The True Peace

Hello! This week I simply want to share with you my favorite wisdom drop from Black Elk.

Black Elk is the most famous Lakota wichasa wakan (holy man or medicine man) of the twentieth century. He came of age before the reservation era, when the Sioux tribes were strong, prosperous, and free. Black Elk was a second cousin to the great war leader Crazy Horse and fought with him at the Battle of Little Bighorn. After “the West was won” on the northern plains, he lived out the remainder of his life in a small wooden home just north of Wounded Knee, near where I stay when I visit the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. He referred to that home as “the square house they made me live in,”and I have visited it many times. It is abandoned and falling back into the earth from whence it came.  

Black Elk Quote

As a small boy Black Elk was escorted by the forty-eight horses of the four directions on a vision to meet the Seven Grandfathers of the Great Spirit. There he “saw in a holy manner” that there was but one single human tribe. Black Elk passed away—or “crossed over,” as the Sioux would say—“to the world that lives beside this one” in August of 1950, but his voice still resonates with many.

The True Peace

The first peace, which is most important, is that which comes within the souls of people when they realize their relationship, their oneness, with the Universe and all its powers, and when they realize that at the center of the Universe dwells Wakan Tanka (the Great Spirit), and that this center is really everywhere—it is within each of us.

This is the real peace, and the others are but a reflection of this.

The second peace is that which is made between two individuals, and the third is that which is made between two nations.

But above all, you should understand that there can never be peace between nations until there is known that true peace, which, as I have often said, is within the souls of men.

Black Elk

Tipi on the plains
Before the reservation era, Black Elk would have lived in a round home, not a square one.