Black Elk Speaks

by

John G. Neihardt

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Wovoka (“The Wanekia”) Character Analysis

Wovoka is a Paiute Indian who pioneers the Ghost Dance movement. Wovoka is called “Jack Wilson” by the Wasichus, and American Indians believe that he is a Wanekia, or messiah. Wovoka’s vision suggests that the apocalypse is approaching and that, by performing the Ghost Dance, American Indians will be able to transport themselves to a better world in which their culture is restored and they are reunited with their deceased relatives.

Wovoka (“The Wanekia”) Quotes in Black Elk Speaks

The Black Elk Speaks quotes below are all either spoken by Wovoka (“The Wanekia”) or refer to Wovoka (“The Wanekia”). 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 22 Quotes

I was in the air, with outstretched arms, and floating fast. There was a fearful dark river that I had to go over, and I was afraid. It rushed and roared and was full of angry foam. Then I looked down and saw many men and women who were trying to cross the dark and fearful river, but they could not. Weeping, they looked up to me and cried: “Help us!” But I could not stop gliding, for it was as though a great wind were under me.

Related Characters: Black Elk (speaker), Wovoka (“The Wanekia”)
Page Number: 154
Explanation and Analysis:
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Wovoka (“The Wanekia”) Character Timeline in Black Elk Speaks

The timeline below shows where the character Wovoka (“The Wanekia”) appears in Black Elk Speaks. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 21: The Messiah
Nature Theme Icon
The Loss of Culture and Community  Theme Icon
Unrealized Dreams  Theme Icon
...saw the Paiute man, whom the Wasichus call Jack Wilson but whose real name is Wovoka. The Indians believe that Wovoka is a Wanekia, or messiah. Wovoka told the men that... (full context)
The Transformative Power of Ceremony  Theme Icon
The Loss of Culture and Community  Theme Icon
Unrealized Dreams  Theme Icon
Wovoka gave Good Thunder sacred red paint and two eagle feathers. He told them that they... (full context)
The Transformative Power of Ceremony  Theme Icon
The Loss of Culture and Community  Theme Icon
Unrealized Dreams  Theme Icon
That winter, more people journey out west to hear more about Wovoka. There is another meeting in 1890, and people insist that the sacred man is the... (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... (full context)
Chapter 22: Visions of the Other World
The Transformative Power of Ceremony  Theme Icon
...saw in his vision. Next, he makes a sacred stick, which he paints with the Wanekia’s paint. Because of his vision the day before, Black Elk is asked to lead the... (full context)
The Transformative Power of Ceremony  Theme Icon
The Loss of Culture and Community  Theme Icon
Unrealized Dreams  Theme Icon
...the six villages must represent the Six Grandfathers from his initial vision. He wonders if Wanekia might be the red man from this same vision. (full context)
Chapter 23: Bad Trouble Coming
The Transformative Power of Ceremony  Theme Icon
The Loss of Culture and Community  Theme Icon
...from participating in Ghost Dances. When Good Thunder and Kicking Bear return from seeing the Wanekia, for example, the Wasichus at Pine Ridge imprison them. When people dance later that summer... (full context)
The Transformative Power of Ceremony  Theme Icon
The Loss of Culture and Community  Theme Icon
Unrealized Dreams  Theme Icon
...flee to the Brule camp. Black Elk tells the Brules about his visions and the Wanekia. He urges them fight for their way of life and be guided by their dead... (full context)