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Although the first six letters of “professor” makes it clear, the central duty of a professor is often misunderstood or forgotten. Professors are those with a distinctive point of view which, as experts in the field, are qualified to advocate for, argue, and teach. In other words, a professor is one who professes. In this blog, we openly express our own positions on issues in ethics, religious studies, and philosophy—our areas of expertise.

Unity of Life
Posted on July 11, 2024 by Joel Heim0 comments 

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Black Elk, also known as Heȟáka Sápa, was a revered leader and shaman of the Oglala Lakota tribe. His life and teachings have profoundly impacted the Native American community and beyond. His legacy was wisdom and struggle, as he was a visionary leader and spiritual guide. The above meme quote from Black Elk captures the relationship of humans to all of creation. We cover Black Elk in our Journey Through Religion course here at Explore Big Ideas.

Black Elk was born in 1863 in present-day South Dakota. He was the son of a shaman and grew up learning his people's traditions and spiritual practices. At nine, Black Elk had a life-changing vision that would shape his future. In this vision, he saw himself riding on horseback with six grandfathers, representing the six sacred directions of the Lakota tradition. This vision set the course for Black Elk's spiritual journey and his role as a visionary leader.

After his father's death, Black Elk took on the role of a shaman and healer within his tribe. He was known for his powerful healing abilities and ability to communicate with the spirit world. His wisdom and guidance were sought after by not only his tribe but also other Native American communities. Black Elk was a respected leader who played a crucial role in maintaining the traditions and culture of his people.

One of the most tragic events in Black Elk's life was the Wounded Knee Massacre in 1890. He was present during the massacre and witnessed the brutal killing of his people. This event deeply affected Black Elk and led him to dedicate his life to preserving the Lakota culture and passing on his knowledge to future generations.

Black Elk's legacy goes beyond his teachings and healing abilities. He was also a powerful advocate for Native American rights and worked towards preserving their land and way of life. His book with John G. Neihardt, Black Elk Speaks, published in 1932, became a bestseller and remains significant in Native American literature. His vision and leadership continue to inspire and guide Native American communities.

Black Elk Speaks

In conclusion, Black Elk was a visionary leader, medicine man, and spiritual guide whose legacy continues. His teachings and wisdom have profoundly impacted the Native American community and the world. As we honor his memory, let us also remember the importance of preserving and respecting indigenous cultures and their traditions. Black Elk's life serves as a reminder of the resilience and strength of the Native American people.

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