Greetings from a snowy St. Joseph’s Indian School.
We were lucky it was not snowing on Sunday when our students and staff returned to campus after Thanksgiving Break, but the weather has been making up for it since with wind, snow and low temperatures.
As some of you may know, this year has been proclaimed a Holy Year of Mercy by Pope Francis. Part of the celebration calls for people to visit the Cathedral and pass through the Holy Door as part of a pilgrimage. I joined parishioners from St. James Catholic Church in Chamberlain and St. Margaret Catholic Church in Kimball to visit the Cathedral of St. Joseph’s in Sioux Falls.
To meet the requirements for the plenary indulgence, the trip was geared to have the opportunity for Confession, to offer prayer for Pope Francis’ intentions and to receive the Eucharist by joining in the noon Mass. After the Mass, we were given a guided tour of the Cathedral and the renovations that were done in the past few years. The group joined together at a local Perkins for lunch before heading home. We enjoyed sharing reflections of what had impressed people the most about the experience and the tour.
Things have slowed down quite a bit on campus. The Rising Eagle Day Camp culminated and the free lunch program for the community has also came to an end to give our staff a short break before the students return to campus on August 14.
Several students are staying on campus in our Summer Break Home. They recently spent a few days in Omaha, Nebraska. I will make sure to give a report on what they saw and did in my blog next week.
The most popular activity at this year’s summer camp was a slip-n-slide ‘waterslide’! A tarp was placed on a hill with a hose at the top, allowing the kids to slip and slide all the way to the bottom of the hill! Everyone enjoyed it immensely.
About a week or so ago, the Chamberlain Cubs High School varsity basketball team sponsored a clinic to help future NBA prospects perfect their game. Several of the young men from the Break Home took advantage of the opportunity, going to the gym each morning to hone their skills. They seemed to have a lot of fun and we’ll see if the extra training bears fruit when the basketball season opens in November.
Greetings from an active St. Joseph’s Indian School!
It seems the campus has been invaded by all sorts of groups. The 8th grade graduates who are moving into the high school program are back and taking part in an orientation program to prepare them for next year. They are busy meeting their teachers at Chamberlain High, figuring the layout of the school and taking a peek into the Homes they’ll be joining this coming August when school starts up again. They’ll be on campus until June 10th.
Four of our High School Homes are open to accommodate the 36 students who are staying at St. Joseph’s for the summer. Nine of these students are signed up for Driver’s Education, which lasts for two weeks. Some students are working on campus at our Akta Lakota Museum & Cultural Center and as counselors for our Rising Eagle Day Camp. Others are busy tutoring students in the summer break home and helping with summer custodial work. A few are even working at local stores and car dealerships!
It’s been so nice to see many familiar faces around campus.
Guess what! It has been snowing again; but this time we avoided being in the bullseye. We received several inches of snow on Christmas afternoon, but our grounds crew did a fantastic job removing the snow from the roads. Today we are getting some gentle flurries.
The Chamberlain Cubs were scheduled to host an East-West basketball tournament yesterday, bringing in schools from across South Dakota, but the threat of snow caused the schedule to begin today.
You may recall that our Lakota Hand Games team had been practicing to defend the championship they won last year at the Lakota Nation Invitational gathering in Rapid City, South Dakota. Sadly they did not do as well this year. We also sent a Knowledge Bowl team to compete against other schools. The team won their first contest but then dropped into the losers’ bracket and could not work their way through to play for the title. Once a team is ousted, each member of the team can take part in a specific category and answer questions and write an essay on their topic. This year one of our juniors, Justin, took part in the Literature category and won first place. Way to go, Justin!!
The archery team boasted a couple place winners:
Camron placed 1st in High School Boys Bare Bow
Danielle earned 4th place in High School Girls Bare Bow
Samantha placed 4th in Middle School Girls Bare Bow
Since our students are away on their Christmas Break, I can share some events that have happened over the last few weeks. Our sixth, seventh and eighth graders participating in Explorers completed their first semester ‘Chores’ project. Through their hard work, the students raised $1,700 for a local resident who is fighting cancer! There was a picture in our local papers of all the members of the club surrounding the beneficiary who had a big smile on their face.
Just before the Break, those who will be serving as bowling captains held a draft of the students who wish to bowl in the upcoming league. There will be about 8 students on each team. Four of the eight will bowl each week. It will be up to the captains to select who will bowl and up to the students to remain eligible academically. There will be about six or seven weeks of bowling.
Also on the sports front, I was informed by our athletic director, Bryan, that one of our seniors, Daves, has been selected to participate in the South Dakota All State football game this coming summer due to his defense, kick returning and receiving capabilities. Congratulations Daves! I believe this is a St. Joseph’s first.
Vickie filled in for the Museum Director, Dixie, who was snowed in that day. Vickie has been with the museum for 18 years. She shared with those attending information on some of the artists we have on display—Arthur Amiotte, Oscar Howe, Robert Penn, Andrew Standing Soldier, Don Ruleaux and Don Montileaux. She mentioned how schools from various parts of the state come for visits. During these visits, our museum staff help them develop a better awareness and understanding of the history of the Native People. She was happy to inform the Kiwanis that approximately 25,000 visitors came through the facility this past year, a 12% increase!
Hope Santa was good to everyone. On behalf of St. Joseph’s Indian School’s students and staff, I would like to extend our best wishes to you and yours for a very Joyous, Peaceful, Healthy and Happy New Year. May God’s blessings be with you now and throughout 2016.
This past Sunday, we held a Lakota Mass on St. Joseph’s campus to celebrate the arrival of our high school students, who started classes with Chamberlain High School on August 26.
We currently have 50 students in the high school program; our enrollment campus-wide is 213 students.
The local public school staff and teachers visited our Akta Lakota Museum & Cultural Center ahead of the start of their school year. The tour gave the teachers and staff an idea of what to expect when they interact with Native American students living in Chamberlain or coming in from the reservation. The experience also helped the staff to have a better understanding of our high school students’ backgrounds.
A welcome back picnic for our staff and students was held at American Creek park along the Missouri River. There was laughter, kayaking, games, swimming, food and fun galore! Once the sun went down, the good times continued to roll with a bonfire and s’mores.
You may recall I mentioned that our religious community, the Priests of the Sacred Heart from Hales Corners, WI , held an election for a new Provincial and Council due to the election of our previous Provincial (and former Director of St. Joseph’s), Fr. Steve Huffstetter, SCJ, to the General Council in Rome. Our acting Provincial, Fr. Ed Kilianski, SCJ, was elected to take on the leadership role. He will be supported by Frs. Quang Nguyen, SCJ; Duy Nguyen, SCJ; Christianus Hendrik, SCJ; Jack Kurps, SCJ; and Br. Frank Presto, SCJ. We ask that you keep them in prayer that the Holy Spirit will guide and strengthen them as they lead the Province into the future.
Now that we have rolled into September, we can officially say that our annual Powwow is close! Our students are practicing twice a week and our drum group, the Chalk Hills Singers, is also preparing for the event. The Chalk Hills Singers played at Mass on Sunday and 24 dancers took part in the entrance rite.
Our 39th Annual Powwow festivities begin on Thursday, September 17 with guest registration, a reservation bus tour (pre-registration required), the powwow royalty crowning ceremony and a meet and greet with St. Joseph’s alumni.
On Friday, guest registration will continue along with a complimentary breakfast, cultural activities, a tour of the school, cultural performances and our evening Tiyospaye Banquet (pre-registration required).
Prior to the powwow on Saturday, there will be tours of students’ campus homes and an open house at Our Lady of the Sioux Chapel. Following the powwow, we will host Mass and provide a complimentary meal before prizes are awarded.
If you would like additional information about our powwow or more information on planning your visit, please call 1-800-584-9200 or visit www.stjo.org/powwow. We would love to have you join us!
May God continue to bless and reward you for your continued support and generosity to the Lakota (Sioux) children.
After all the wild weather last weekend, things have calmed down a bit. Branches keep coming down here and there around campus, but the majority of damage has been cleaned up by our grounds crew along with help of other St. Joseph’s maintenance staff. It was really a team effort as electric saws, manual trimmers and hand-powered rakes were used to repair what Mother Nature tore apart. There was some minor structural damage, but nothing of a serious nature. We are grateful, but it is a shame that so many trees were damaged or lost completely. Several tree stumps still need to be removed and there will be
a lot of replanting to come. We received word from our fellow SCJs (Priests of the Sacred Heart) on the Lower Brule Indian Reservation that they too had high winds which brought down some trees. Thankfully, no buildings or cars were hit and everyone is safe.
You can tell the travel season is well underway by looking at the number of cars, tour buses, campers and RV’s in the parking lot at the Akta Lakota Museum & Cultural Center. I can see the parking lot from my office window and it is interesting to see visitors from all over the country stopping in to learn about the Lakota (Sioux) culture and walk through the new alumni and historical center that gives a brief overlook of St. Joseph’s history. If you would like to about others’ experiences to help you decide if your travel plans include a visit to St. Joseph’s Indian School, you can check us out on TripAdvisor.
The pool in our rec center is undergoing some repair. It is such a blessing and provides so many good things for our students. It is good exercise during the long South Dakota winter, helps fight childhood obesity, enables water safety and swimming lessons
to be conducted; and provides the opportunity for laughter, fun, friendships and fond memories to be established. The pool is also a benefit we can share with our staff and their families, as well as the local community. Stay tuned for details and updates!
A few weeks ago, the Chamberlain Junior Achievement program held its annual golf tournament hosting 16 teams. Participants helped raise over $3,000 which will go toward the various programs sponsored by Junior Achievement. I’m happy to announce the St. Joseph’s team won the event with an 18 under par score of 54 over 18 holes. Congratulations!!
Hope everyone has a wonderful Independence Day weekend. If you are using fireworks, please stay safe and enjoy your local festivities.
It is a universal understanding that people who work at schools should get the summers off. Well I am here to tell you this is a myth! Folks I talk to always ask what I do with
summers off… and then become perplexed when I tell them that, at St. Joseph’s Indian School, I work all summer.
This is when the questions comes out: What do you do all summer? I usually answer “not much” with a sly smile on my face.
The campus is different type of busy from June to August. Between Rising Eagle Day Camp in June, high school students working summer jobs and going to camps, the summer home for grades 1-8, interviewing potential houseparents and planning programing for the next school year, we tend to keep pretty busy. I think there are more kids on campus during June than during a month during the regular school year!
In the organized chaos that is summer, I help supervise the summer home with the other Residential Coordinators. We have approximately 14 Lakota students in grades 1-8 who stay on campus until mid-July. There are several different reasons for students to stay on campus in the summer home, but all come with their parent or guardian’s request and approval. The kids have a great time over the summer with extra trips, daily visits to the Chamberlain pool and community service projects. The hard part is that they have to attend school Monday through Friday, 9am to noon.
For our high school students, a major part of their summer being able to work in various jobs on campus. We have junior houseparents who went through an interview process and earned a spot working in the summer home. Junior houseparents help with supervision of the students, preparing meals, and even some paperwork. Students earn valuable work experience and get to see the other side of the fence of living in a St. Joseph’s home!
Another part of what I do in the summer is work with other administrators to plan for next year. Decisions need to be made about programing, policies and updating rules. This is a really boring process, but it’s important to ensure everything on campus runs smoothly next year.
The last big piece of summer at St. Joseph’s is interviewing and hiring new houseparents. Our Human Resource Department works hard at recruiting, screening and bringing in potential houseparents for interviews. This is a lengthy process, but necessary to ensure we find the right people to care for the children in their campus homes.
When summer starts to wind down in July and the summer kids leave for home, campus becomes really creepy quiet! I use the word “creepy” because, without the laughter and noise of the kids, campus just doesn’t feel right. The kids are definitely the heart and soul of our campus life and are duly missed when they are not here.
As staff, we appreciate the down time, but the creepy quiet also reminds us why we are here, and renews our faith and belief in the mission of St. Joseph’s Indian School.
So folks, that is what happens on campus in the summer!
What I do is small piece in the bigger puzzle of St. Joseph’s. Our development office, maintenance crew, rec staff and Akta Lakota Museum & Cultural Center staff work hard all summer doing their part to keep campus running, make repairs and welcome visitors.
We only have seven weeks until new staff training starts. And the kids come back for the new school year just two weeks after that!
Please pray for our staff to receive rest and renewal on their time off and pray for students to have safe and happy summer. As always, thank you for your support! Without your generosity, we could not continue the work we do to help the Lakota (Sioux) children. Thank you!
Seasonal staff started May 1 and we have been busy with summer camps, RV tours and many visitors from around the world.
Stop in and say hello to me at the reception desk! It is always a pleasure to meet our visitors and help make your visit a memorable experience. I highly recommend that you stop by to tour our museum and campus to learn more about the history of the Lakota (Sioux) people and get a more in-depth look at the work done at St. Joseph’s Indian School. We also have two gift shops with a fine selection of jewelry, books, quilts, pottery and many more items to help you find the perfect souvenir from your summer vacation.
To schedule a guided tour just give me a call at 800-798-3452 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m so excited to help you arrange your tour! All tours begin at the Akta Lakota Museum. For the safety of the Lakota children who live on our campus, we ask all visitors to please check in at the reception
Anpetu waste’! LaRayne imaciyapi ksto!Good Day, LaRayne is my name!
We are in our second week of my 14thday camp at St. Joseph’s Indian School! I remember those overwhelming, exciting feeling from the very first year because I still get them today.
Part of the overwhelming feeling comes from wanting to give the students who come for the Rising Eagle Day Camp a sense of who they are as members of their tribe or members of the Oceti Sakowin Oyate (People of the Seven Council Fires). My purpose is to share my passion of being proud of who we are as Lakota/Dakota/Nakota persons. I try to do this in various ways.
This year I will be pulling from my co-teacher, Allen, for added wisdom and knowledge in traditional Lakota games. Allen brings a plethora of knowledge in this area. We will play the modified version of the moccasin, plum pit, bingo and hand games with our day students. We play with items they can find around the house so that when they are home with friends and family, they can recreate the games with pencils, pens, beads, rocks, sticks or anything their creative minds can find and use.
We are going to plan a two-day focus around the Akta Lakota Museum & Cultural Center and the life-sized tipi that is set up in front, welcoming visitors. The kids will take a tour of the museum as well as the alumni and historical center – Tokéya uŋkí nájiŋpi (We Stood Here in the Beginning) – in order to get a sense of why St. Joseph’s is important to so many people. A guest speaker will share some hands-on artifacts that are part of the tipi, so the day camp kids will grasp a sense of what it was like to live “back in the tipi days.”
Dancing has always been a part of every culture. We will also learn some dances that pertain to friendship and celebrating for fun rather than focusing on the powwow or other ceremonial dances.
We also try to tie in how our entire environment was a part of daily life. This year we will focus on making teas for medicinal use
out of local plants and also how the how the stars tell us about each day, week, month and year. We will talk about how they mirror earth and our own aura.
With each day, I try to find a story or a book that parallels what we are discussing. This helps the kids to understand the importance of storytelling, reading books and how much fun it can be to share a book with someone of any age.
Lastly, we want to share a new movie that teaches our youth and communities about the Horse Nation. Many of our tribal leaders are working on bringing the “Horse Nation” back for healing reasons. We hope to be a catalyst in this process at St. Joseph’s Indian School Rising Eagle Day Camp.
Wopila tanka – many thanks – for helping make day camp possible!