Wallace Black Elk 1921-2004
Wallace Black Elk
Wise Elder & Teacher
Grandfather Wallace Black Elk was a traditional Lakota Elder and Spiritual Teacher. He was the descendant of the legendary Nicholas Black Elk whose visionary experiences were recounted in the book "Black Elk Speaks." Nicholas was one of Wallace's mentors. Wallace was a second cousin of the war chief, Crazy Horse. Grandfather Wallace was born and raised on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota and has been trained since childhood in the sacred ways of his people. He was a carrier of the Channupa (sacred prayer pipe) for all people.
Grandfather Wallace was present at the occupation of Wounded Knee, and has been politically active in fighting for the rights of Native American people. He was a spiritual leader and had served as an international lecturer and as a Native American representative to the United Nations.
Wallace Black Elk called himself an Earth Man and asked that his people, those of the native cultures in all lands, be called the Earth People. In everything he says, one must remember from whence he came. Basic to our lives, he teaches, is the Natural World, and underlying all of nature is Mother Earth. Deep in her womb stir the seeds of creation. Mankind itself is fashioned from her clay. From time to time as he sits and talks, he reaches down and sifts a handful of soil through his fingers. "This," he says, "is everything."
When he was "just a little guy" Wallace Black Elk began his work. In his biography "Black Elk: The Sacred Ways of a Lakota", he claims that his birth and mission were predicted 19 generations ago. When he came "the old people were ready and waiting for me." At the age of five he received his first vision. He was given then "one drop of wisdom and one drop of knowledge ... something that I could hold onto for our little ones and the unborn behind me." Also he learned that he would not be elevated or promoted by his gifts but would instead be "under the feet of everything that exists."
Instead of book learning he was taught by 11 ‘Grandfathers,’ or spiritual Elders. They taught him to invoke the powers of the six Grandfathers — the four cardinal directions, the heavens above, and earth below. He learned to speak to Tunkashila, the Father Creator, and Grandmother Earth, the Mother Creator — our true parents. Because we are fashioned from their elements we are physically as well as metaphorically brothers and sisters of one family. He learned the universal prayer of his people, Mitakuye Oyasin, ‘all my relations.’ It is spoken in greeting and at the beginning and end of ritual observances to remind the people of their relatedness to everything that exists.
Grandfather spent many years teaching people all around the world that they are part of this same Family.
He was an international speaker and loved by many people worldwide.