Brown, Joseph Epes

Brown, Joseph Epes (1920–2000) – Like John Neihardt, Brown is a significant interpreter of the Lakota knowledge told to him by Nicholas Black Elk. Brown’s book The Sacred Pipe (1971), based on interviews with Black Elk in the winter of 1947–48, deliberately parallels the seven sacraments of Catholicism with seven Lakota rituals that are presented as the essence of their religion. While this seems true to Black Elk’s evolving spirituality (even as a Catholic catechist, he is said to have supported traditional ceremonies), some question whether it represents traditional understanding. The family history of Vine Deloria Jr. lends considerable weight to an interpretation that sincere adoption of some kind of Christianity provided a useful and necessary, but temporary, means of survival, but never replaced the foundational “core of traditional religious ways.”


Historical Dictionary of Shamanism by Graham Harvey and Robert J. Wallis 2007


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