Black Elk Speaks
The Great Vision
What happened after that until the summer I was nine years old
is not a story. There were winters and summers, and they were good;
for the Wasichus had made their
iron road along the
Platte and traveled there. This had cut the bison herd in two, but
those that stayed in our country with us were more than could be
counted, and we wandered without trouble in our land.
Now and then the voices would come back when I was out alone, like
someone calling me, but what they wanted me to do I did not know.
This did not happen very often, and when it did not happen, I forgot
about it; for I was growing taller and was riding horses now and
could shoot prairie chickens and rabbits with my bow. The boys of
my people began very young to learn the ways of men, and no one
taught us; we just learned by doing what we saw, and we were warriors
at a time when boys now are like girls.
It was the summer when I was nine years old, and our people were
moving slowly towards the Rocky Mountains. We camped one evening
in a valley beside a little creek just before it ran into the Greasy
Grass, and there was a man by the name of Man Hip who liked
me and asked me to eat with him in his tepee.
While I was eating, a voice came and said: "It is time; now
they are calling you." The voice was so loud and clear that
I believed it, and I thought I would just go where it wanted me
to go. So I got right up and started. As I came out of the tepee,
both my thighs began to hurt me, and suddenly it was like waking
from a dream, and there wasn't any voice. So I went back into the
tepee, but I didn't want to eat. Man Hip looked at me in a strange
way and asked me what was wrong. I told him that my legs were hurting
The next morning the camp moved again, and I was riding with some
boys. We stopped to get a drink from a creek, and when I got off
my horse, my legs crumpled under me and I could not walk. So the
boys helped me up and put me on my horse; and when we camped again
that evening, I was sick. The next day the camp moved on to where
the different bands of our people were coming together, and I rode
in a pony drag, for I was very sick. Both my legs and both my arms
were swollen badly and my face was all puffed up.
When we had camped again, I was lying in our tepee and my mother
and father were sitting beside me. I could see out through the opening,
and there two men were coming from the clouds, headfirst like arrows
slanting down, and I knew they were the same that I had seen before.
Each now carried a long spear, and from the points of these a jagged
lightning flashed. They came clear down to the ground this time
and stood a little way off and looked at me and said: "Hurry!
Come! Your Grandfathers are calling you!"
Then they turned and left the ground like arrows slanting upward
from the bow. When I got up to follow, my legs did not hurt me any
more and I was very light. I went outside the tepee, and yonder
where the men with flaming spears were going, a little cloud was
coming very fast. It came and stooped and took me and turned back
to where it came from, flying fast. And when I looked down I could
see my mother and my father yonder, and I felt sorry to be leaving
Then there was nothing but the air and the swiftness of the little
cloud that bore me and those two men still leading up to where white
clouds were piled like mountains on a wide blue plain, and in them
thunder beings lived and leaped and flashed.
Now suddenly there was nothing but a world of cloud, and we three
were there alone in the middle of a great white plain with snowy
hills and mountains staring at us; and it was very still; but there
Then the two men spoke together and they said: "Behold him,
the being with four legs!"
I looked and saw a bay horse standing there, and he began to speak:
"Behold me!" he said, "My life-history you shall
see." Then he wheeled about to where the sun goes down, and
said: "Behold them! Their history you shall know."
I looked, and there were twelve black horses yonder all abreast
with necklaces of bison hoofs, and they were beautiful, but I was
frightened, because their manes were lightning and there was thunder
in their nostrils.
Then the bay horse wheeled to where the great white giant lives
[the north] and said: "Behold!" And yonder there were
twelve white horses all abreast. Their manes were flowing like a
blizzard wind and from their noses came a roaring, and all about
them white geese soared and circled.
Then the bay wheeled round to where the sun shines continually
[the east] and bade me look; and there twelve sorrel horses, with
necklaces of elk's teeth, stood abreast with eyes that glimmered
like the day-break star and manes of morning light.
Then the bay wheeled once again to look upon the place where you
are always facing [the south], and yonder stood twelve buckskins
all abreast with horns upon their heads and manes that lived and
grew like trees and grasses.
And when I had seen all these, the bay horse said: "Your Grandfathers
are having a council. These shall take you; so have courage."
Then all the horses went into formation, four abreast--the blacks,
the whites, the sorrels, and the buckskins--and stood behind the
bay, who turned now to the west and neighed; and yonder suddenly
the sky was terrible with a storm of plunging horses in all colors
that shook the world with thunder, neighing back.
Now turning to the north the bay horse whinnied, and yonder all
the sky roared with a mighty wind of running horses in all colors,
And when he whinnied to the east, there too the sky was filled
with glowing clouds of manes and tails of horses in all colors singing
back. Then to the south he called, and it was crowded with many
colored, happy horses, nickering.
Then the bay horse spoke to me again and said: "See how your
horses all come dancing!" I looked, and there were horses,
horses everywhere--a whole skyful of horses dancing round me.
"Make haste!" the bay horse said; and we walked together
side by side, while the blacks, the whites, the sorrels, and the
buckskins followed, marching four by four.
I looked about me once again, and suddenly the dancing horses without
number changed into animals of every kind and into all the fowls
that are, and these fled back to the four quarters of the world
from whence the horses came, and vanished.
Then as we walked, there was a heaped up cloud ahead that changed
into a tepee, and a rainbow was the open door of it; and through
the door I saw six old men sitting in a row.
The two men with the spears now stood beside me, one on either
hand, and the horses took their places in their quarters, looking
inward, four by four. And the oldest of the Grandfathers spoke with
a kind voice and said: "Come right in and do not fear."
And as he spoke, all the horses of the four quarters neighed to
cheer me. So I went in and stood before the six, and they looked
older than men can ever be--old like hills, like stars.
The oldest spoke again: "Your Grandfathers all over the world
are having a council, and they have called you here to teach you."
His voice was very kind, but I shook all over with fear now, for
I knew that these were not old men, but the Powers of the World.
And the first was the Power of the West; the second, of the North;
the third, of the East; the fourth, of the South; the fifth, of
the Sky; the sixth, of the Earth. I knew this, and was afraid, until
the first Grandfather spoke again: "Behold them yonder where
the sun goes down, the thunder beings! You shall see, and have from
them my power; and they shall take you to the high and lonely center
of the earth that you may see; even to the place where the sun continually
shines, they shall take you there to understand."
And as he spoke of understanding, I looked up and saw the rainbow
leap with flames of many colors over me.
Now there was a wooden cup in his hand and it was full of water
and in the water was the sky.
"Take this," he said. "It is the power to make live,
and it is yours."
Now he had a bow in his hands. "Take this," he said.
"It is the power to destroy, and it is yours."
Then he pointed to himself and said: "Look close at him who
is your spirit now, for you are his body and his name is Eagle Wing
And saying this, he got up very tall and started running toward
where the sun goes down; and suddenly he was a black horse that
stopped and turned and looked at me, and the horse was very poor
and sick; his ribs stood out.
Then the second Grandfather, he of the North, arose with a herb
of power in his hand, and said: "Take this and hurry."
I took and held it toward the black horse yonder. He fattened and
was happy and came prancing to his place again and was the first
Grandfather sitting there.
The second Grandfather, he of the North, spoke again: "Take
courage, younger brother," he said; "on earth a nation
you shall make live, for yours shall be the power of the white giant's
wing, the cleansing wind." Then he got up very tall and started
running toward the north; and when he turned toward me, it was a
white goose wheeling. I looked about me now, and the horses in the
west were thunders and the horses of the north were geese. And the
second Grandfather sang two songs that were like this:
"They are appearing, may you behold!
They are appearing, may you behold!
The thunder nation is appearing, behold!
They are appearing, may you behold!
They are appearing, may you behold!
The white geese nation is appearing, behold!"
And now it was the third Grandfather who spoke, he of where the
sun shines continually. "Take courage, younger brother,"
he said, "for across the earth they shall take you!" Then
he pointed to where the daybreak star was shining, and beneath the
star two men were flying. "From them you shall have power,"
he said, "from them who have awakened all the beings of the
earth with roots and legs and wings." And as he said this,
he held in his hand a peace pipe which had a spotted eagle outstretched
upon the stem; and this eagle seemed alive, for it was poised there,
fluttering, and its eyes were looking at me. "With this pipe,"
the Grandfather said, "you shall walk upon the earth, and whatever
sickens there you shall make well." Then he pointed to a man
who was bright red all over, the color of good and of plenty, and
as he pointed, the red man lay down and rolled and changed into
a bison that got up and galloped toward the sorrel horses of the
east, and they too turned to bison, fat and many.
And now the fourth Grandfather spoke, he of the place where you
are always facing [the south], whence comes the power to grow. "Younger
brother," he said, "with the powers of the four quarters
you shall walk, a relative. Behold, the living center of a nation
I shall give you, and with it many you shall save." And I saw
that he was holding in his hand a bright red stick that was alive,
and as I looked it sprouted at the top and sent forth branches,
and on the branches many leaves came out and murmured and in the
leaves the birds began to sing. And then for just a little while
I thought I saw beneath it in the shade the circled villages of
people and every living thing with roots or legs or wings, and all
were happy. "It shall stand in the center of the nation's circle,"
said the Grandfather, "a cane to walk with and a people's heart;
and by your powers you shall make it blossom."
Then when he had been still a little while to hear the birds sing,
he spoke again: "Behold the earth!" So I looked down and
saw it lying yonder like a hoop of peoples, and in the center bloomed
the holy stick that was a tree, and where it stood there crossed
two roads, a red one and a black. "From where the giant lives
[the north] to where you always face [the south] the red road goes,
the road of good," the Grandfather said, "and on it shall
your nation walk. The black road goes from where the thunder beings
live (the west) to where the sun continually shines [the east],
a fearful road, a road of troubles and of war. On this also you
shall walk, and from it you shall have the power to destroy a people's
foes. In four ascents you shall walk the earth with power."
I think he meant that I should see four generations, counting me,
and now I am seeing the third.
Then he rose very tall and started running toward the south, and
was an elk; and as he stood among the buckskins yonder, they too
Now the fifth Grandfather spoke, the oldest of them all, the Spirit
of the Sky. "My boy," he said, "I have sent for you
and you have come. My power you shall see!" He stretched his
arms and turned into a spotted eagle hovering. "Behold,"
he said, "all the wings of the air shall come to you, and they
and the winds and the stars shall be like relatives. You shall go
across the earth with my power." Then the eagle soared above
my head and fluttered there; and suddenly the sky was full of friendly
wings all coming toward me.
Now I knew the sixth Grandfather was about to speak, he who was
the Spirit of the Earth, and I saw that he was very old, but more
as men are old. His hair was long and white, his face was all in
wrinkles and his eyes were deep and dim. I stared at him, for it
seemed I knew him somehow; and as I stared, he slowly changed, for
he was growing backwards into youth, and when he had become a boy,
I knew that he was myself with all the years that would be mine
at last. When he was old again, he said: "My boy, have courage,
for my power shall be yours, and you shall need it, for your nation
on the earth will have great troubles. Come."
He rose and tottered out through the rainbow door, and as I followed
I was riding on the bay horse who had talked to me at first and
led me to that place.
Then the bay horse stopped and faced the black horses of the west,
and a voice said: "They have given you the cup of water to
make live the greening day, and also the bow and arrow to destroy."
The bay neighed, and the twelve black horses came and stood behind
me, four abreast.
The bay faced the sorrels of the east, and I saw that they had
morning stars upon their foreheads and they were very bright. And
the voice said: "They have given you the sacred pipe and the
power that is peace, and the good red day." The bay neighed,
and the twelve sorrels stood behind me, four abreast.
My horse now faced the buckskins of the south, and a voice said:
"They have given you the sacred stick and your nation's hoop,
and the yellow day; and in the center of the hoop you shall set
the stick and make it grow into a shielding tree, and bloom."
The bay neighed, and the twelve buckskins came and stood behind
me, four abreast.
Then I knew that there were riders on all the horses there behind
me, and a voice said: "Now you shall walk the black road with
these; and as you walk, all the nations that have roots or legs
or wings shall fear you."
So I started, riding toward the east down the fearful road, and
behind me came the horsebacks four abreast--the blacks, the whites,
the sorrels, and the buckskins--and far away above the fearful road
the daybreak star was rising very dim.
I looked below me where the earth was silent in a sick green light,
and saw the hills look up afraid and the grasses on the hills and
all the animals; and everywhere about me were the cries of frightened
birds and sounds of fleeing wings. I was the chief of all the heavens
riding there, and when I looked behind me, all the twelve black
horses reared and plunged and thundered and their manes and tails
were whirling hail and their nostrils snorted lightning. And when
I looked below again, I saw the slant hail falling and the long,
sharp rain, and where we passed, the trees bowed low and all the
hills were dim.
Now the earth was bright again as we rode. I could see the hills
and valleys and the creeks and rivers passing under. We came above
a place where three streams made a big one - a source of mighty
waters - and something terrible was there. Flames were rising
from the waters and in the flames a blue man lived. The dust was
floating all about him in the air, the grass was short and withered,
the trees were wilting, two-legged and four-legged beings lay there
thin and panting, and wings too weak to fly.
Then the black horse riders shouted " Hoka
hey !" and charged down upon the blue man, but were driven
back. And the white troop shouted, charging, and was beaten; then
the red troop and the yellow.
And when each had failed, they all cried together: "Eagle
Wing Stretches, hurry!" And all the world was filled with voices
of all kinds that cheered me, so I charged. I had the cup of water
in one hand and in the other was the bow that turned into a spear
as the bay and I swooped down, and the spear's head was sharp lightning.
It stabbed the blue man's heart, and as it struck I could hear the
thunder rolling and many voices that cried " Un-hee!,"
meaning I had killed. The flames died. The trees and grasses were
not withered any more and murmured happily together, and every living
being cried in gladness with whatever voice it had. Then the four
troops of horsemen charged down and struck the dead body of the
blue man, counting coup; and suddenly it was only a harmless turtle.
You see, I had been riding with the storm clouds, and had come
to earth as rain, and it was drouth that I had killed with the power
that the Six Grandfathers gave me. So we were riding on the earth
now down along the river flowing full from the source of waters,
and soon I saw ahead the circled village of a people in the valley.
And a Voice said: "Behold a nation; it is yours. Make haste,
Eagle Wing Stretches!"
I entered the village, riding, with the four horse troops behind
me - the blacks, the whites, the sorrels, and the buckskins; and
the place was filled with moaning and with mourning for the dead.
The wind was blowing from the south like fever, and when I looked
around I saw that in nearly every tepee the women and the children
and the men lay dying with the dead.
So I rode around the circle of the village, looking in upon the
sick and dead, and I felt like crying as I rode. But when I looked
behind me, all the women and the children and the men were getting
up and coming forth with happy faces.
And a Voice said: "Behold, they have given you the center
of the nation's hoop to make it live."
So I rode to the center of the village, with the horse troops in
their quarters round about me, and there the people gathered. And
the Voice said: "Give them now the flowering stick that they
may flourish, and the sacred pipe that they may know the power that
is peace, and the wing of the white giant that they may have endurance
and face all winds with courage."
So I took the bright red stick and at the center of the nation's
hoop I thrust it in the earth. As it touched the earth it leaped
mightily in my hand and was a waga chun, the rustling tree, very
tall and full of leafy branches and of all birds singing. And beneath
it all the animals were mingling with the people like relatives
and making happy cries. The women raised their tremolo of joy, and
the men shouted all together: "Here we shall raise our children
and be as little chickens under the mother sheo's wing."
Then I heard the white wind blowing gently through the tree and
singing there, and from the east the sacred pipe came flying on
its eagle wings, and stopped before me there beneath the tree, spreading
deep peace around it.
Then the daybreak star was rising, and a Voice said: "It shall
be a relative to them; and who shall see it, shall see much more,
for thence comes wisdom; and those who do not see it shall be dark."
And all the people raised their faces to the east, and the star's
light fell upon them, and all the dogs barked loudly and the horses
Then when the many little voices ceased, the great Voice said:
"Behold the circle of the nation's hoop, for it is holy, being
endless, and thus all powers shall be one power in the people without
end. Now they shall break camp and go forth upon the red road, and
your Grandfathers shall walk with them." So the people broke
camp and took the good road with the white wing on their faces,
and the order of their going was like this:
First, the black horse riders with the cup of water; and the white
horse riders with the white wing and the sacred herb; and the sorrel
riders with the holy pipe; and the buckskins with the flowering
stick. And after these the little children and the youths and maidens
followed in a band.
Second, came the tribe's four chieftains, and their band was all
young men and women.
Third, the nation's four advisers leading men and women neither
young nor old.
Fourth, the old men hobbling with their canes and looking to the
Fifth, old women hobbling with their canes and looking to the earth.
Sixth, myself all alone upon the bay with the bow and arrows that
the First Grandfather gave me. But I was not the last; for when
I looked behind me there were ghosts of people like a trailing fog
as far as I could see--grandfathers of grandfathers and grandmothers
of grandmothers without number. And over these a great Voice--the
Voice that was the South--lived, and I could feel it silent.
And as we went the Voice behind me said: "Behold a good nation
walking in a sacred manner in a good land!"
Then I looked up and saw that there were four ascents ahead, and
these were generations I should know. Now we were on the first ascent,
and all the land was green. And as the long line climbed, all the
old men and women raised their hands, palms forward, to the far
sky yonder and began to croon a song together, and the sky ahead
was filled with clouds of baby faces.
When we came to the end of the first ascent we camped in the sacred
circle as before, and in the center stood the holy tree, and still
the land about us was all green.
Then we started on the second ascent, marching as before, and still
the land was green, but it was getting steeper. And as I looked
ahead, the people changed into elks and bison and all four-footed
beings and even into fowls, all walking in a sacred manner on the
good red road together. And I myself was a spotted eagle soaring
over them. But just before we stopped to camp at the end of that
ascent, all the marching animals grew restless and afraid that they
were not what they had been, and began sending forth voices of trouble,
calling to their chiefs. And when they camped at the end of that
ascent, I looked down and saw that leaves were falling from the
And the Voice said: "Behold your nation, and remember what
your Six Grandfathers gave you, for thenceforth your people walk
Then the people broke camp again, and saw the black road before
them towards where the sun goes down, and black clouds coming yonder;
and they did not want to go but could not stay. And as they walked
the third ascent, all 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.
And when we reached the summit of the third ascent and camped,
the nation's hoop was broken like a ring of smoke that spreads and
scatters and the holy tree seemed dying and all its birds were gone.
And when I looked ahead I saw that the fourth ascent would be terrible.
Then when the people were getting ready to begin the fourth ascent,
the Voice spoke like some one weeping, and it said: "Look there
upon your nation." And when I looked down, the people were
all changed back to human, and they were thin, their faces sharp,
for they were starving. Their ponies were only hide and bones, and
the holy tree was gone.
And as I looked and wept, I saw that there stood on the north side
of the starving camp a sacred man who was painted red all over his
body, and he held a spear as he walked into the center of the people,
and there he lay down and rolled. And when he got up, it was a fat
bison standing there, and where the bison stood a sacred herb sprang
up right where the tree had been in the center of the nation's hoop.
The herb grew and bore four blossoms on a single stem while I was
looking - a blue, a white, a scarlet, and a yellow--and the bright
rays of these flashed to the heavens.
I know now what this meant, that the bison were the gift of a good
spirit and were our strength, but we should lose them, and from
the same good spirit we must find another strength. For the people
all seemed better when the herb had grown and bloomed, and the horses
raised their tails and neighed and pranced around, and I could see
a light breeze going from the north among the people like a ghost;
and suddenly the flowering tree was there again at the center of
the nation's hoop where the four-rayed herb had blossomed.
I was still the spotted eagle floating, and I could see that I
was already in the fourth ascent and the people were camping yonder
at the top of the third long rise. It was dark and terrible about
me, for all the winds of the world were fighting. It was like rapid
gun-fire and like whirling smoke, and like women and children wailing
and like horses screaming all over the world.
I could see my people yonder running about, setting the smoke-flap
poles and fastening down their tepees against the wind, for the
storm cloud was coming on them very fast and black, and there were
frightened swallows without number fleeing before the cloud.
Then a song of power came to me and I sang it there in the midst
of that terrible place where I was. It went like this:
- A good nation I will make live.
- This the nation above has said.
- They have given me the power to make over.
And when I had sung this, a Voice said: "To the four quarters
you shall run for help, and nothing shall be strong before you.
Now I was on my bay horse again, because the horse is of the earth,
and it was there my power would be used. And as I obeyed the Voice
and looked, there was a horse all skin and bones yonder in the west,
a faded brownish black. And a Voice there said: "Take this
and make him over; and it was the four-rayed herb that I was holding
in my hand. So I rode above the poor horse in a circle, and as I
did this I could hear the people yonder calling for spirit power,
"A-hey! a-hey! a-hey! a-hey!" Then the poor horse neighed
and rolled and got up, and he was a big, shiny, black stallion with
dapples all over him and his mane about him like a cloud. He was
the chief of all the horses; and when he snorted, it was a flash
of lightning and his eyes were like the sunset star. He dashed to
the west and neighed, and the west was filled with a dust of hoofs,
and horses without number, shiny black, came plunging from the dust.
Then he dashed toward the north and neighed, and to the east and
to the south, and the dust clouds answered, giving forth their plunging
horses without number--whites and sorrels and buckskins, fat, shiny,
rejoicing in their fleetness and their strength. It was beautiful,
but it was also terrible.
Then they all stopped short, rearing, and were standing in a great
hoop about their black chief at the center, and were still.
And as they stood, four virgins, more beautiful than women of the
earth can be, came through the circle, dressed in scarlet, one from
each of the four quarters, and stood about the great black stallion
in their places; and one held the wooden cup of water, and one the
white wing, and one the pipe, and one the nation's hoop. All the
universe was silent, listening; and then the great black stallion
raised his voice and sang. The song he sang was this:
- "My horses, prancing they are coming.
- My horses, neighing they are coming;
- Prancing, they are coming.
- All over the universe they come.
- They will dance; may you behold them.
- [4 times]
- A horse nation, they will dance. May you behold them."
- [4 times]
His voice was not loud, but it went all over the universe and filled
it. There was nothing that did not hear, and it was more beautiful
than anything can be. It was so beautiful that nothing anywhere
could keep from dancing. The virgins danced, and all the circled
horses. The leaves on the trees, the grasses on the hills and in
the valleys, the waters in the creeks and in the rivers and the
lakes, the four-legged and the two-legged and the wings of the air--all
danced together to the music of the stallion's song.
And when I looked down upon my people yonder, the cloud passed
over, blessing them with friendly rain, and stood in the east with
a flaming rainbow over it.
Then all the horses went singing back to their places beyond the
summit of the fourth ascent, and all things sang along with them
as they walked.
And a Voice said: "All over the universe they have finished
a day of happiness." And looking down I saw that the whole
wide circle of the day was beautiful and green, with all fruits
growing and all things kind and happy.
Then a Voice said: "Behold this day, for it is yours to make.
Now you shall stand upon the center of the earth to see, for there
they are taking you."
I was still on my bay horse, and once more I felt the riders of
the west, the north, the east, the south, behind me in formation,
as before, and we were going east. I looked ahead and saw the mountains
there with rocks and forests on them, and from the mountains flashed
all colors upward to the heavens. Then I was standing 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 holy.
Then as I stood there, two men were coming from the east, head
first like arrows flying, and between them rose the day-break star.
They came and gave a herb to me and said: "With this on earth
you shall undertake anything and do it." It was the day-break-star
herb, the herb of understanding, and they told me to drop it on
the earth. I saw it falling far, and when it struck the earth it
rooted and grew and flowered, four blossoms on one stem, a blue,
a white, a scarlet, and a yellow; and the rays from these streamed
upward to the heavens so that all creatures saw it and in no place
was there darkness.
Then the Voice said: "Your Six Grandfathers - now you shall
go back to them."
I had not noticed how I was dressed until now, and I saw that I
was painted red all over, and my joints were painted black, with
white stripes between the joints. My bay had lightning stripes all
over him, and his mane was cloud. And when I breathed, my breath
Now two men were leading me, head first like arrows slanting upward--the
two that brought me from the earth. And as I followed on the bay,
they turned into four flocks of geese that flew in circles, one
above each quarter, sending forth a sacred voice as they flew: Br-r-r-p,
br-r-r-p, br-r-r-p, br-r-r-p!
Then I saw ahead the rainbow flaming above the tepee of the Six
Grandfathers, built and roofed with cloud and sewed with thongs
of lightning; and underneath it were all the wings of the air and
under them the animals and men. All these were rejoicing, and thunder
was like happy laughter.
As I rode in through the rainbow door, there were cheering voices
from all over the universe, and I saw the Six Grandfathers sitting
in a row, with their arms held toward me and their hands, palms
out; and behind them in the cloud were faces thronging, without
number, of the people yet to be.
"He has triumphed!" cried the six together, making thunder.
And as I passed before them there, each gave again the gift that
he had given me before--the cup of water and the bow and arrows,
the power to make live and to destroy; the white wing of cleansing
and the healing herb; the sacred pipe; the flowering stick. And
each one spoke in turn from west to south, explaining what he gave
as he had done before, and as each one spoke he melted down into
the earth and rose again; and as each did this, I felt nearer to
Then the oldest of them all said: "Grandson, all over the
universe you have seen. Now you shall go back with power to the
place from whence you came, and it shall happen yonder that hundreds
shall be sacred, hundreds shall be flames! Behold!"
I looked below and saw my people there, and all were well and happy
except one, and he was lying like the dead--and that one was myself.
Then the oldest Grandfather sang, and his song was like this:
- "There is someone lying on earth in a sacred manner.
- There is someone--on earth he lies.
- In a sacred manner I have made him to walk."
Now the tepee, built and roofed with cloud, began to sway back
and forth as in a wind, and the flaming rainbow door was growing
dimmer. I could hear voices of all kinds crying from outside: "Eagle
Wing Stretches is coming forth! Behold him!"
When I went through the door, the face of the day of earth was
appearing with the day-break star upon its forehead; and the sun
leaped up and looked upon me, and I was going forth alone.
And as I walked alone, I heard the sun singing as it arose, and
it sang like this:
- "With visible face I am appearing.
- In a sacred manner I appear.
- For the greening earth a pleasantness I make.
- The center of the nation's hoop I have made pleasant.
- With visible face, behold me!
- The four-leggeds and two-leggeds, I have made them to walk;
- The wings of the air, I have made them to fly.
- With visible face I appear.
- My day, I have made it holy."
When the singing stopped, I was feeling lost and very lonely.
Then a Voice above me said: "Look back!" It was a spotted
eagle that was hovering over me and spoke. I looked, and where the
flaming rainbow tepee, built and roofed with cloud, had been, I
saw only the tall rock mountain at the center of the world.
I was all alone on a broad plain now with my feet upon the earth,
alone but for the spotted eagle guarding me. I could see my people's
village far ahead, and I walked very fast, for I was homesick now.
Then I saw my own tepee, and inside I saw my mother and my father
bending over a sick boy that was myself. And as I entered the tepee,
some one was saying: "The boy is coming to; you had better
give him some water."
Then I was sitting up; and I was sad because my mother and my father
didn't seem to know I had been so far away.
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