Features > Holy man from the Badlands

12 September 2018 | by Jon M. Sweeney

Holy man from the Badlands

Holy man from the Badlands

Nicholas Black Elk teaches a young Native American girl how to pray the Rosary

Catholicism and the Sioux


I recently returned from a family holiday in the Black Hills and Badlands of South Dakota. We went for the hot springs, the buffalo and prairie dogs – and to see where the most enigmatic of Native Americans, Black Elk, spent much of his life: the devastation that is Pine Ridge Reservation.

As you travel south into the Rez, you enter Kyle, population 840. There, the aptly named Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church sits across a dusty road from Little Wound High School. A sign states proudly, “Home of the Mustangs” football team. Nothing else is proud about this place.


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