From Black Elk Speaks: III. The Great Vision
By John G. Neihardt
The story is one of a great holy man, Black Elk. At a young age, he falls ill, and is near death when he has a vision involving his ancestors (Grandfathers). He becomes a healer of, not only the individual, but of a whole group. His powers, given to him by his Grandfathers, allowed him to heal those who were sick, give social order and public policies for tribes, nations, people, etc. However, this story is about more than just Black Elk, the holy man; it is also the story of people and nations, especially the Lakota-Dakota-Nakota Sioux nations.
Black Elk was called to holiness through his vision from the "other world," and this gave him great powers to heal sick and suffering people and nations. His vision is described in a most beautiful and picturesque manner.
Black Elk's vision includes many different varieties of horses which is interesting because they are a representative of being free, beautiful, wild creatures - something to be admired from afar. There were four sets of horses defined most particularly by their color and direction: 12 black horses (West), 12 white horses (North), 12 sorrel horses (East), and 12 buckskin horses (South). I feel as though the color of horses could also be a racial representation because there are white and black horses - a representation of two commonly known races, then sorrel (a brownish, yellowish, reddish color) which could be those of either Hispanic or Indian descent, and Buckskin (yellowish color) which may be those of Chinese origin. This is a way of showing Black Elk the variety of nations he must help.
Something that I took, personally, from this vision is how haunting it is. I cannot...