Thursday, February 18, 2010

Lucy Looks Twice

I first mentioned Michael Steltenkamp in a recent post. While Steltenkamp lived on the Pine Ridge Reservation he ran into an old woman in front of the Holy Rosary Mission. The woman turned out to be Lucy Looks Twice, the only surviving child of Black Elk (page xviii).

At that time, Michael Steltenkamp was a teacher at the Red Cloud High School and he wanted to learn more about Black Elk in order to share it with his students. His talks with Lucy Looks Twice led to a research project that ultimately produced Black Elk: Holy Man of the Oglala,the book upon which this post is based.

Steltenkamp's first interview with Lucy Looks Twice got off to a bad start because he asked her questions based on the famous books Black Elk Speaks and The Sacred Pipe. Lucy made it clear that she had never read the famous books about her father but knew enough about them to be aware that "her father was being misunderstood and that people were using the material from his books in a way he never intended"(page xx).

Black Elk's daughter had a complaint about John Neihardt, a poet and the author of Black Elk Speaks (pages 20-21):

My father related to John Neihardt an addtion to his book, but they never put it out. Afterward, he realized this and wanted the last part of his life also told - his life as a Christian man praying. My father wanted it known that after he quit his medicine practice, he became a catechist. But this man [Lucy pointed to a picture of John Neihardt] really believed in the Indian religion....

Many people have already read about my father's life as a medicine man in Black Elk Speaks and The Sacred Pipe. So, I'd like to tell about the rest of his life- the many years not talked about in either book. The greater part of his life was spent as a Catholic catechist whom I knew as [my] loving father.... My father would have wanted me to do this.

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