Nicholas Black Elk

Nicholas Black Elk

Nicholas Black Elk (December 1, 1863 – August 19, 1950) was a holy man of the Oglala Lakota people born in southwest South Dakota.  He was a second cousin of the war leader Crazy Horse.

Black Elk's first wife Katie converted to Roman Catholicism, and they had their three children baptized as Catholics. After Katie's death, in 1904 Black Elk, then in his 40s, converted to Catholicism and took the name Nicholas as his Christian name.  He also became a catechist, teaching others about Christianity and how to pray the Rosary.  In August 2016, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rapid City opened an official cause for his beatification within the Roman Catholic Church.

On October 21, 2017, the cause for canonization for Nicholas Black Elk was formally opened by the Catholic Diocese of Rapid City, South Dakota, paving the way for the possibility of him eventually being recognized as a saint. He is now designated as a "Servant of God", a title indicating that his life and works are being investigated by the Pope and the Catholic Church for possible canonization.  His work to share the Gospel with Native and non-Native people and harmonize the faith with Lakota culture were noted at the Mass.  Black Elk is buried near St Agnes Church in Manderson, SD on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, a part of the Jesuits Midwest Missions. 

On this page are links to more information, other sites, and a prayer for the cause of his canonization.

Fr. Fairbanks Trip to South Dakota with Jesuit pastors

Brochure about Nicholas Black Elk

Prayer card

Catholic article about Black Elk

Catholic news item about Nicholas Black Elk

Marquette University profile