Black Elk Analysis

This assignment replaces your usual land journal assignment, but requires 600 words. Feel free to extend the length beyond 600 if necessary.

The Assignment
Use The Rediscovery of North America to analyze Black Elk Speaks.

  • Read the last two chapters in Black Elk Speaks, on the massacre at Wounded Knee. (They’re short!)
  • Use the outline below to connect some of the ideas in Rediscovery to the events in Black Elk Speaks.
  • Write a very brief summary of the main events leading up to the massacre, focusing on the events that most relate to the ideas in Rediscovery. As you do so, insert the quotations and paraphrases from Lopez and make the connections clear. Remember to break separate thoughts into separate paragraphs. If you found Black Elk Speaks too confusing, here is an internet source you are free to use, but whatever you do, please be honest and cite your source ( NOTE: Although this particular article seems fine, be aware that Wikipedia is sometimes not a trustworthy source of information. Use caution when consulting Wikipedia; consult .edu sources whenever possible.
  • After every quote or paraphrase, insert parenthesis with the page number in Rediscovery (Lopez, page number). If you use quotes or paraphrases from Black Elk Speaks, add in those references as well (Neihardt, page number).
  • We all know what sources you have used (There are only three possibilities.) However, just for practice, make a list of works cited at the end, using the standard bibliography format (Author. Title. Publisher: city of publication, date of publication.)
  • Your final, 600+ word paper will have a minimum of three quotations and three paraphrases, all followed by page numbers in parenthesis.

What is your thesis?

  • A good paper is held together by one main idea: its thesis.
  • One main point Lopez makes in Rediscovery is that the Spanish brought an attitude with them in 1492 that continues to this day – the way Western culture treats the land and the native people who live on it. The events in Black Elk Speaks, and specifically the massacre at Wounded Knee are simply more examples of that same attitude.
  • Normally, a thesis comes near the beginning of a paper, but this one is short enough so that the end will work as well. The suggested outline below places that idea at the end of the paper, but another effective approach would be to work that idea into your opening paragraph and then to restate it near the end of the paper.

Some Suggestions

  • You have been practicing for this assignment, whether you know it or not. Remember that you have been asked to write your land journals from an objective point of view, to focus on what you are describing rather than on your own feelings about it? The same applies to this assignment. Stick to the objective mode and focus on the ideas in Lopez and the events related by Black Elk.
  • Don’t make the mistake of including too many quotes and paraphrases. Don’t ask Lopez to write your paper for you. Rather, Use your own words to summarize the relevant sections of Black Elk Speaks and then carefully insert quotes and paraphrases from Lopez to make the connection with the larger picture in Rediscovery. A good rule of thumb: quotes and paraphrases should take up no more than 10% of your entire paper.

Here is a broad outline of ONE way to approach this assignment;  feel free to omit some of the suggested ideas in the paragraphs and to add others. Please rearrange the order of specific ideas in each paragraph.  DO NOT end every paragraph in the same way, with a reference to Lopez or your piece will begin to sound more like a sewing machine than a graceful essay.

Paragraph 1 – Introduction

  • The Lakota life before contact
  • Bison hunts
  • hunter-gather lifestyle
  • Sun Dance (nature-based religion)
  • Lopez: the idea of home, and of local knowledge (see pages 21-23)

Paragraph 2 – Body

  • The events leading up to the massacre
  • 1868 treaty of Ft. Laramie
  • Discovery of gold in the 1870s
  • negotiations for the construction of the road into Lakota territory
  • Battle with 3 Stars (General Crook)
  • Little Bighorn
  • killing of Crazy Horse
  • Lopez: quotes dealing with the Spanish greed for gold, their inhumanity, their incursion into the New World (see pages 15, 21)

Paragraph 3 – Body

  • The Wounded Knee Massacre
  • Pine Ridge Agency
  • Dec 29, 1890
  • about 300 Miniconjou and Hunkpapa under Big Foot (Spotted Elk)
  • 7th Calvary w/ 365 troops
  • 150-200 Lakota killed
  • Lopez: the brutality of the Spanish (see pages 6-7)

Paragraph 4 – Conclusion

  • Make connection with the overthrow of Liliuokalani 3 years later, or
  • Make connections with the current environmental crisis, global warming, rising sea levels
  • Lopez: quote or paraphrase related to the idea that the Spanish set the tone for an attitude that has continued to the present day (see pages 9-11)