icon
Although Black Elk doesn’t yet fully believe in Wovoka’s vision, Black Elk’s father’s death inspires him to think about it more deeply. He rides to Wounded Knee to... (full context)
Chapter 22: Visions of the Other World
The Transformative Power of Ceremony  Theme Icon
The Loss of Culture and Community  Theme Icon
Unrealized Dreams  Theme Icon
...and tell him that he has work to do before he can see Black Elk’s father. Black Elk knows that the men must want him to return to his people bearing... (full context)
The Transformative Power of Ceremony  Theme Icon
The Loss of Culture and Community  Theme Icon
Unrealized Dreams  Theme Icon
...Elk thinks about his vision and realizes that the six villages must represent the Six Grandfathers from his initial vision. He wonders if Wanekia might be the red man from this... (full context)