Black Elk: The World Works In Circles

You have noticed that everything an Indian does in a circle, and that is because the Power of the World always works in circles, and everything and everything tries to be round.

In the old days all our power came to us from the sacred hoop of the nation and so long as the hoop was unbroken the people flourished. The flowering tree was the living center of the hoop, and the circle of the four quarters nourished it. The east gave peace and light, the south gave warmth, the west gave rain and the north with its cold and mighty wind gave strength and endurance. This knowledge came to us from the outer world with our religion.

Everything the power of the world does is done in a circle. The sky is round and I have heard that the earth is round like a ball and so are all the stars. The wind, in its greatest power, whirls. Birds make their nests in circles, for theirs is the same religion as ours. The sun comes forth and goes down again in a circle. The moon does the same and both are round. Even the seasons form a great circle in their changing and always come back again to where they were.

The life of a man is a circle from childhood to childhood, and so it is in everything where power moves. Our teepees were round like the nests of birds, and these were always set in a circle, the nation's hoop, a nest of many nests, where the Great Spirit meant for us to hatch our children.

~Black Elk

LostLeila LostLeila
31-35, F
8 Responses Jul 7, 2008

Black Elk Speaks has always been one of my favorites.

Yes, a great shame indeed, Leila.<br />
I live in Southern Alberta (Canada) and there is much history here.. one of my favorite places is "Writing On Stone" provincial park.. where there are petroglyph carvings done by the Native Peoples.. check this out:<br />
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There's a gorgeous campground there, and miles of hiking thru the HooDoos... the trails are like nature designed by Walt Disney, lol. A real treasure of a find.

Great movie, yes. I also liked "Emerald Forest" and "Little Big Man." That's wonderful, that you live near a Native American community. It is a shame what has happened to the cultures of many tribes.

I had the chance to work with some Native children last year, and visit their Reservation.. it was a great experience. They just opened a museum of Native culture (about an hours drive away from where I live, above the site of the signing of a major treaty) that I would love to go see.. I think we will try to do that this summer, sometime. Remember the movie "Dances With Wolves"? An incredible movie.. I might have to rent it and watch it again, lol.

You are most welcome, Dee. Black Elk's book is just incredible, it totally transformed how i thought about Native Americans, and my relationship to the Natural world...

No I haven't ... I need to start making a list of book recommendations, lol. Thanks, Leila!

Have you read the book, Black Elk Speaks? It's one of my favorites.

I feel the power of the circle when reading your words.. great story. It reminds me of the medicine wheels.. we have many of them here in western Canada, I have heard, but I've never gone to see one.. I think I'll have to do that...