Damian Costello received his Ph.D. in theological studies from the University of Dayton and specializes in the intersection of Catholic theology, Indigenous spiritual traditions, and colonial history. He is an international expert on the life and legacy of Nicholas Black Elk and the author of Black Elk: Colonialism and Lakota Catholicism. Costello was born and raised in Vermont and his work is informed by five years of ethnographic work on the Navajo Nation. Costello is on the faculty of NAIITS: An Indigenous Learning Community (formerly the North American Institute for Indigenous Theological Studies).
This lecture explores the life and legacy of Nicholas Black Elk (c.1866-1950), the Lakota holy man made famous by the book Black Elk Speaks. I begin with Black Elk's Great Vision and his struggle to discern his calling during the events of the Great Sioux War. During his long life, Black Elk lived out his vision in three overlapping roles: as a traditional healer, a Catholic teacher, and a revivalist of Indigenous traditions. In the midst of great tragedy, Black Elk wove these three strands into one beautiful life exemplifying survival, hope, and reconciliation. We will discuss the relevance of Black Elk's legacy for broader questions of Abenaki survival in Northern New England, hope in the face of global environmental problems, and reconciliation in the midst of growing political and religious sectarianism. This talk is based on extensive historical research, extended residency in Indian Country, and continuing conversation with Lakota elders.This program is also available as an online presentation.
The Stono Rebellion has been called the most important slave revolt in North American history. In this lecture, Damian Costello examines the events and the deep African roots of the 1739 uprising in South Carolina. Recent arrivals from the Kingdom of Kongo drew on drumming traditions, military organization, and Kongolese spirituality to communicate their message of freedom. The high point of the revolt was a ceremonial dance, the sangamento, which fused African precedents and enacted the rebels’ call of liberty. Costello will also trace the sangamento tradition in the U.S. and throughout the Americas, and discuss how the Kongolese message of liberty can inform present-day efforts to overcome the lingering effects of our colonial inheritance.
This program is also available as an online presentation.
New Hampshire Humanities programs are made possible in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this these programs do not necessarily represent those of the NEH or New Hampshire Humanities.