Black Elk Speaks

Contrasting the Tales of Westward Expansion: Writing Techniques in Brown and Neihardt's Accounts 11th Grade

In Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown and Black Elk Speaks by John Neihardt, both the history of the American Indians, as well as the loss of their land and culture to westward expansion, are examined. In Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, Brown documents the stories of various Native American tribes, including as the Sioux, Navajo, Cheyenne, and Apache, who were ruthlessly eradicated. In Black Elk Speaks, Neihardt interviews the prominent Native American figure Black Elk, a medicine man of the Oglala Sioux tribe. Neihardt translates his interviews with Black Elk, and writes down Black Elk’s experiences into narrative form. Not only is it remarkable that Neihardt documented Black Elk’s personal experiences from his memories as a child to the present, but the personal experiences themselves present a unique perspective on the conquering of Native American lands. These experiences shape the way the history of the Native Americans is perceived, creating much more personal view. Although both Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee and Black Elk Speaks were written to narrate the destruction of Native American culture and the conquest of their land, Black Elk Speaks was the more effective in representing the Native Americans and their...

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