Marshall Fredricks Museum hosts “Black Elk” author

A sculpture of Black Elk sits outside the Marshall Fredricks Museum. Courtesy Photo

On Nov. 17, SVSU and the Marshall M Fredericks Museum hosted Father Michael Steltenkamp. He is known for writing books on Black Elk. Those books include: “Black Elk: Holy Man of the Oglala” and “Nicholas Black Elk: Medicine Man, Missionary, Mystic.”

Steltenkamp earned his PhD at Michigan State University before going on to become a Professor of Anthropology and Religious Studies at Wheeling Jesuit University.

Most of his books center around Black Elk, who was a “medicine man” of the Oglala Lakota people.

He was a young man in 1876 and witnessed first-hand the Battle of Little Bighorn. He toured with the Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show before returning to Pine Ridge Reservation.

He is best known for the interviews he did with poet John Neihardt. In these interviews, he talked about his religious views, visions, and his life experiences.

SVSU features a statue on campus of Black Elk which was created by Marshall Fredericks.

Father Michael Steltenkamp, Author of Black
Elk books.
Courtesy Photo

The event, which was organized by SVSU student Lindsey Somero and overseen by Associate Professor of History Jules Gehrke, gave students the opportunity to talk to Steltenkamp and ask questions Curator of Education Andrea Ondish thinks this was a great opportunity for students.

“Programs like this give students, like Lindsey, the chance to coordinate events, learn about how history, politics, art and other curricula all connect and to create powerful statements and conversations,” she said. “They also learn how to emotionally and intelligently discuss issues presented in the exhibitions from different points of views. Art is more than just aesthetics.”

The museum also has an exhibit right now focusing on native art and the impact of nuclear testing on their environment. The exhibit is called “Exposure: Native Art and Political Ecology” and will be at the museum until Dec. 10.

Ondish said the museum will offer
more programs like this in the future.

“The Museum will offer more programs like this one for all students, faculty, staff and the public to learn from and share,” she said. “You can keep informed of them by viewing our calendar of events on our website.”

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