Native American Day Lecture on Life and Legacy of Nicholas Black Elk

Nicholas Black Elk

Event Details


Date: October 14, 2019

Times: 4 p.m.

Location: 3-in-1 Room of Morrison Commons

Ticket Info: Free and open to the public.

Dr. Damian Costello, an internationally recognized expert on the life and legacy of Nicholas Black Elk, will discuss "Nicholas Black Elk: Lakota Medicine Man, Christian Teacher, and Possible Saint" at 4 p.m. Monday, Oct. 14, in the 3-in-1 Room of Morrison Commons.

The event is co-sponsored by Augustana Campus Ministry and AU's Center for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Everyone is welcome to join us.

When Christians think of Native Americans, we typically think of missions, of bringing the Gospel to non-Christian people. This presentation is about the opposite: a Native American Christian bringing the Gospel to non-Natives in unexpected ways.

Few Native American elders have achieved the global iconic status of Nicholas Black Elk.

Nicholas Black Elk gained his fame as the subject of the spiritual classic "Black Elk Speaks," the story of his first 25 years. In the book, readers learn that Black Elk was a second cousin of Crazy Horse, fought in the Battle of Little Bighorn and the Massacre at Wounded Knee, and served his people as a traditional healer. Many are only now learning that Black Elk spent the majority of his life as a prominent Christian leader attributed with bringing over 400 people to the faith. We will explore how Black Elk's vision of universal healing in the face of global problems of violence and environmental destruction is integrally related to his Christian faith; in other words, an ongoing Native Christian "mission" to the contemporary world.

About Dr. Damian Costello

Dr. Costello received his Ph.D. in theological studies from the University of Dayton and specializes in the intersection of Catholic theology, Indigenous spiritual traditions, and colonial history. He is an international expert on the life and legacy of Nicholas Black Elk and the author of "Black Elk: Colonialism and Lakota Catholicism," and has served as the advisor and consultant to documentary projects on Black Elk. Costello's writing, research and advocacy is informed by five years of ethnographic study among the people of the Navajo nation.