FoC 149: The Life and Faith of Nicholas Black Elk with Dr. Damian Costello

01.26.2021 - By The Fountains of Carrots Podcast

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For a couple of years, we’ve been fascinated by the story of Servant of God Nicholas Black Elk, a Lakota holy man and Catholic convert and catechist. We’ve wanted to learn more about this intriguing figure and we’re thrilled to have the chance to talk to Dr. Damian Costello about his incredible life and legacy.

Dr. Damian Costello received his PhD in theological studies from the University of Dayton and specializes in the intersection of Catholic theology, Indigenous spiritual traditions, and colonial history. He is an international expert on the life and legacy of Nicholas Black Elk and the author of Black Elk: Colonialism and Lakota Catholicism. Costello’s work is informed by five years of ethnographic work on the Navajo Nation. He served as an academic advisor, associate producer, and appeared in the documentary “Walking the Good Red Road: Nicholas Black Elk’s Journey to Sainthood,” which aired on ABC affiliates this spring. Costello is on the faculty of NAIITS, the North American Institute for Indigenous Theological Studies, and is a founding member and the American co-chair of the Indigenous Catholic Research Fellowship (ICRF).

In this episode, Dr. Costello shares about the incredible life of Nicholas Black Elk, his cause for canonization, and the impact of his spiritual legacy. We talk about visions, the incredible mystical events surrounding this holy man’s death and burial, and so much more!

So grab a cup of coffee and enjoy learning about this amazing servant of God.

Things we talked about today:

(Amazon affiliate links)

Black Elk: Colonialism and Lakota Catholicism by Damian Costello

Black Elk: Holy Man of the Oglala by Michael F. Steltenkamp

Black Elk Speaks by John Neihardt

Nicholas Black Elk: Medicine Man, Catechist, and Saint by Jon Sweeney

More Resources:

Nicholas Black Elk’s gift of sweetgrass

Indigenous peopless are filling in the gaps of our Catholic faith

Bishop Barron’s short YouTube video about Nicholas Black Elk and the importance of catechists


Today’s episode is sponsored by The St. Paul Center of Biblical Theology and their new release Where Is Jesus Hidden? by Maura Roan McKeegan

In Where is Jesus Hidden?, award-winning author Maura Roan McKeegan points to the many places and ways Jesus can...

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