St. Joseph’s Cultural Trip: Where the Past and Present Collide

St. Joseph’s Indian School seventh grade students embarked on a week-long cultural trip in May.

St. Joseph’s Indian School students embarked on a six day, five night cultural trip in May to visit important and sacred sites of their ancestors. It gave them the opportunity to walk where their ancestors once walked, and pray where they once prayed.

Before St. Joseph’s students and staff hit the road, they took part in an inipisweat — ceremony, which is the purification ceremony of the Lakota (Sioux). Throughout inipi, participants sit in a circle while heated rocks are placed on the center fireplace. Water is poured over them to create steam. Songs are sung and prayers are offered by the participants.

“If you keep your eyes open, you can sometimes see spirits,” said Jackson.

Seventh grade girls at Matȟó Thípila — Bear Lodge (Devil’s Tower).

Then the young boys and girls parted ways. They visited the Crazy Horse Memorial, Matȟó PaháBear Butte, and Matȟó Thípila Bear Lodge (Devil’s Tower), the sites of the Wounded Knee Massacre and the Battle of Little Big Horn, and more.

At each site, the students were able to explore, pray and reflect upon the stories of their Native people. They also met and learned from Lakota elders, park rangers and historians.

Seventh grade boys take a break from hiking at Wind Cave.

Then, in the evenings or when inclement weather forced the groups inside – this year’s trip had a lot of rain – students enjoyed spending time at a few indoor water parks to swim and play.

“I liked everything about the trip – like laughing with each other on the bus and talking about our favorite parts,” said Jeremy.

When the trip wrapped-up, students returned to St. Joseph’s Indian School. They spent the last two days of school preparing and sharing a PowerPoint presentation about their trip.

The boys stopped for a photo during their tour of the location of the Battle of Little Big Horn.

The cultural trip always brings many small moments of fun to the seventh grade students every year. But, there is also a big picture goal. The trip is meant to inspire students to continue learning more about their culture. Hearing stories of the greats who came before them will hopefully spark a flame within them to rise and become the next generation of great leaders.

Students walked along a trail of trees adorned with prayer ties. A prayer tie is a prayer written on piece of fabric with rolled sage.

Pilamayathank you – for giving us the opportunity to teach our Lakota students about their culture. We couldn’t do what we do without you!

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.

6 thoughts on “St. Joseph’s Cultural Trip: Where the Past and Present Collide”

  1. That is so great. What a wonderful trip. Yes…..teach them the ways of the ancestors…..That is so cool……..I envy them. I would like to see those places……..)

  2. There is much joy in my heart knowing the great work being done to educate our native brothers and sisters. The past should and MUST be saved. My desire to assist in making this happen is very dear to me. God Bless and stay strong, todays children are tomorrows leaders!!

    1. Thank you! We are very proud of the important work we are able to accomplish thanks to our generous supporters. We appreciate your kind words!

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