'One Book' choice offers old insight into current issues

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Protests over the Dakota Access Pipeline picked up, with gusto where the Keystone XL protests left off, only backing off slightly when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers denied a construction easement under the Missouri River in the final months of the Obama Administration.

The controversies are not dead, however, as one or both may be revived under the incoming Trump presidency.

Environmentalists characterize the pipelines threats to groundwater and as a way to undermine the transition away from fossil fuels, forming alliances with Native Americans who say they will encroach on ancient burial grounds.

It's a conflict that has been going on for centuries on the Great Plains, and whatever your opinion, it's an opportunity to reflect on the underlying issues involved.

With 2017 the 150th anniversary of Nebraska (not to mention the 135th anniversary of the founding of McCook), this year's "One Book, One Nebraska" selection is especially relevant.

Gov. Pete Ricketts signed a proclamation Monday designating "Black Elk Speaks" by John G. Neihardt as the "one book" for this year.

A teenage participant in the battle of the Greasy Grass -- more commonly known as Custer's Last Stand at the Little Big Horn -- Nicholas Black Elk was an Oglala Lakota visionary and healer immortalized in John G. Neihardt's classic 1932 book.

A professor of poetry at the University of Nebraska, many of us first became acquainted with him and his work through 1971 and 1972 appearances on the Dick Cavett Show, which renewed interest in Black Elk Speaks.

"This transcendent tale is a true gift -- created from a remarkable past so we might better understand the present, it continues to inform and inspire the future as each generation takes its turn through the pages," said Amy Kucera, Executive Director at the John G. Neihardt State Historic Site.

As a state and nation, it's more important than ever that we consider the past as we make decisions that affect our future and that of our children and grandchildren.

Books like Black Elk Speaks are a good place to start.

Neihardt's book is only one of 150 chosen to highlight the 150th year celebration of Nebraska's statehood. Check out the complete list at http://nebraska150books.org

NET Nebraska's "Ron Hull Remembers" features a segment on the Dick Cavett broadcasts, available on YouTueb at https://youtu.be/hRkbhlzV0bI\

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