. . . At the age of about ten, Black Elk was present at the Battle of Little Bighorn. How would General George Custer have responded if he’d been told that one of the greatest American spiritual visionaries of all time was among the Indians he was riding toward and hoping to destroy? What would his troopers—many of them Irishmen, and presumably Catholics—have said if they had been told that one of the children in the Sioux camp would someday be a candidate for sainthood in their church? Of course, Custer and his men had more immediate surprises to worry about. To Neihardt, Black Elk described details of their historic defeat:
There was a soldier on the ground and he was still kicking. A Lakota [Sioux] rode up and said to me, ‘Boy, get off and scalp him.’ I got off and started to do it. He had short hair and my knife was not very sharp. He ground his teeth. Then I shot him in the forehead and got his scalp. . . . After awhile [on the battlefield] I got tired looking around. I could smell nothing but blood, and I got sick of it. So I went back home with some others. I was not sorry at all. I was a happy boy.