The Offering of the Pipe by Black Elk (Summary and Reflection)

The Offering of the Pipe by Black Elk – it is a story about a man who makes a sacred offering to nature in order to seek power from the four quarters of the universe. The author introduced himself as his opening statement, and followed by his descriptions about the beautiful creations in the world. Some of the good things that he had done were told in the selection before confessing that his life is such a mix of happiness and sorrow. He narrated how he does the smoking of the sacred pipe to summon a voice for the four spirits which stand for the quarters of the universe or wind directions – north, east, west and south. Each spirit has a specified color and purpose to them. The background about how the sacred pipe came from was also unfolded in the middle of the story where a sacred woman gave an order to the wise man to build a big tepee for her. The man, who feared her so much for making his fool friend a skeleton covered with worms, hurriedly return to his place to spread the news. And when the time came when the sacred woman went to see the big tepee for her, a lot of descriptions were again revealed by Black Elk. He illustrated how beautiful the woman is, and how she sang a few line of the song while coming over to the said tepee. And before going out from their place, she left a wonderful pipe that has a lot of features to offer. Then he later ended the story by showing what he’s currently doing – he lighted the pipe and praised his god earnestly to ask for power that he would somehow be like him.

To be frank, reading the story gave me a little boredom. There are parts that are really difficult to comprehend. I have notice that there is a part of the introduction that resembles to The Creation in Greek Mythology – specifically the idea about Father Heaven named Uranus and Mother Earth named Gaia. I have realized that even the literature of Native Americans has similarities to other classic literature. I don’t know if the term would sound offensive, but I believe the topic is about paganism. Though it is really weird for me especially how he dressed up his story, I still manage to understand it. People are really like that before, and it was proven by history as well. They have a high reverence for nature for they believe it is their god who is responsible for everything – their peaceful living, healthy crops, abundance of food production etc. It just so happen that in Black Elk’s story, they are praying for a great spirit, and not directly to a certain living thing in this planet. Well, it is fine with me reading it because it gives a piece of information about our history, and how our Native Americans devoted much of their time for spiritual purposes. Unlike now that only few people have an interest about religion. But it doesn’t change the fact that I didn’t appreciate much the story. I’m considering certain factors why it turned out to be that way. I am thinking if maybe I grew up at their period of time, I would be pretty much pleased to read and see its worth in my daily living.


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