AUGUST 19, 1950


Born December 1, 1863, on the Little Powder River in Wyoming, he was the son of the elder Black Elk and White Cow Sees Woman.  At age 12, he killed a soldier at the Little Big Horn in June 1876.  In 1877, his family fled with Sitting Bull into Canada but returned and were interned on the Pine Ridge Reservation after Sitting Bull’s surrender.  Black Elk later joined Sitting Bull in Buffalo Bill Cody‘s Wild West show, touring the U.S. and Europe, but returned to Pine Ridge in 1889 and joined the Ghost Dance movement.  In December 1890, he was wounded attacking soldiers at the Wounded Knee massacre.  A traditional spiritual leader since his late teens, on December 6, 1904, Black Elk was baptized and took the name Nicholas Black Elk, yet continued to serve as a traditional spiritual leader.  In 1932, he told his life story to John Neihardt, resulting in Black Elk Speaks.  In 1947, Joseph E. Brown recorded his memories of Sioux ceremonies in The Sacred Pipe.  He died at Pine Ridge.

Source: “Black Elk,” United States History.  Retrieved 7/10/2019,
Photo:  Author unknown.  Date: Circa 1910.  Nicholas Black Elk with daughter, Lucy Black Elk, and second wife, Anna Brings White.  Public Domain in U.S.:  Pre 1/1/1925.  Public Domain elsewhere where copyright term is author’s life plus 70 years or less.

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