In this initial chapter, Black Elk endorses John Neihardt as the person through whom he will tell his story, which is part autobiography, part spiritual revelation, and part tribal history. He emphasizes that his own life story is also the story of his tribe and that, in fact, it would not be worth telling if it were only his personal story. This statement indicates the communal nature of Indian experience; Black Elk thinks of himself almost entirely in the context of his tribe or band, and he embodies the values of his people. In that respect, he is like the heroes of classical literature, Odysseus and Beowulf.This chapter also establishes the style of the narrative. Black Elk tells his story in the first person; he is the narrator and refers to himself as "I." The language is simple, partly because the story is told through an interpreter (Black Elk's son Ben). The tone of the narrative is elegiac, a lament for a time
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