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“Black Elk Speaks” to be discussed at Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre

The story of Nicholas Black Elk as related by author John Neihardt will be discussed at the Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre on Tuesday, Oct. 10.

The discussion of Neihardt’s book “Black Elk Speaks” will be led by humanities scholar Jace DeCory, assistant professor emeritus at Black Hills State University in Spearfish. The program will begin at 7 p.m. CDT.

“Taking place the day after Native American Day in South Dakota, this is an opportunity to learn more about Lakota visionary and healer Nicholas Black Elk,” said Michael Lewis, president of the South Dakota Historical Society Foundation, the nonprofit fundraising partner of the South Dakota State Historical Society.

Amy Kucera is also going to speak about the John G. Neihardt Foundation and State Historic Site in Bancroft, Neb. She is the former director of that site and now works for the South Dakota Historical Society Press at the Cultural Heritage Center.

The foundation and the As the Pages Turn Book Club in Pierre are sponsoring the free program, made possible by a grant from the South Dakota Humanities Council, an affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Everyone is welcome to attend.

“Hehaka Sapa – Black Elk, is one of the most influential and celebrated Oglala Lakota individuals of all time,” DeCory said. “Black Elk’s teachings and experiences should be shared and discussed in order to better understand his spiritual legacy as a holy man. As an early cultural mediator, Black Elk continues to give special insights into Lakota culture and people.”

In the 1930s, Nebraska poet John Neihardt traveled to the Pine Ridge Reservation in search of material for his epic poem about the history of the American West. Black Elk shared his visions with Neihardt because he wished to pass along some reality of Oglala life, stated Vine Deloria Jr. in the book’s forward. “Black Elk Speaks” is a resource for those who want to study Oglala Lakota culture and for American Indian young people who are searching for their roots.

DeCory retired last spring after teaching at BHSU since January 1984. She was affiliated with the School of Math & Social Science, College of Liberal Arts, teaching primarily American Indian studies courses. She was recognized as Distinguished Faculty for 2014 and gave the commencement address on May 9, 2015.

DeCory gives presentations on a variety of topics, including cultural awareness, Lakota culture, philosophy and the role of American Indian women. She has served as an educational consultant for numerous museums and businesses.

The South Dakota Humanities Council has provided copies of “Black Elk Speaks” for loan. People may check them out from the Cultural Heritage Center and return them after the program. “Black Elk Speaks” and other books about Black Elk are available for sale at the Heritage Store at the Cultural Heritage Center.

Please call 605-773-6006 for more information about the program.

About the South Dakota State Historical Society
The South Dakota State Historical Society is a division of the Department of Education. The State Historical Society, an Affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, is headquartered at the South Dakota Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre. The center houses the society’s world-class museum, the archives, and the historic preservation, publishing and administrative/development offices. Call 605-773-3458 or visit for more information. The society also has an archaeology office in Rapid City; call 605-394-1936 for more information.

About the South Dakota Historical Society Foundation
The South Dakota Historical Society Foundation is a private charitable nonprofit that seeks funding to assist the South Dakota State Historical Society in programming and projects to preserve South Dakota’s history and heritage for future generations.

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