In his book Black Elk Speaks, author John Neihardt interviewed a Lakota holy man who recounted pre-reservation life and events he witnessed, including Custer’s Last Stand and the Wounded Knee massacre. Later, anthropologist Joseph Epes Brown interviewed Black Elk about Lakota religious traditions for his book The Sacred Pipe (1953). Both works are touched with a certain sadness, that of a man whose best days have passed. Together they introduced millions to the richness of Native American traditions.But Black Elk’s prestige among his own people had little to do with these books. It was based more on his ministry as a Catholic catechist on South Dakota reservations. A convert to Catholicism, for nearly fifty years he helped prepared people for baptism, led prayer meetings, organized events for Native American Catholics, and worked as a lay missionary to the Lakota (also called Sioux).