Indigenous Sources for Christian Worldviews and Ways of Living

In recent years many Christians have been giving new or renewed attention to religious insights and traditions of Indigenous peoples in the Americas. While some claim that Christians have much to learn from Native philosophies and spiritual practices, others reject this view, suggesting that drawing upon these Indigenous sources compromises Christian witness. Dr. Costello will discuss this controversy and explain why he believes that Christian life can be enriched through engagement with Native Americans, their worldviews, and their traditions.​

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Part 1: “The Vision and Legacy of Nicholas Black Elk” (Feb. 16, 11:45 a.m.-12:45 p.m.)

Damian Costello received his Ph.D. in theological studies from the University of Dayton and specializes in the intersection of Catholic theology, Indigenous spiritual traditions, and colonial history from a postcolonial perspective. He is an internationally-recognized expert on the life and legacy of Nicholas Black Elk and the author of Black Elk: Colonialism and Lakota Catholicism (Orbis Books, 2005). Costello’s work is informed by five years of ethnographic work on the Navajo Nation. His recent publications include “Indigenous Peoples are filling in the gaps in our Catholic faith” (America, 2019) and “Black Elk, the Lakota Medicine Man turned Catholic Teacher, is promoted for Sainthood” (America, 2017). Costello served as an academic advisor and associate producer for the documentary “Walking the Good Red Road: Nicholas Black Elk’s Journey to Sainthood” (NewGroup Media, 2020), which aired on ABC affiliates in 2020 and in which he appeared. Costello is on the faculty of the North American Institute for Indigenous Theological Studies (NAIITS), and is a founding member and the American co-chair of the Indigenous Catholic Research Fellowship (ICRF).

Sponsored and organized by the Jay Phillips Center for Interreligious Studies at the University of St. Thomas and the Jay Phillips Center for Interfaith Learning at Saint John’s University, with generous support from Jay and Rose Phillips Family Foundation of Minnesota.