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Black Elk - Native American Indians - Climbing high mountains



Type of Spiritual Experience


Black Hills National Forest is located in southwestern South Dakota and northeastern Wyoming. Within the forest is Harney Peak which is the tallest mountain in South Dakota and the highest peak east of the Rocky Mountains in the United States.  It was regarded as a sacred peak by the Ogliaga Sioux.  As a mountain it is not that high – 7,242 feet (2,207 m), but the Sioux holy man Black Elk was ‘transported’ during his Great Vision whilst on the peak.  It is the centre of a creation myth.

Harney Peak Black Hills National Forest

A description of the experience

Black Elk Speaks – as told through John Neihardt

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 centre grew one flowering tree to shelter all the children of one mother and one father.

The source of the experience

Native American Indians

Concepts, symbols and science items

Science Items

Activities and commonsteps



Climbing high mountains



Black Elk Speaks – as told through John Neihardt