“We must clean up what we put in our children’s minds” — Wallace Black Elk
It was an honor and privilege to spend an hour speaking with Lakota elder Wallace Black Elk, a Sundance chief, co-author of The Sacred Ways of a Lakota and spiritual grandson of the legendary Lakota Holy Man Nicholas Black Elk. Speaking to Grandfather Wallace, as he is respectfully called, it became clear that the 87 years he has been in this body have helped to focus him more clearly on the universal laws that govern all things.
This Medicine Man, known in his language as Wanbli Cekala (Eagle Little), cares deeply about the Earth and all its people – the winged people, the rock people, the green people, the crawling, creeping and swimming people, the four-leggeds and the two-leggeds. He spoke nearly non-stop about the need to establish better communication. Grandpa Wallace clearly was implying more than improved dialogue between people. He calls for a strengthened connection between the hearts of all beings — particularly in relation to Grandfather Great Spirit and Grandmother Earth.
While some may cast him off as some “dumb Indian,” using his words, Grandfather Wallace understands the disruptive effect modern technology is having on our spiritual lives. He knows all too well that “TVs, radios, computers and IBM” are not in synch with where we should be going.
“There’s a war going on everywhere, whether it’s in TV, radio, computers or IBM,” he says. “The pollution begins in the mind. And it goes around and contaminates the universal mind. What it does is cast a shadow of fear, and that shadow of fear creates all kinds of problems, worries, sadness, sickness, fear, pain and death.
“So we need to establish better communication and have better stuff on the air — TVs, computers and IBMs or whatever is out there.”
Grandfather Wallace says the use of the media — and the classroom — to teach dogma and propaganda that has nothing to do with the Channupa, or sacred way of life, also is polluting the minds of young children.
He says we need to return to the natural way of living in order to find ourselves. He says we only have to look at the examples of God’s other creations to find the way home.
“The animals, they don’t speak English,” he says. “They have their own brains, hearts and speak a language of their own. Those we call animals talk through telepathic ways of intelligence. They talk through thinking and thoughts. And when they think they chirp, warble or whistle. Those are the clues.
“But we lost ours, so we have to scream at each other. I think we are screaming too loud.”
He says it is encouraging that people from all walks of life are beginning to see the writing on the wall, that we are moving the wrong direction, that we’re taking our children the wrong direction.
“So now the whole education system has fallen apart.,” Grandfather Wallace says. “Some Christians today agree. Some theologians agree, too. I wish everybody would agree. So we won’t be wearing steel helmets, armor plates, carrying machine guns, tanks, rockets and poison gas. We don’t need this. If we really communicate correctly, we don’t need this destruction. In this society, if you’re a civilized Christian, you have to pack a pistol. So you have to hold a cross in one hand and hold a gun in the other.
“Now the problem: The kids got hold of the guns. Kids are shooting each other. Kids are killing kids, kids are making kids. Now, it’s a big problem. We’re scared of our own kids. Like the big girl, Janet Reno, and Clinton, big daddy, and the staff. Now we don’t know what to do, because it’s happening right in our own backyard.
“We don’t know what to do, so we all point fingers, police are down the street chasing robbers and rapists, ambulances are hauling the dead – and we claim we are civilized Christians. We have to lock ourselves in with chains and peep holes and chains and bars and hang a cross on our door and around our neck and put one on top of the building. We load our shotgun and lean against the door, and if anybody robs our door, shoot and ask questions later.
“Why do we have to lock ourselves in? What are we doing?”
And where are the brilliant minds who are expected to solve the problems? he asks. Busy making new and improved weapons of destruction.
“These people make all these sophisticated machines — rockets with poison gas and tanks, all these destructive tools — yet, they have no way of curing the cancer and leukemia and AIDS. It’s hard to see 10,000 scientists come together and they come out empty-handed and find no cure for AIDS. It’s really sad. Thousands and thousands of people with ADS say, ‘Do something, do something. You put us in a box. You make us eat chemicals. Nothing. We’re just waiting for death to come and take us away.’”
Grandfather Wallace says the cures for cancer and AIDS exist in the natural world, far away from the sterile confines of medical research where diplomas are required and laws and regulations continue to be written to keep out intuitive ways of healing the body.
“Over on the Channupa side, you don’t need any paper to even march or crawl in. Even if you have to crawl in, you’ll be well. You’re going to crawl out and stand up and walk. We don’t have any problem on our side. It’s easy. You don’t need any papers to get well. But the other side, you have to pay a whole lot. We’re distancing ourselves, separating ourselves from each other, like your way, my way, their way. It doesn’t bring us together. We can’t get together because we’re bound by laws, rules and regulations.”
Grandfather says modern science is only now catching up to the universal wisdom that the Creator told him years ago about the ways of life.
“When I first translated the form of life, I said this: ‘The molecules have a mind.’ But nobody believed me at that time. That’s 52 years ago. And now just recently, 40 years later, a scientist claims he discovered that molecules have minds. Yes, that’s right. How does a molecule know to shape or form a toe? How does it know to shape a nose? Anyway, I’m glad people come and start investigating me. Where I come from. Nobody knows where I come from. Some people think I came from Mars.”
Grandfather Wallace Black Elk stresses some points over and over again. You think he is just repeating himself absentmindedly, but there is no part of his mind that is absent. He reminds us that every being is a part of the Creator, and that two-legged people are no more important than the rock people. He says everything is pointed the same direction.
“When the eagle come, they say this, when you return to earth, especially the two-legged ones — the black, the yellow, the red, the white — tell them to pray, love each other, pray together, for there’s something moving now.”
Wesley Black Elk describes his father as an elder with strong spiritual values
Wesley Black Elk, son of the Lakota elder known as Grandfather Wallace Black Elk, recently spoke with The EDGE from his Champlin, Minn., home about his father.
He did not put his father on a pedestal, yet he offered his respect to a man who tried to teach his children the spiritual values of the Lakota people.
“He’s just like anybody else,” Wesley Black Elk said. “I guess I would say he is spiritual. Most of our peoples way of life…a great deal of it is spiritual…. His life has always been the way of the Lakota people and that’s the spiritual way of life. The sacred way of life.”
Wesley says as a young boy, he remembers his father talking about the Lakota way of life that his grandfathers and grandmothers passed down to him. But Wallace Black Elk was not a man who just commanded down to his children from on high.
“I best remember him by the stories that he told — not so much the stories, but the day-to-day events that went with those stories. The best way I can put this is that its like a show and tell. He tells about it and then he shows it to you. Or he can show it to you and then he can tell you about it.”
To the Lakota people, an elder is not necessarily the person with gray hair and wrinkles on the face. The term is reserved for those who pass wisdom on to others.
“To me, anybody could be an elder,” Wesley Black Elk says. “I don’t think it’s so much about age or physical appearance. I think it has to do with growth of spirituality, growth of different areas, like psychology, mental or physical parts…. An elder is somebody who understands their environment, their way of life, more so than others.”
Copyright © 1997 Tim Miejan. All Rights Reserved.