I stumbled across a quote by a Native American, in reference to the events following Wounded Knee.

I think I came across it on wikipedia in one of the entries referenced from the Wounded Knee page or the Ghost dance page.

I'm not sure who was speaking but I remember that the quote mentioned that the "animals were gone", and that either the "circle was broken" or the "bow was broken" and that the person felt a devastating loneliness.

(The adjective devastating wasn't in there but the world "loneliness" definitely was.)

It's a powerful quote and I would be grateful to find it again.

  • 3
    Black Elk wrote "the nation's hoop is broken and scattered". He didn't mention animals or loneliness (explicitly) though. Jul 18, 2023 at 8:26

2 Answers 2


Although some of the specifics are different, I think you are likely remembering the conclusion of Black Elk Speaks, which is presented as the as-told-to autobiography of Nicholas Black Elk, a spiritual leader of the Lakota nation.

I did not know then how much was ended. When I look back now from this high hill of my old age, I can still see the butchered women and children lying heaped and scattered all along the crooked gulch as plain as when I saw them with eyes still young. And I can see that something else died there in the bloody mud, and was buried in the blizzard. A people’s dream died there. It was a beautiful dream.

And I, to whom so great a vision was given in my youth,—you see me now a pitiful old man who has done nothing, for the nation’s hoop is broken and scattered. There is no center any longer, and the sacred tree is dead.


In context, the quote was indeed spoken as a reaction to Wounded Knee, and (currently) appears on this Wikipedia page, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wounded_Knee_Massacre, making it more likely it was the one you saw. I thought at first you might have conflated several quotes, but I didn't see ones specifically referencing animals and "loneliness."

  • I think that I may have in fact conflated several quotes and created a false memory of a quote combining 'loneliness' and 'animals'. I'm marking this as the accepted answer, although I'm also tempted to delete the question entirely since it can't be answered as posed. :-)
    – pnadeau
    Jul 22, 2023 at 16:33

In a 1992 book by Peter Nabokov, Native American Testimony: A Chronicle of Indian-white Relations from Prophecy to the Present, 1492-1992, there is a chapter that might be what you're thinking of. A review of the book says:

The last chapter of Part One has a summary title, "The Nation's Hoop is Broken and Scattered." In it, representative voices speak: a Kiowa writes "The Buffalo Go," a Cochise " I Am Alone," Crazy Horse as an Oglala Sioux "I Have Spoken," and an Omaha speaks of "This Awful Loneliness."

From the website of the publisher of the paperback edition of the book, here is a full list of the individual writings in this chapter. Perhaps you're remembering the chapter title's "Broken and Scattered" and the writings "Gone Forever" and "This Awful Loneliness."

Chapter 9. The Nation’s Hoop is Broken and Scattered

  1. The Buffalo Go (Old Lady Horse, Kiowa)
  2. Take Care of Me (Wild Cat, Seminole)
  3. I Am Alone (Cochise, Chiricahua Apache)
  4. I Have Spoken (Crazy Horse, Oglala Sioux)
  5. I Want to Look for My Children (Chief Joseph, Nez Percé)
  6. No Dawn to the East (Anonymous, tribe unknown)
  7. Gone Forever (Buffalo Bird Woman, Hidatsa)
  8. This Awful Loneliness (Anonymous, Omaha)
  9. A Wish (Flint Knife, Blackfoot)

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.