The red road
Native Americans' spiritual teachings are diverse, and while there are sometimes common elements, the ceremonies and many of the beliefs are unique to the people of these diverse bands, tribes and nations.
The concept was first brought to non-native American audiences by John G. Neihardt, in his book Black Elk Speaks. Though Black Elk (1863–1950) was Oglala Lakota, the book was authored by Neihardt, who is non-Native. While lauded by non-Native audiences, and inspirational to many New Age groups, the book is largely considered to not be representative of actual Lakota beliefs. Neidhardt claimed that Black Elk believed he had an obligation to "help to bring my people back into the sacred hoop, that they might again walk the red road in a sacred manner pleasing to the powers of the universe that are one power."
"Hear me, four quarters of the world--a relative I am! Give me the strength to walk the soft earth, a relative to all that is! Give me the eyes to see and the strength to understand, that I may be like you. With your power only can I face the winds.
Great Spirit, Great Spirit, my Grandfather, all over the earth the faces of living things are all alike. With tenderness have these come up out of the ground. Look upon these faces of children without number and with children in their arms, that they may face the wind and walk the good road to the day of quiet.- "Black Elk's Prayer for All Life"
This is my prayer; hear me!"
Healing and recovery
In some modern, Pan-Indian or New Age healing systems the idea of the Red Road plays part of the recovery process from illness, spiritual sickness, and addictions: Through "the Sweat lodge, the Red Road, and the Recovery Medicine Wheel."
Concern for the cost of severing one's relationship with the earth has been echoed by many modern, leading Western thinkers such as Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell, as well as the environmental movement. The phrase is "The Red Road" has been picked up by many non-Native American writers, with possible New Age appropriations or their own ideas of what they think Native American ceremonies are like.
American Indian author Vine Deloria, Jr. wrote:
"The first and great difference between primitive religious thought and the world religions ... is that primitive peoples maintain an air of mystery through their bond with nature; the world religions sever the relationship and attempt to establish a new, more comprehensible one."
- Blessing Way
- Cultural appropriation
- Indigenous decolonization
- Medicine wheel
- Native American Church
- Native American Spirituality Movements
- Plastic Shaman
- Sweat lodge
- Evan T Pritchard Native American Stories of the Sacred: Annotated & Explained Sky Light Illuminations 2005 "Black Elk, in The Sacred Pipe, speaks of the Red Road as the north-south cross of the Medicine Wheel, and the east-west cross as the black or blue road, the way we ..."
- Native American Stories of the Sacred: Annotated & Explained 2005- Page xi "One unifying feature of Native American belief is the concept of the “Red Road,” though each tribe and nation also has its own name for it. Black Elk speaks of the Red Road in the book The Sacred Pipe."
- Neihardt, John G. (1932, William Morrow & Company) Black Elk Speaks
- DeMallie, Raymond (Nebraska University Press, 1985). The Sixth Grandfather: Black Elk's Teachings Given to John G. Neihardt, ISBN# 0803265646. Introduction and notes throughout the book.
- Carl Silvio, Internet Public Library, academic arguments on authorship, translation, and interpretation for prospective audiences have been written by Carl Silvio, among others. Note: This site has been superseded since 2010 by www.ipl2.org, a consortium of universities, accessed 19 June 2011
- Willis Goth Regier, Masterpieces of American Indian Literature. U of Nebraska Press, 2005, p. 580. ISBN 0-8032-8997-9.
- Walker, "A Social Ethical Analysis of BLACK ELK SPEAKS", Southern Methodist University.
- RD VICK, LM Smith, CIR Herrera - The healing circle: An alternative path to alcoholism recovery Counseling and Values, 1998 - Wiley Online Library "... Therefore, the incorporation of tribal spiritual teachings and practices into the recovery process can be crucial to its success. Three elements are central to the recovery process: the Sweat Lodge, the Red Road, and the Recovery Medicine Wheel."
- Donald N. Panther-Yates The Eighth Arrow: Right, Wrong and Confused Paths according ... "Like the original act of creation by Great Spirit, the Red Road is the first, and easiest, direction to take in our development as human beings and spiritual creatures."
- Vine Deloria, quoted in: Huston Smith, Phil Cousineau, Gary Rhine, A Seat at the Table: Huston Smith in Conversation with Native Americans on Religious Freedom. University of California Press, 2006, p. 185. ISBN 0-520-24439-7.