Fascination and chuckles

This morning I attended a funeral at Fort Thompson, on the Crow Creek Indian Reservation. Rose was 90 years old and the matriarch of a large family. At the funerals I’ve attended of many elders, much of the congregation are gray-haired themselves. Rose outlived all of her contemporaries. Instead, the church was full of a lot of young people. Most of her 58 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren live in the area.

At Indian reservation funerals, it’s customary to start the services with a final viewing of the body before the casket is closed. Mourners also say a few words of comfort to the family, or give a hug or handshake. Today that process took over an hour as so many people streamed past. I have fond memories of Rose from my days as pastor there, and wanted to show my support to her family.

Today staff pulled together and the homes and classrooms are ready for the arrival of our students this weekend.

This was also the final day of our SCJ novices’ retreat. They will head back to Chicago and what the novitiate will bring them this year in a time of self discovery. I was truly blessed by listening to them listen to the Lord, and sharing with me where God is leading.

This evening was fun and festive as we took in the Lower Brule Tribal Fair and Powwow. We spent a little time at the rodeo grounds, where Juan Carlos was fascinated by the horsemanship. Next stop was the softball tournament, where James got several chuckles over the teasing banter of the PA announcer.

The highlight, of course, was the powwow with eleven drums singing traditional songs and the colorful Grand Entry with a procession of all the dancers.  The novices got their first taste of Fry Bread and Indian Tacos and found it quite tasty.

We saw lots of St. Joseph’s students. While some kids complain about having to go back to school, many of the youngsters I met were actually excited and looking forward to coming back.

That tells me we’re doing a few things right.

Author: St. Joseph's Indian School

At St. Joseph's Indian School, our privately-funded programs for Lakota (Sioux) children in need have evolved over 89 years of family partnership, experience and education. Because of generous friends who share tax-deductible donations, Native American youth receive a safe, stable home life; individual counseling and guidance; carefully planned curriculum based on Lakota culture and individual student needs and tools to help build confidence, boost self-esteem and improve cultural awareness. All of this helps children to live a bright, productive, possibility-filled future.

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