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Additional resources for CliffsNotes Neihardt's Black Elk Speaks
It was common among many Indian tribes, including the Sioux, to induce a vision by means of fasting and sweating, at the time of initiation into adulthood. What Black Elk Critical Commentaries: Chapter 3 29 experiences here is different. The vision came to him, rather than being induced, indicating that he is singled out to receive something extraordinary. It is important that other special individuals in the band, holy men and medicine men, recognize the unique experience of Black Elk and support him in claiming the tribal role that the vision directs him to.
Thus, the sun dance is partly a test of physical endurance, but more importantly it symbolizes the dancers’ desire to break the bonds of flesh in order to access the spirit. Critical Commentaries: Chapter 8 45 Some of the symbology of the sun dance is similar to that of Black Elk’s earlier vision (see Chapter 3) because both rely on traditional Sioux imagery. The flowering tree of the sun dance creates a representation of the original state of the innocence and prosperity of all things and is similar to the flowering stick of Black Elk’s vision.
They move camp. The guard paints his face black to indicate that he was ready to kill the enemy. They meet one of Red Cloud’s people who says that the Crow Indians killed all in his band except him. Critical Commentaries: Chapter 7 41 During that winter, white runners come and tell Black Elk’s people that they must come back to Fort Robinson or there will be serious trouble, but they do not return because it is too cold to move and they are on their own land anyway. During a thaw in February, Black Elk’s people start for Fort Robinson.