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Nicholas Black Elk: Walking the Good Red Road

“There can never be peace between nations until there is first known that true peace which is within the souls of men.”

- Black Elk

Heȟáka Sápa, commonly known as Black Elk, was a medicine man of the Oglala Lakota people who lived from c.1863 -1950 on South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Reservation. Following the death of his first wife he was baptized as a Catholic, learned to read, and became a popular catechist who melded his indigenous traditions with those of Christianity.

As a social commentator, he is globally seen today as a teacher of what was lost, and an alternative and oppositional voice to the forces of industrialization and colonialism. His cause for Catholic sainthood was introduced in the Diocese of Rapid City, South Dakota, in 2017.

Explore the lessons and wisdom from Black Elk's legacy.

Monday, October 4, 2021
Offered twice, 10:00am—11:15am and 6:30pm—7:45pm
Free will offering accepted.

Registration for this retreat has closed.


This program is supported by the following collaborators: Racine Dominicans, Dominican Center for Justice Resources, Racine Interfaith Coalition (RIC) and Congregations United to Serve Humanity (CUSH).

Funded in part by a grant from Wisconsin Humanities, with funds from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Wisconsin Humanities strengthens the roots of community life through educational and cultural programs that inspire civic participation and individual imagination.

Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this project do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Mark G. Thiel is an Emeritus Archivist of Marquette University's Raynor Memorial Libraries Special Collections and Archives where he administered its Native Catholic collections containing images and documents by and about Nicholas Black Elk. Mark is an advocate for Black Elk’s cause for sainthood.

Rev. Edward J. Cook is a priest of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. As pastor he has served the Congregation of the Great Spirit, a Catholic American Indian church in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, since its founding in 1989.