posted on Jul, 29 2012 @ 02:05 AM
When Black Elk was nine years old, he had yet to see his first Wasichu, or white man. There were still vast herds of buffalo, and the Indian way of
life, Black Elk believed, would last forever. That year, 1872, he had a vision in which he traveled four ascents with his people, which he understood
to be the four generations he would know.
At the first ascent, the people camped in a circle. At the center of the circle stood the holy tree. But when they camped at the second ascent Black
Elk saw the leaves falling from the sacred tree.
At the camp of the third ascent he saw the Black Road of conflict before them. He saw, too, that the nation's hoop was broken, the sacred tree was
dying and all its birds were gone. There he saw that "all of the animals and fowls that were the people ran here and there, for each one seemed to
have his own little vision that he followed and his own rules; and all over the universe I could hear the winds at war like wild beasts fighting... It
was dark and terrible about me, for all the winds of the world were fighting. It was like rapid gunfire and like whirling smoke, and like women and
children wailing and like horses screaming all over the world." The third ascent was the time of the generation living in the 1850's.
At the fourth ascent a Voice said "Behold this day, for it is yours to make. Now you shall stand upon the center of the earth to see..." Then Black
Elk stood on the highest mountain of them all, "and round about beneath me was the whole hoop of the world. And while I stood there I saw more than I
can tell and I understood more than I saw; for I was seeing in a sacred manner the shapes of all things in the spirit, and the shape of all shapes as
they must live together like one being. And I saw that the sacred hoop of my people was one of many hoops that made one circle, wide as daylight and
as starlight, and in the center grew one mighty flowering tree to shelter all the children of one mother and one father. And I saw that it was
Black Elk's vision of the fourth ascent was one of hope and brotherhood. Because that world did not come to pass, Black Elk lived to be a
disappointed man believing that, in some way, he had failed his vision. "You see me now a pitiful old man who has done nothing, for the nation's
hoop is broken and scattered. There is no center any longer, and the sacred tree is dead."
Shortly before his death in 1950, Black Elk offered this comment: "I have been told by the white men, or at least by those who are Christian, that
God sent to men His son, who would restore order and peace upon the earth; and we have been told that Jesus the Christ was crucified, but that he
shall come again at the Last Judgement, the end of this world cycle. This I understand and know that it is true, but the white men should know that
for the red people too, it was the will of Wakan-Tanka, the Great Spirit, that an animal turn itself into a two-legged person in order to bring the
most holy pipe to His people, and we too were taught that this White Buffalo Cow Woman who brought our sacred pipe will appear again at the end of
this world, a coming which we Indians know is now not very far off."
Perhaps, the words Black Elk heard, saying, "Behold this day, for it is yours to make. Now you shall stand upon the center of the earth to see..."
is a message to us all. For this day is ours to make, and the center of the earth, Black Elk tells us, is everywhere. All we need to do is see the
world in a sacred manner, and the holy tree will live again.