Black Elk

Sioux holy man Nicholas Black Elk is shown with his grandson, George Looks Twice, in this photo that was probably taken in the late 1930s.

Courtesy photo

Native American culture and traditions will take center stage at Oglala Lakota College’s new Oglala Cultural Experience featuring a production of the play “Black Elk Speaks.”

The series of festivities begins Friday, July 29, and continues for three more weekends on the college’s administrative campus near Kyle.

Beginning at 3:30 p.m. each Friday and Saturday through Aug. 20, there will traditional Oglala hands-on activities including an art market, archery, games, beading and porcupine quill work, face painting, quilting, storytelling, dance and drumming. There is no charge for the afternoon activities.  A traditional Oglala meal will be served at 4 p.m. for $10.

Doors will open for the showing of “Black Elk Speaks” at 6:30 p.m. at OLC’s multi-purpose building.   Actors and actresses include OLC students, staff and community members.

The play is based on the 1932 book of the same name by Nebraska poet John G. Neihardt, taken from his conversations with the Oglala holy man Nicholas Black Elk, who lived from 1863 to 1950.

Black Elk said that several times during his life, he had several visions in which he learned things that would help his people. In the book, he reveals the story of his life, including his experiences at the Battle of the Little Bighorn and the Wounded Knee Massacre, and tells of Native American tribal traditions and spirituality.

During the Oglala Cultural Experience, the OLC Historical Center will stay open until 6:30 p.m. for visitors. The center contains a display of art and photographs that chronicles the history of the Oglala Lakota from the early 1800s to the Wounded Knee Massacre in 1890.OLC also hosts the Summer Artist Series at the Historical Center, promoting awareness of the arts of the Oglala Lakota on the Pine Ridge Reservation and the surrounding area. The series features 12 artists each summer. 

“This is a first for OLC, and we are excited about the event giving us the opportunity to expose the general public to the culture and traditions of the Lakota and to educate them on the deep history of the Oglala Lakota through the photos in the Historical Center,” Thomas Shortbull, president of Oglala Lakota College, said in a news release.

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“We hope to bring tourism to the Pine Ridge Reservation to expand the market for the Lakota artists, to bring national recognition to the artists, and to inspire many talented Lakota to pursue their talent in the arts,” he said.

All events will take place at OLC’s powwow grounds and the multi-purpose building at the Piya Wiconi Administrative Campus, located seven miles southwest of Kyle.  For more information, call Shortbull at 455-6022 or Marilyn E. Pourier 455-6045.

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