Frank Fools Crow

Last Updated by Text by Gary Enright - Director - 1881 Courthouse Museum - Custer on


In the centuries prior to 1600, Europeans were worshipping their Creator in huge, magnificent cathedrals, while on the North American continent, Native people were worshiping their version of the deity in a totally different way.

native traditional worship

The Native peoples' approach to finding a spiritual relationship with the Creator did not take place in a big, beautiful building. The first Americans' experiences were centered on embracing what we have come to call Mother Nature. To these people, the entire universe was a shrine, not limited to the inside of a church.

This philosophy of the Creator focused on the belief that He made everything and that the entire universe was to be honored and preserved since it was this creation that gave them life, their homes, and there very existence.

The upshot of this comparison centers on the misconception held by many Europeans that Native Americans were somehow God-less and had no religious beliefs because they did not worship as Europeans did, surrounded by a church or cathedral.


The fact is that just the opposite was true. The Native Americans were very devout in their belief that the miracle of creation and nature was, in fact, proof of the existence of this builder of the universe.

The famous Western artist and writer, Charles Russell attempted to explain the beliefs of Native people when he wrote, "He (American Indians) saw Nature as their Bible, with pages open wide. He questions not her miracles, 'tis done, he's satisfied. Yet he is called a heathen, who has always lived with God."

Frank Fools Crow - 1976Frank Fools Crow - 1976 While Europeans brought along their ideas of having churches, pastors, priests, and bishops, Native Americans had their "Holy Men." One of the most famous of these holy men was South Dakota native Frank Fools Crow. Fools Crow was born on the Rosebud Reservation in 1890 and lived his entire 99 years in South Dakota. He became one of the most famous of the Native spiritual healers and was gifted with unusual powers - displayed in his seemingly direct connection with Wakan Tanka and his helpers.

frank fools crow

Fools Crow was considered one of the most important Holy Men in the recent history of Native Americans and was once honored by non-Native people, being given the honor of opening a session of the United States Senate with a prayer.

native traditional worship

So no matter which kind of spiritual belief you may develop, the greatest step we can all take is that when, or if, we seek a greater power. There is more than one path. Traditional Native American spirituality asserts that God surrounds everyone with the miracle of His creation.

Dakota Midday

Interview with Gary Enright, Director, 1881 Courthouse Museum, Custer

Host: Lori Walsh