WOW! What a weekend!
The Great Spirit really blessed St. Joseph’s Indian School this past weekend with great weather for our 37th Annual Powwow. Many new friendships were made, and over 400 visitors were given the chance to see where their generous donations go and how they impact the lives of our Lakota (Sioux) students.
The festivities kicked off on Wednesday, with Fr. Steve returning for the weekend. The students and staff had an ‘official’ going away gathering that gave everyone time for tears, handshakes and sharing memories. Thursday morning, we were up bright and early to take part in the bus trip to the Lower Brule and Crow Creek Reservations.
Friday, the morning got started with breakfast at the Development Office. Tours were also included so visitors could see how the mailings go out and how the donations are handled when they come in.
Later, at the Rec Center, there were three different cultural presentations:
- How to make a dreamcatcher
- Traditional Native American foods
- A drum presentation
Each session filled quickly. Many took advantage of the opportunity to visit the Akta Lakota Museum & Cultural Center and the new addition, the Tokéya uŋkí nájiŋpi (We Stood Here in the Beginning) Historical and Alumni Center.
Visits to the school and classrooms, with the Lakota boys and girls acting as tour guides, took up the early afternoon prior to the crowning of St. Joseph’s royalty — Eagle Staff Bearer, Miss St. Joseph’s and Jr. Miss St. Joseph’s. The afternoon concluded with a demonstration of Hoop Dancing by Kevin Locke who told stories, taught us sign language and employed 28 hoops in his dance. The Friday evening banquet at Cedar Shores was jam packed with 375 guests. There was a drawing for a Lakota Star Quilt and a silent auction for a painting by Mr. Del Iron Cloud, a St. Joseph’s alumnus.
Saturday was absolutely awesome weather-wise with sunshine and gentle breezes. Early guests on campus that morning had the chance to visit several of St. Joseph’s homes prior to the Grand Entry at noon. All veterans were invited to take part as the colors were presented and then shared their name and branch of service.
We had a great turn out of youth dancers – 191 in all – and all the practice our students put in paid off. Twenty St. Joseph’s students claimed prize money, with five winning first place!
Everyone enjoyed a buffalo stew supper after the powwow.
The evening ended with an honor dance for Fr. Steve, which began with a blessing for him in his new assignment as Provincial of the Priests of the Sacred Heart in the United States.
There was a full house for Mass on Sunday morning, which began with some of St. Joseph’s dancers – wearing full regalia – leading us in as our drum group provided the entrance music. Many pictures were taken and then our guests were free to visit the museum again or begin their journey home.
As I shook hands with those leaving Our Lady of the Sioux Chapel, many mentioned they are looking forward to coming again next year. Our students and staff hope they are able to return and that others, who were unable to come this year, might make it next year. St. Joseph’s 38th Annual Wacipi – Powwow – will be September 12-14, 2014. I hope you all can join us!
Fr. Anthony Kluckman, SCJ
P.S. One thing that really impressed me was how many individuals or church groups brought donations of school supplies, clothing and other needed items. Several mentioned they have been doing this for years. Pilamaya —thank you.