2:00 p.m. Sunday, March 5, 2017
‘Legacy of Neihardt and Black Elk’ presented by Nancy S. Gillis

“The Betty Strong Encounter Center will present “The Legacy of Neihardt and Black Elk,” with Nancy S. Gillis at 2 p.m. Sunday, March 5. Admission will be free; a reception will follow.

In her illustrated program, Gillis will explore the remarkable legacy of a unique personal and spiritual friendship begun in 1931 between the Lakota holy man Black Elk and poet John G. Neihardt.

The presentation will include a brief biography of each man, their meetings and their impact on expanding knowledge of Lakota culture, Native American philosophies, and the possibilities of cross-cultural recognition and respect.

Gillis is retired Executive Director of the John Neihardt State Historic Site and the Neihardt Foundation’s Institute for Vision and Learning, Bancroft, Neb. She now serves on the Board of Directors.

She joined the Neihardt Foundation as Assistant Director in May 1997 with a background in education and corporate administration. She retired in 2014. She continues to speak to schools and civic groups on Neihardt’s work and a variety of related topics.

Gillis also spent 16 years on the faculty of Wayne State College, Northeast Community College, Nebraska Indian Community College, and Little Priest Tribal College where she taught Native American History and Cultures, U.S. History, World History, Anthropology and Sociology. 

Of Cherokee/Choctaw heritage, Gillis was born in California but has lived in five other states. She came to Nebraska in 1987 to work with the Winnebago Tribe for the Reformed Church in America. She has served on that denomination’s Native American Council and Commission for Race and Ethnicity and as a mentor for religious studies curriculum writers. She does occasional pulpit supply for a number of local churches.

Gillis has received numerous awards for her work. In 2014, she received the Addison Sheldon award from the State of Nebraska for “distinguished service to the history of Nebraska in the stories of Native Americans and the writings of John Neihardt” as well as being a consultant for the Sovereign Youth Leadership Camp.