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).
God is bread when you’re hungry, water when you’re thirsty, a harbor from the storm. God’s father to the fatherless, a mother to the motherless. God’s my sister, my brother, my leader, my guide, my teacher, my comforter, my friend. God’s the way-maker and burden-bearer, a heart-fixer and a mind-regulator. God’s my doctor who never lost a patient, my lawyer who never lost a case, my captain who never lost a battle. God’s my all in all, my everything.
God’s my rock, my sword, my shield, my lily of the valley, my pearl of great price. God’s a god of peace and a god of war. Counselor, Emmanuel, Redeemer, Savior, Prince of Peace, Son of God, Mary’s little baby, wonderful Word of God.
Thea Bowman (1937–1990) was a Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration born in Mississippi.
The Netflix movie begins with the line “inspired by true events,” but it shows a huge number of things that never happened, from Cardinal Bergoglio offering his resignation in person to Benedict playing jazz piano.