Instruction via the Two Roads by Nicholas Black Elk

Promoting the cause of Sainthood of Nicholas Black Elk   


By Kathy Cordes, Diocesan Archivist

Dating back to late 1800s, the Two Roads pictorial catechism, used by Nicholas Black Elk and other Native Catechists and Jesuits, depicted salvation history. A new acquisition to the archives, on loan from Deacon Bill White and his wife Terri, is the pictorial catechism of the Two Roads, “Instruction/on by means of the Two Roads.”

Included in the display are references for further reading. The couple spent many months dissecting the section of the Two Roads as part of their Veritatis Splendor Master’s project. (The VSI program is sponsored by the Diocese of Rapid City to train catechists.) The couple’s purpose was to provide current biblical quotes or parts of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) for references.

“We had originally wanted to take his narrative and update it for current times, but after visiting with some of the members of the Black Elk board, we decided to stick with the authenticity of Black Elk’s writing,” White said.

The Instruction/on by means of the Two Roads” explains that the image features two roads: the good road leading to heaven and the bad road leading to the home of the devil.

“If we desire to go to heaven, and three things we must  observe: 
We must believe all that God has revealed. 
We must observe the commandments of  God.
We must receive the seven sacraments.

“There is only one God, but there are three persons in God whom we must adore, the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost (CCC.234). These three persons are one God. They possess all things: all alike. One Wisdom, one kind. God is a living spirit (Jn 4:24) (Rm 5:5). He has no body, and don’t need to have any. God is very great: can do all things, He knows everything, and is in heaven and on earth. God made everything according to his will (Rom 8:28) (Eph 4:20) (Ps 148:2-5).

“First, he made angels and they were good, but a part of them failed to adore God, so he cast them away and made them to suffer. They will suffer for all eternity in the home of the devil (CCC 391). Those who were obedient to God are now in heaven” (CCC.331).

“I appreciate the work of Deacon Bill and Terri to help capture the apostolic zeal and creativity of Nicholas Black Elk,” said Bishop Peter Muhich.  “We can all appreciate his (Black Elk’s) example of holiness.”

Starting July 27, watch the Nicholas Black Elk website ( and the Facebook page (@nicholasblackelkservantofgod) for detailed photos from Two Roads image. We welcome pictures and narratives for both in order to keep the image of Black Elk alive and well. His catechesis and his work to unite peoples together lives on today. Servant of God Nicholas Black Elk, pray for us!