Wednesday, October 19, 2016


Robert Lentz
Our past few Blogs have dealt with people of color in the United States. The following traces his heritage back to the beginning of our country, and a  man whom we all treasure..  
BLACK ELK (Heȟáka Sápa)  was born  along the Little Powder River (at a site thought to be in the present-day state of Wyoming) in 1863. According to the Lakota way of measuring time (referred to as Winter counts), Black Elk was born "the Winter When the Four Crows Were Killed on Tongue River".

Curious about Christianity, he began to watch and study. In 1885, he learned about Kateri Tekakwitha and signed the petition supporting the cause for her canonization. In 1904, he met a Jesuit priest who invited him to study Christianity at Holy Rosary Mission, near Pine Ridge, South Dakota.
 On the feast of St. Nicholas, December 6, he was baptized Nicholas William. St. Nicholas, appealed to him because he exhibited a model of Christian charity that resonated with his role as a traditional spiritual leader and his own generosity in service to the Native People.
Wife & daughter
Believing that Wakantanka, the Great Spirit, called him to greater service, he became a Christian and practiced his Lakota ways as well as the Catholic religion. He was comfortable praying with his pipe and his rosary and participated in Mass and Lakota ceremonies on a regular basis.

In 1907 the Jesuits appointed him a catechist because of his love of Christ, his enthusiasm and excellent memory for learning scripture and Church teachings. Like St. Paul, he traveled widely to various reservations; preaching, sharing stories and teaching the Catholic faith with his “Two Roads Model” of catechism. He is attributed to having over 400 native people baptized, and since then his books and model lifestyle have inspired countless others in their spiritual journeys.
He died in 1950 having lived an exemplary life of being faithful to Tunkasila (The Creator) and always wanting to serve the native people.
There are many Natives who are waiting to share the joy of the day when Nicholas Black Elk, Sr. will be counted among the company of saints by Holy Mother Church.

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