ST. FRANCIS MISSION RECORDS Medicine Men and Clergy Dialogue

From 1973 through 1978, Reverend William F. Stolzman was a Jesuit priest ministering to Native American people on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota. With funding from the Jesuit Council for Theological Reflection, and collaboration with local medicine men and clergy, he organized this historic Dakota-Christian theological dialogue at St. Francis Mission (St. Francis, South Dakota), which comprised 84 weekly evening dinner meetings. In so doing, he organized and hosted its meetings, directed the discussions, and analyzed the data from his Roman Catholic-Christian perspective, which culminated in his 1986 book, The Pipe and Christ: A Christian-Sioux Dialogue.

The medicine men were loosely affiliated with a Medicine Men Association, which they organized and disbanded shorty before and after the meetings. By one count, their numbers comprised up to 40 people, which included two Oglala Dakota [Lakota] and 26 Brulé Dakota medicine men and associates (spouses). Among them were Moses Big Crow (Brulé), Wallace Black Elk (Oglala), Ben Black Bear, Sr. (Brulé) and Iva Black Bear (Brulé), Joseph Black Tomahawk (Brulé) and Laura Black Tomahawk (Brulé), Elizabeth Clifford (Oglala), Henry Crow Dog (Brulé), Leonard Crow Dog (Brulé), George Eagle Elk (Brulé), Joseph Eagle Elk (Brulé), John Fire Lame Deer (Brulé), Ellis Head (Brulé), Charles Kills Enemy (Brulé), Charles Little Eagle (Brulé), Fred Little Elk (Brulé), Jane Marshall (Brulé), Frank Picket Pin (Brulé), Norbert Running (Brulé), Arthur Running Horse (Brulé) and Lucille Running Horse (Brulé), Rudy Runs Alone (Brulé), Bill Schweigman (Brulé), Robert Stead (Brulé), Marie Two Charge (Brulé), Julie Walking Eagle (Brulé), Shelbert White Bear (Brulé), and Gilbert Yellow Hawk (Brulé).

The clergy participants included at least 12 Jesuit priests and permanent deacons. Among them Father Stolzman, Father Robert (Bob) Demeyer, S.J., Father Barney Fagan, S.J., and Deacon Ben Black Bear, Jr. (Brulé).

To maximize participation, the medicine men and associates spoke only Dakota [Lakota] whereas the priests spoke only English. The translators included Moses Big Crow, Deacon Ben Black Bear, Jr., and Jane Marshall.

The original record comprises eight open reel and 233 audio cassette sound recordings (St. Francis Mission Records, Series 9) and approximately 1,000 pages of transcripts (St. Francis Mission Records, Series 7) plus related but dispersed drafts and presentations (Holy Rosary Mission - Red Cloud Indian School Records, Series 7 and 9, and St. Francis Mission Records, Series 7 and 9). The sound recordings capture both languages in their entirety whereas the transcripts contain only English with Dakota retained for identifying key terms, which Stolzman defines in The Pipe and Christ.

For identification, Stolzman numbered the meetings sequentially from one to 88 with the exception of meetings 4, 6-7, 31, and 47 which were not held, typically because of bad weather. Since each meeting included up to five recordings, he further identified the original recordings with letter suffixes to identify each one and their sequence within the meetings. The mission staff produced the transcripts averaging 12 pages/ meeting for all but the last 10 meetings, which were not transcribed.

For access and preservation, the Marquette Archives staff copied and indexed the transcripts, 1992, reformatted the sound recordings to wav files, 2012-2013, and copied the transcripts to PDF, 2015.

Meetings by Year (4, 6-7, 31, 47 not held)

Year Meetings Total
1973 1-3, 5 4
1974 8-16 9
1975 17-30, 32-34 17
1976 35-46 18
1977 54-71 18
1978 72-88 17


Meetings by Topic (79-88 not transcribed and not included)

Topics Meetings

Making Relatives (Adoption)

28-30, 32-35

Sun Dance


Sweat Bath (Inipi or Sweat Lodge)

1-3, 5, 14-19, 35-38, 41, 44, 63

Vision Quest and Making of a Woman

1, 5, 24, 39, 44, 49-50, 58, 63, 67, 74-75, 78

Yuwipi, Lowanpi, and Heyoka

1-2, 9, 22-27, 49, 55-63, 65, 67
Ghosts and Spirits 1-2, 9-10, 14, 19-21, 32, 42-45, 48-53, 59-60, 62
God 38-43
Good and Evil 19, 39, 41-46
2-3, 15-16, 26
6, 10-11, 40-41
11, 13
Religious Identity 1, 19, 22-24, 38, 53-54, 73-75
Religious Relationships 1-2, 8-9, 50, 53, 61, 66, 72, 76

Restrictions: The sound recordings of the Medicine Men and Clergy Dialogue, are restricted and may be used only in the Francis Paul Prucha, S.J., Archives Reading Room, R360, of the Marquette University John P. Raynor, S.J., Library. However, no restrictions on access apply to the transcripts of the Medicine Men and Clergy Dialogue or to the manuscript drafts for The Pipe and Christ. For more information about access, please consult with the Archivist in charge of this collection.

Besides the Medicine Men and Clergy Dialogue, Father Stolzman produced and/ or collected related recordings (St. Francis Mission Records, Series 9). They include talks by Medicine Man Leonard Crow Dog and others on the Native American Church and other religious topics plus a vision quest experience retold by a non-Indian theology student from Fordham University, ca. 1976-1979.