Reconnecting with the Native American youth

Since the high school students have returned, I’ve tried to spend some time in their homes, catching up on their summer activities and looking ahead to what they hope to accomplish this year. Since school is just beginning and there’s not yet a lot of homework or ballgames, it’s a good time to catch more of the students at home.

The other night at Hogebach Home (HS girls) we enjoyed a home cooked meal around a full table, with no one having to rush off. Erika, one of our seniors, was at the kitchen counter with job applications from four different fast food restaurants and two retailers in town. She is ambitious about trying to find a part-time job that will help with extra-curricular expenses now and begin to put some money away for college.

Another one of the students was feeling very overwhelmed thinking of all that she had to accomplish between now and graduation. Our houseparents and counselors are aware of such feelings and support our students through it all, encouraging them to work at projects slow and steady, in manageable chunks.

Our powwow committee had its first full meeting of the year. We’ve been doing this for 36 years, and have the routine down pretty good. When Tom, our head of facilities, was asked during the maintenance report/ update if he had any concerns, he simply said, “I hate to brag, but our guys got it all covered.” And they do. It takes a huge amount of work and lots of cooperation from every department on campus. It is a special duty and definitely worth the effort for staff, students and our visitors.

With all our Native American students now back, we enjoyed an opening school liturgy and picnic. Our picnic pavilion is still filled with furniture from our remodeling projects, so we decided to hold it in the dining hall. With the temperature at 92 degrees the air-conditioned area definitely worked out better. Some of the homes did choose to eat outside on the picnic tables. Seeing the students in small groups of about 8 to a table gave me the chance to walk around and visit. Between seeing students at school, church, in the homes and on the playground, it reinforces my memory and makes it easier to learn who each of the new kids are.

At school the 1st graders are still learning the basics. Teachers have their own system to get them to line up and move to a different activity, be it art, recess, lunch or Native American Studies. But it takes a while for them to settle down and they take a lot more time to get between point A and B. Given time and practice, they’ll soon settle into the routine.

The construction at the Akta Lakota Museum took an interesting turn as the workers used a crane to install the granite slabs that will be part of the water wall in the Medicine Wheel Garden. We hope that by the end of the month all the outside work will be completed.

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 90 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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *