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rather the potential threat to the United State's welfare by a dictatorship in Iraq. What is Black

Elk's moral philosophy? The spiritual grounding for his moral philosophy (and that of the Lakota)

is not questioned by Black Elk, but is considered self-evident and thus, it is not important. "The

boys of my people began very young to learn the ways of men, and no one taught us" (Neihardt

1961, pg. 20). Black Elk's moral philosophy centers on the concept that there is a natural order

that must be sustained. Part of this natural order is the importance of universal kinship

relationships, i.e. everythingis part of a universal family from Americans to Iraqis to trees. Inthis

universal family there exists a system of forbearance (consisting of retribution and atonement), and

reciprocity, all of which serve to keep a natural balance. For example, praying for forgiveness and

giving thanks for killing a buffalo (atonement and reciprocity), and the raiding of another tribe in

revenge for their previous attack on the Lakota village (retribution) are both actions which serve to

restore natural order to the world--they equalize.

For Black Elk and the Lakota, man must not only try to keep the natural order, but man is

helpless and only bythe aid of the spiritual world (through vision) can he know what is right and

keep the natural order; "because no good thing can be done by any man alone, I will first make an

offering and send a voice to the Spirit of the World, that it may help me be true" (Neihardt 1961,

pg. 2). A crucial part in determining what is moral through visions is their proper interpretation.

But for a vision to lead to moral action,it must be properly interpreted. Retrospectively Black Elk

said "and now when I look upon my people in despair, I felt like crying and I wish and wish my

vision had been given to a man more worthy" (Neihardt 1967, pg. 180), perhaps to someone who

could better interpret vision. Those who do interpret visions, like Black Elk, are fully responsible

for actions that stem from a vision.

Black Elk would likely say that an attack on Baghdad would not be justified. His reasoning

for this would be that the government of the United States has no reason to sacrifice and kill ten

thousand civilians, especially if the reason we are firing missiles at Baghdad is because of the

actions of the Iraqi government. There is no cause for retribution. In other words, the civilians we

would be sacrificing have nothing to do with Saddam's government. It would be against the

natural order to kill innocent civilians, there would be no reason for retribution, and what would

the point be of killing those who are not responsible for the actions of their country?

On the flip side, Native Americans killed settlers (men, women, and children) coming west

in order to keep their county free. Does not the United States also have the right to defend its