Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

Fall 2008


Great Plains Quarterly Volume 28, Number 4, Fall 2008, pp. 329


Copyright 2008 by the Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


The literature on Native American dispossession grows with every year, and there are times when the historiography of the American West seems in danger of becoming repetitive. Lakotas, Black Robes, and Holy Women addresses this problem by revealing untapped sources and new perspectives on the West as the Great Plains increasingly fell under US. control.

This monograph focuses on the Catholic missions in South Dakota-the Holy Rosary Mission on the Pine Ridge Reservation and the St. Francis Mission on the adjoining Rosebud Reservation-during the critical years of 1886-1900. Staffed by a handful of Jesuits and Franciscan sisters, many of whom were directly from Germany, these missionaries worked to Christianize and "civilize" the Lakotas. Teaching the young at Indian schools, and administering the sacraments to converts, the missionaries were eyewitnesses to the Ghost Dance on the Pine Ridge Reservation and the tragedy of Wounded Knee.