Black Elk Speaks as told through John. Neihardt, has an important message, on many different levels, even to the non-native reader. Black Elk's main philosophy was that life was a circle; he came to understand this through experience and his visions. Black Elk say, "You have noticed that everything an Indian does is in a circle, and that is because the Power of the World always works in circles, and everything tries to be round." All things good are of a circle. Such as, the circle of life is round. The Sun and the Moon. The Sky and the Earth. The bird's nest and the tree's trunk are round. .
In Chapter 17, Black Elk tells about how there " power is not in us [them] anymore." Black Elk is expressing his concern for the loss of the power that can only be found in circles. He recalls the many ways in which circles influence the Power of the World, and now the Wasichus (the term for the White man) have put them in the square houses thus taking their power away. "We made these little gray houses of logs that you see, and they are square. It is a bad way to live, for there can be no power in a square." .
As is expressed in much of the novel, Black Elk describes the loss that his people are being forced to accept. He says, "In the old days when we [they] were a strong and happy people, all our [their] power came to us [them] from the sacred hoop of the nation, and so long as the hoop was unbroken, the people flourished." In this Black Elk reports that in the old days his people were strong and happy due to the power from the sacred circle. However, now the hoop has been ruptured, thus causing unhappiness and frailty. His people are no longer flourishing in the ways that used to bring strength to the circle. .
In truth, Black Elk says, "Our power is gone and we are dying, for the power is not in us anymore. You can look at our boys and see how it is with us. When we were living by the power of the circle in they way we should, boys were men at twelve or thirteen years of ago.