Prayers of the Lakota children float on the wind

It’s that extraordinary time of year when Mother Nature’s emotions run from the peace and beauty of gently falling snow to the terror of a blizzard to the dreary, chilly

St. Joseph’s students all take Religious Education as part of their regular curriculum.
The Lakota children create prayer flags in their Religion class.

in-betweens when melting snow gives way to drab patches of brown and grey.

Last year, we struck upon an idea to help brighten the winter landscape at St. Joseph’s Indian School – prayer flags. The Lakota (Sioux) students created colorful flags bearing messages of hopes and dreams, grief over lost loved ones, wishes for a better world and any other prayer imaginable.

It was a wonderful success, so we decided to do it again this year.

We begin the process with a short video teaching about how prayer flags originated in Tibet. We also discuss different forms of prayer: petition, intercession, adoration, blessing and thanks.

Our Native American students answer questions about their hopes, dreams and the most important things in their lives. Next, they choose a theme for their flag and draft a pattern on paper. The final flag is painted on fabric using special markers that won’t fade in the weather.

Some interesting flags emerged; some are memorials, many are dreams for the future, many more honor family.

When the flags are finished, they are ironed to set the colors and then hemmed to string on clothesline.

The most treacherous part of the project involves getting out the tall ladders and hanging the flags.

Prayer flags originated in Tibet and are now displayed at St. Joseph’s Indian School.
The prayers of our Native American students float on the South Dakota wind.

Religious Studies Associate Joe bravely mounts the ladder to string the flags from tree to tree along the front walk to the school. There they will fly through May carrying the students’ prayers on the wind.

Clare, Director of Pastoral Care

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.

6 thoughts on “Prayers of the Lakota children float on the wind”

  1. HOW BEAUTIFUL ! WHAT A WONDERFUL CUSTOM/TRADITION TO INSTILL IN THE CHILDREN!
    God bless you all, be safe, and spring is around the corner!!!!
    Madelyn Mathias 🙂

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