Listening to our Native American families

A lot of visitors stayed over and joined us for our regular Sunday mass. Some of our students wore their dance regalia and led the opening procession down the aisle, and later presented the gifts of bread and wine. After communion, our drum group sang a “pilamaya thank you” song, addressed to God, in appreciation of our donors who make our programs possible.

I stayed around after mass and answered final questions from folks before they hit the road to all parts of the country. I counted people from at least 25 different states who made the pilgrimage to Chamberlain to share these joyful days with us.

Our Parents Advisory Committee spent all day with us discussing a host of issues. We’ve been working with a group called Child Trends to survey students and parents, and reviewed their findings via a webinar. What the students want (fewer rules and fewer people watching over them) are some of the things parents are most comforted by with the St. Joseph programs. Still, we don’t want to keep doing things like we’ve always done them without reviewing to see if they are still accomplishing what we hoped they would. Our phone rules and children’s ability to call home haven’t kept in touch with cell phone and computer/Skype technology and are in need of serious revision. We reviewed some of our admissions criteria, and the interview questions that Family Service Counselors ask families on their initial visits. For safety we have lots of security cameras around campus, and we informed the parents how those are used.

We also made time to tour the new alumni/historical center that is part of the Akta Lakota Museum addition. While that is nearing completion, they seemed more enthralled by the gutted old grocery store that is in the process of becoming our expanded thrift store.

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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