Papers of a teacher-scholar known for her reflections on the saintly Oglala Indian holy man, Nicholas Black Elk. She herself was a Hunkpapa Indian from North Dakota who became a religious sisters of the Sisters of St. Francis of Penance and Christian Charity. Gift of Marie Therese Archambault and the Sacred Heart Province, Sisters of St. Francis of Penance and Christian Charity, Denver, Colorado, 2008. Processed by Mark G. Thiel, 2008.

Restrictions: Except as noted below, there are no restrictions to the use of papers in this collection. However, the researcher assumes full responsibility for conforming with the laws of libel, privacy, and copyright which may be involved in the use of these records. Consult an archivist for further information. 


Biographical Note

Sister Marie Therese Archambault (1939-2007), O.S.F., lived her life as teacher, scholar, spiritual director, writer, and a Franciscan formation minister, all of which flowed from her family roots and Hunkpapa Lakota Indian culture and her profound Christian faith and Franciscan call. At times she experienced intense inter-cultural and religious conflict and depression from the intolerance of some Church leaders towards Native American culture and beliefs. Nonetheless, the thrust of her ministry was to incorporate indigenous religious heritage and traditions into the Church's life and to help Native Americans integrate their Native and Catholic identities and spirituality.

Born in 1939, she was named "Ida" and became the eldest of four children from a rural North Dakota family. She attended the St. Francis Mission High School, St. Francis, Rosebud Reservation, South Dakota, and graduated in 1957. That same year she joined the Sisters of St. Francis of Penance and Christian Charity in Denver. She earned first a Bachelor of the Arts degree from Regis University in Denver, and then four Masters of the Arts degrees and a Licentiate from various institutions of higher education in Rome and the United States.

Sister Marie Therese was perhaps best known for her 1998 book, A Retreat with Black Elk: Living in the Sacred Hoop. She identified strongly with the saintly Oglala holy man, Nicholas Black Elk, whose life she reflected on and talked about during many of the retreats she conducted for others.

Besides her studies and teaching, Marie Therese also served the Tekakwitha Conference. From 1992-1995, she served as its urban outreach facilitator. In so doing, she visited urban Native Catholic parishes and ministries and promoted lay parish leadership and the use of native languages and cultural traditions within the Christian context. From 2004 to 2007 Sister Marie Therese created the first draft towards a revised Family and Teaching Guide Workbook with a 12 book series of work-color books for preparing Native American children for First Communion.

Sr. Marie Therese Archambault's correspondence and draft publications for the Tekakwitha Conference were separated from this collection and transferred to the Tekakwitha Conference records.


Scope and Content

The bicultural religious thinking of Sr. Marie Therese Archambault is reflected throughout her papers.

Marie Therese Archambault, O.S.F., Papers Series 1, Auto/Biographical Papers: These papers include several documents about her educational activities, a sound disc with an audio autobiography titled, Personal Story -- Sister Marie Therese Archambault, O.S.F., 1993, and a photograph dated ca. 1963. The sound recording is part of the "World Wisdom Series" of the Sisters and Associates of St. Francis of Penance and Christian Charity, Sacred Heart Province. Other Marquette collections include additional photographs of Marie Therese Archambault.

The Holy Rosary Mission - Red Cloud Indian School Digital Image Collection features pictures with Marie Therese Archambault as the subject.

Marie Therese Archambault, O.S.F., Papers Series 2, Correspondence: Primarily letters to/ from Sr. Marie Therese and sisters of Sacred Heart Province, friends, and relatives. Besides Marie Therese, notable correspondents include Sr. Mary Carroll, O.S.F., Bishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap. (then Bishop of Rapid City, now Archbishop of Philadelphia), and Sr. Cecilia Linenbrink, O.S.F.


Marie Therese Archambault, O.S.F., Papers Series 3, Class Papers: Papers written as academic projects and essay examinations and syllabi for courses taught. The academic projects and essay pertain to courses at St. Mary's University (San Antonio), Pontificia Universitas Gregoriana (Rome), Pontifical Biblical Institute (Rome), the University of Colorado (Boulder), and unidentified institutions. At Boulder, she studied under professors Vine Deloria, Jr., and Sam Gill, where her papers focused on the history of relationships between Christianity and Native Americans. St. Francis Mission and/or Eugene Buechel, S.J., on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota are the subjects of several papers. At previous institutions her studies focused on European Christian spirituality and history, with an emphasis on saints Francis of Assisi and Ignatius of Loyola. The syllabi were created for a course on tribal government taught at Sitting Bull College (Standing Rock Indian Reservation, Fort Yates, North Dakota) and an introductory course on Native American studies taught at Metropolitan College (Denver).

 Other class papers include her University of Colorado M.A. thesis, "Back to Back:" Roman Catholicism among the Brule at St. Francis Mission, South Dakota, E99.B8 A72 1995, in St. Francis Mission Records, Series 8.

Marie Therese Archambault, O.S.F., Papers Series 4, Oral Presentations: Talks written for homilies, retreats, and other gatherings that pertain to Franciscan heritage, the legacies of St. Francis and Nicholas Black Elk, Native American - Christian relationships, and the roles of indigenous women.

Marie Therese Archambault, O.S.F., Papers Series 5, Non-published Writings: These writings were not known to have been published, but at least a few were so intended as suggested by endnotes. A number of them pertain to health and wellness issues.

Marie Therese Archambault, O.S.F., Papers Series 6, Published Writings: Includes copies of several published articles plus the monograph, A Literary Collection of the Sisters and Associates of St. Francis of Penance and Christian Charity, Sacred Heart Province, 2008, coedited by Marie Therese with Antonia Anthony. These writings reflect Marie Therese's bicultural thinking regarding Christian and Native American religious traditions, especially the legacies of Francis of Assisi and Nicholas Black Elk.

Other published writings include A Retreat with Black Elk: Living in the Sacred Hoop, BX2375 .A73 1998, in St. Francis Mission Records, Series 8, and The Crossing of Two Roads: Being Catholic and Native in the United States (co-edited with Mark G. Thiel and Christopher Vecsey), E98.R3 C76 2003, in Bureau of Catholic Indian Missions Records, Series 14-1.



More Related Resources

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

  • Search the Collections (sidebar)
  • Guides to Catholic-Related Records about Native Americans in the United States: Over 1,000 repository entries in PDF format to help genealogists and historical researchers find the records they need on American Indians and Alaskan Natives. The entries provide contact information on the repositories, brief descriptions about the records, the Native groups served, and the associated Catholic organizations. Many of the entries include institutional chronologies to explain the history of the records.

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