We are unable to display your institutional affiliation without JavaScript turned on.
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

Find using OpenURL

American Indian Sainthood and the Catholic Church

From: American Catholic Studies
Volume 124, Number 1, Spring 2013
pp. 95-106 | 10.1353/acs.2013.0001



Recent decades have witnessed Indian participation diminish within Christian churches. This trend underscores the importance of Kateri Tekakwitha's canonization on October 21, 2012. It was a long overdue acknowledgement of the sanctity that is just as evident within Native North American populations as it is among others. With Indian America now having a woman saint, a male counterpart ought to be close behind her. Nicholas Black Elk is the pre-eminent candidate for this honor. Probably better known than Kateri, Black Elk's popular "life story" was published in 1932, and reprinted many times in at least eleven languages. It was not known until the end of the twentieth century, however, that most of the man's life had gone unreported. Unknown to readers was that Black Elk had been a devout Catholic catechist for close to fifty years. It was this role for which his people held him in high esteem (400 of them baptized because of his missionary labors). In the event Black Elk is canonized, the church can be indicted for doing too little too late. Had it acted more quickly, the church might have provided balance to an Indian cultural resurgence that included heavy doses of anti-Christian rhetoric that encouraged many to forsake affiliation with faith communities.

You must be logged in through an institution that subscribes to this journal or book to access the full text.


Shibboleth authentication is only available to registered institutions.

Project MUSE

For subscribing associations only.