Photographs, interviews, and background documentation about notable Native Americans, primarily from South Dakota, who were engaged in their Dakota-Lakota cultural reawakening, 1960s-1970s. Most materials were compiled for the book, Vision Quest: Men, Women, and Sacred Sites of the Sioux Nation. School fund raising calendars from Red Cloud Indian School (Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, South Dakota) and St. Augustine School (Winnebago Indian Reservation, Nebraska) are also included.

Gift from Rev. Don Doll, S.J., 2004. Processed by Mark G. Thiel, Tamara Lange, and student assistants, 2004-2005.

Biographical Note

Rev. Donald A. Doll (1937-), S.J. is an internationally acclaimed Jesuit priest, who found his pathway to God through photography. Whether Native American or Africans, his elegant and compassionate images tell the stories of people without voices, so that others understand and work to change unjust social structures.

In 1962, as an earnest young Jesuit from Milwaukee, "Father Don" began to teach seventh and eighth-grade students at the St. Francis Mission School on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in south-central South Dakota, which then, was a boarding school. He was well-liked and remembered, not only as a teacher, but as a championship-winning basketball coach. In so doing, he was introduced to photography, and felt compelled to chronicle their stories through images because he respected and cared about them.

Seven years later, Doll transferred to Creighton University (Omaha) where he hoped to teach photography. He was told he would have to teach psychology because no funds were available for a darkroom. Since he regarded the teaching of psychology as boring, he said he'd rather leave the university to pursue a master of fine arts in photography. But then, funds were found, he stayed, and he has since served as a professor of journalism in the Charles and Mary Heider Jesuit Chair.

In 1974, while on sabbatical, Fr. Don returned to the Rosebud settlement of Spring Creek (population 175) where he photographed the people during their daily lives, which resulted in his first book, A Call to Vision (1976). The previous year's American Indian Movement occupation of the Wounded Knee settlement (also in South Dakota on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation) remained vivid in people's memories, which spurred Doll to produce provocative images that revealed his affection for the people and their comfort with him. These he photographed in black and white. But he soon realized that such views evoked the past whereas color photography evoked the present and acknowledged them as contemporary people, as seen in his second book, Vision Quest: Men, Women and Sacred Sites of the Sioux Nation (1994), which encompassed people from the entire Dakota/ Lakota Nation. His final book, A Call to Vision, A Jesuit's Perspective on the World (2012), covers 50 years of his work, detailing t he story of his 'vocation within a vocation' as a Jesuit photographer with selections from his early work with Native Americans and his later work with Hospice care and Jesuits around the world. Other works have been featured in National Geographic ("Hunters of the Being Sea," June 1984, and "The Athabascans along the Yukon," February 1990) eight Day in the Life of… books, including America, California, Italy, Ireland, Passage to Vietnam, and Christmas in America, and "A Photographer and a Prayer," Lens blog The New York Times (Oct. 19, 2012) with a selection of Alaska and South Dakota Native American people, plus an essay about his art and religious vocation. He continues to photograph native youth in traditional dress and in vivid color for fundraising calendars at Red Cloud Indian School on Pine Ridge and St. Augustine School on the Winnebago Reservation in Nebraska.

Over the years, Doll's awards have included the Kodak Crystal Eagle Award for Impact in Photojournalism (1997), the "Artist of the Year" at the Nebraska Governor's Awards luncheon sponsored by the Nebraska Arts Council (2006), and the International Understanding through Photography Award of the Photographic Society of America (2014).

In 2008, Doll served as the Marquette University Wade Scholar Lecturer. In conjunction, the Marquette Haggerty Museum presented "The Grandeur of God": Photographs by Don Doll, S.J. The exhibition included a selection of his Native American images, panoramas along the Lewis and Clark Trail, and Jesuits assisting refugees in Africa, Asia, and Europe. The title was inspired by the poem, "God's Grandeur," by Gerard Manley Hopkins, 1877.

Scope and Content

The Rev. Don Doll, S.J., Collection includes publications by Doll plus his documentation for the book, Vision Quest: Men, Women and Sacred Sites of the Sioux Nation.

Series 2 and Series 3, the Vision Quest Project: These series pertain to the Vision Quest project with material about 82 prominent Dakota-Lakota Indians from South Dakota, Minnesota, and North Dakota, all of who were active in their cultural reawakening of the 1970s and 1980s. By format it is divided into four sub-series with black and white color photographic prints, color transparencies, interview recordings, and transcripts with related news clippings. There under the sub-series arrangements are alphabetical by surname as noted below with specific Dakota-Lakota ethnic affiliation. Where pertinent, more details are noted.

Some papers pertaining to most participants have not been processed.

The Vision Quest Project: Participants and Related Papers 

Don Doll, S.J. Collection (Series 0-3)

Related Resources

Native America Collections: Checklist to Marquette special collections about native peoples of the Western Hemisphere.

Guides to Catholic-Related Records about Native Americans in the United States: Over 1,000 repository entries in PDF format about holdings outside of Marquette's Special Collections.  Entries provide contact information on the repositories, brief descriptions about the records, the Native groups served, and the associated Catholic organizations.

Black and Indian Mission Office Bureau of Catholic Indian Missions

Tekakwitha Conference National Center

U.S. Catholic Conference of Catholic Bishops Cultural Diversity in the Church