Alas, too many who read it don't see it as the biography off a man or as the way to get insight into Lakota culture: Too often they are like one of my son's literature teachers in a Catholic high school, who promoted the book to show how lousy Catholics were in contrast to the wonderfulness of new age ideas .
My son was startled when I told him that many of our Indian patients took vision quests, and performed ceremonies like described in the book, or even had "out of body" experiences. But most of them tried to follow the road of the Creator, and that many, including Black Elk, saw being Christian as a way to get a deeper understanding of the Creator.
Nicholas demonstrated a powerful gift for teaching, able to grasp complexities of theology and explain them to people on the reservation in a way that honored and incorporated, rather than eradicating and replacing, their cultural signs and symbols. With humility nearly impossible to grasp, Nicholas Black Elk even allowed the Holy Spirit to show him a new understanding of his great vision, the thing that had been a central truth of his life since he was nine.Nicholas Black Elk, daughter Lucy Black Elk and wife Anna Brings White, photographed in their home in Manderson, South Dakota, ca 1910God is not a cultural oppressor, seeking to wipe out all human diversity and replacing it with a single, homogeneous thing, and the life of Nicholas Black Elk exemplifies this- an example of how the truth of Christianity is found in, and resonates with, every human life, and every human culture.