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!
On Friday, May 22 2015, 19 proud Lakota students graduated from eighth grade at St. Joseph’s Indian School. Major Gifts Officer Brian gave an inspiring address to
students, families and staff.
Parents – thank you for being here. Your presence and support is crucial and I know you must be very proud of your child as they are proud of you. We appreciate all the family members in attendance and the ones who were not able to make it. I commend and applaud you.
Distinguished guests, graduates, parents, family members and friends, St. Joseph’s staff. Welcome to a special moment, for some special kids at a special place: St. Joseph Indian School. Words fall short when describing this wonderful organization. From the outstanding leadership of Mike Tyrell and administration to our Child Services Team, Development Office, Facilities, Akta Lakota Museum & Cultural Center and Rec Center staff, and our 60 nurturing houseparents, it is definitely a collaborative effort. St. Joseph’s staff are the most professional, hardworking people I have ever had the privilege to work with. Each day they bring passion, commitment, dedication and – most importantly – unconditional love for your children. Staff, I commend and applaud you.
Sitting Bull was a man well ahead of his times when he most eloquently stated, “Let us put our minds together and see what life we can make for our children.” So here we gather – together. Unified for the same purpose: these 19 young men and young ladies.
At this time I would like to take a moment and briefly talk about three ships and one destiny. I can assure you I am not talking about the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria. The ships are named Citizenship, Mentorship and Leadership.
Let’s take the first, Citizenship. Students, you may not know this, but you were born into dual citizenship. Citizens of the United States and citizens of your respective sovereign tribes. This puts you in a very select and unique class. Very few Americans have dual citizenship. This is a privilege. However, with twice the privileges come twice the responsibilities. In both your Native and non-native communities you must stay informed, respect other’s rights, vote and volunteer. Be an active citizen.
Now for our second ship. Mentorship.
Whether you realize it or not, you are a mentor. Your siblings, peers and other young children are always watching you. Make the right choices, do the right thing. Set the standard high for others to follow. Always do your best in whatever you do; set goals and seek challenges; become a role model for those coming behind you; and always have God in your heart.
James Baldwin made a very true statement for all of us to learn from. He said “children have never been good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.”
We all have the duty of mentorship.
Now, for our lead ship. Of course that would be leadership.
Leadership has many faces, many definitions and various styles. From my perspective, a leader needs to be a visionary who is passionate for his people and their dreams. The leader is the navigator, converting dreams into goals and goals into success.
Most importantly, be a servant leader. Serve the Creator with complete obedience to His will – not yours. Be a leader who is committed to promoting tribal interests over personal gain. Always represent traits becoming of Native Americans – strong, resilient and determined. Proud, yet humble. Never forget the sacrifices of your ancestors. The privileges you enjoy today began with the sacrifices of previous generations.
As we commemorate this next generation of Native Americans, let us not boast of yesterday’s success, less we stumble in securing tomorrow’s dreams and blessings.
Today, we celebrate the accomplishments of 19 of St. Joseph’s best and brightest. A new generation, full of hope and poised to take on the challenges facing Indian Country. Future leaders who will personify integrity, ethics and self-determination. Class of 2015, you must be resilient and strong. You must have courage and lead. Most importantly, you must stand united and never forget, Generosity is the Heart of Native America.
The leader of my tribe, the Honorable Governor Bill Anoatubby conveys a powerful message – “A rising tide raises all ships.” This, I believe, is true. Unfortunately for many in Indian Country, they have weathered the storms but high tide has yet to roll in. However, as each raindrop contributes to the depths of the oceans, each one of us has the ability to help raise that tide and roll it in.
One drop at a time.
One day at a time.
One child at a time.
There is an old Indian proverb that states, “The soul would have no rainbow if the eyes had no tears.”
We as Native Americans have shed more than our share of tears. The time has come – I said the time has come for our tide to roll in and we receive our rainbow. The future is bright. Our children are ready. St. Joseph’s is a blessing. And God is with us!
Let us remember that a rainbow symbolizes a covenant. A promise. God’s promise. Today, we receive 19 of God’s promises. 19 young rainbows. A pot of gold may not be waiting. However, something more valuable, more important awaits. Hope, opportunity, love and the ability to connect with God’s destiny for your life. Creator has a special plan for each of you. He has supplied you with all the tools. It is up to you to navigate your journey. Listen, pray and depend on The Great Spirit. The road will not be completely red or white or yellow or purple or any other color. You will find the road is in itself a rainbow. This path will take you to the highest mountains and other times sink you below sea level, but you will prevail. Trust, have faith, love family, never give up and believe! Believe in yourself as everyone in this chapel believes in you!
As you walk out those doors, remember your duties as a citizen. Remember your duties as a mentor. Remember your calling as a Native American leader! Be proud of who you are and always proud of where you come from. You are our future!
Today, you are St. Joseph’s Braves. Tomorrow you become warriors! Some of the greatest leaders in our history were Dakota and Lakota. Crazy Horse, Sitting Bull, Red Cloud, Black Elk, American Horse. The list goes on and on. You cannot fail! You will not fail! It is in your genes! It is in your spirit! It is in your heart! It is in your blood! Stand up and be proud! YOU ARE NAKOTA! YOU ARE DAKOTA! YOU ARE LAKOTA! You will succeed!!!
Perhaps one of you will follow in the footsteps of Crazy Horse, Sitting Bull or Red Cloud and be the next great leader of your people. Crazy Horse has always been – and
always be – my hero.
Now it is your turn to be someone’s hero!
Students, look behind you. Go ahead look behind you.
Last Monday and Tuesday we held our Opiciye Okizi (Healing Camp) for students who are grieving the loss of a loved one. Our Lakota
students were paired up with an adult—either a relative or a staff person—to accompany them throughout their time in camp. It was a time for using storytelling, ceremony and art to process feelings of loss. We took a holistic approach, addressing the spiritual, physical and emotional aspects of grieving. Family members were an important part of camp, and on-campus housing was provided for relatives who were coming from long distances to participate.
Several themes emerged as the camp progressed. One theme was that of heartstrings—the invisible and yet unbreakable connections between us and the people we love. As a group we made the world’s first known human dreamcatcher. We stood in a circle as Clare read the story of how the spirit Iktomi brought the dreamcatcher to the people. All the while, LaRayne wove a web among the members of the group connecting each person to everyone else because – Mitakuye Oyasin —we are all related. Later, we strung all our prayers for our loved ones together by making prayer ties out of red cloth and sage. These were tied together and hung outside in the branches of a pine tree.
Stories like these were important because they reminded us of who we are, where we came from and where we are going. Another traditional story about the origins of the Milky Way reminded us that we are not alone, and that those we love are always with us. Our Christian stories reminded us that death is not the end, and that we are going to be reunited with our loved ones in God’s embrace.
One underlying theme was the task of accepting things as they are. Nobody cries the same way, and there is no wrong way to grieve. Each person felt their loss in his or her own way and had a unique way of expressing that—laughter, tears, drawing, avoidance, writing, numbing out. As a group, we had to adjust to what worked or didn’t work for each person, and to treat each person’s process with respect. Sometimes that meant letting go of expectations about what an activity would look like, or how a group interaction would take shape.
We ended the day with the Wiping of the Tears, a Lakota ceremony for the end of the mourning period. A Dakota elder said a prayer and sang a song, while helpers offered each participant sage water and a ceremonial combing of the hair and wiping of tears. The ceremony provided a sense of closure to our camp, while reinforcing the sense of support and connection in the group.
I want to thank the people who made this camp possible—the family members and staff who gave of their time and of themselves to our students, the dying mother who requested this for her children back when camp started in 2003, the Akta Lakota Museum & Cultural Center staff who were very gracious with the use of their space, and the many benefactors who support the work at St. Joseph’s Indian School. Wopila tanka, many thanks.
My name is Chelsey and this is my first “official” year at St. Joseph’s Indian School. While finishing up my Master’s Degree in Counseling and Human Resource Development
last year, I was an intern here. I grew up right here in Chamberlain, South Dakota, however, and have been familiar with the school my entire life.
I have always enjoyed participating in activities on campus and a trip to the Akta Lakota Museum & Cultural Center is still one of my favorite ways to spend a day. I’ve always had an interest in the Native American culture, and now I have the privilege of working with the Lakota (Sioux) students and their families on a daily basis.
When I first considered going into the counseling field, I asked to shadow a few of the counselors at St. Joseph’s. As I was asking many questions about the field and how things are done at St. Joseph’s, I remember one counselor telling me he could sum it up in one word…relationships.
After being at St. Joseph’s for a little over a year, I could not agree more. There are so many relationships that impact my job and daily responsibilities.
The most important relationship in my life is that with God. I feel so blessed to work at a place where I can openly share my faith while participating in mass, prayer services, and home prayers.
Relationships with the students are next, especially in my position as a Family Service Counselor. My favorite times during the week are spent in sessions with the students and after school in their homes.
Closely following the relationships with the students, is the relationships I have with their parents/guardians. One of my main responsibilities as a Family Service Counselor is to be the main contact person with the families. This allows me work through the struggles of each student with their parent or guardian, and also join in celebrating their successes.
Working at St. Joseph’s also gives me relationships with my co-workers and other staff who are all working toward the same mission: to educate the Native American youth for life – mind, body, heart and spirit.
St. Joseph’s Indian School is truly a family of its own and I am so honored to work for this organization.
Each day, I see examples of the staff coming together with different ideas, activities and projects to further the mission of St. Joseph’s Indian School and serve those around us.
With the years to come, I look forward to strengthening my relationship with God, building long-lasting relationships with the students and their families, and continue to fulfill the mission of St. Joseph’s Indian School with the wonderful staff that surround me.
Powwow activities started last Thursday when two busloads of visitors went on a tour of the Crow Creek and Lower Brule Indian Reservations just north of Chamberlain. A ‘meet & greet’ Thursday evening allowed our visitors to ask questions of our Child Services Staff.
Friday, guests gathered for various cultural activities at the Akta Lakota Museum & Cultural Center. Later that day, the students gave tours of their classrooms. Afterwards, everyone gathered at the rec center for the announcement of our powwow royalty — Miss St. Joseph’s, Jr., Miss St. Joseph’s and our Eagle Staff Bearer, who would lead the Grand Entry on Saturday.
Saturday did indeed live up to all the predictions and was an answer to our prayers. The sun was out with no clouds in the sky, but it was a bit breezy. As the day progressed, it warmed up and turned out to be a beautiful day, great for the dancers.
The morning began with the dedication of the new playground equipment. We were honored to have the benefactor who was the driving force behind the project present to help cut the ribbon with Miss St. Joseph’s.
Afterwards, our grass dancers helped bless the powwow grounds and prayers were offered asking the Great Spirit to help the dancers do their best and to make the whole day a rewarding experience for everyone. The Colors were carried by an Honor Guard made up of military veterans who were St. Joseph’s alumni. All veterans were invited to march in following the colors. Veterans were invited to introduce themselves, tell what branch of service they served in and where they have been stationed. We were especially honored to have a World War II veteran with us.
Another highlight of the day was the presence of Mr. Casimir LeBeau, one of two surviving members of the student body that started at St. Joseph’s when the school opened in 1927. He shared some thoughts with the crowd and then became the centerpiece as the 64 alumni who were present gathered around him for a group picture.
As the competitive dancing came to an end, we had Mass at Our Lady of the Sioux Chapel. Several of our dancers attended in full regalia and danced accompanied by St. Joseph’s drum group. After Mass was over, everyone gathered for dinner and prizes for the dancers and drum groups.
It was a wonderful weekend! Be sure to watch our powwow video and consider making plans to attend our 39th powwow on September 19, 2015!
We thank you for your many prayers. May God’s blessings continue to be with you and yours.
Greetings from South Dakota and happy powwow week!
The BIG news today is the blessing of the new playground equipment! Students and staff came out during their first period yesterday morning so we could offer a prayer and express our gratitude to our tiyospaye – extended family – who made it all possible. There was a lot of excitement and glee as they slid, climbed, swung and checked out everything.
As one staffer put it:
The kids finally got to play on our new playground! They have been waiting for a month and were incredibly patient. Today it was awesome to witness them experience it for the first time. Yep, all 164 kids at once – priceless!!!!!! If only everyone could have heard the joy that erupted from St. Joseph’s this morning…we are truly blessed!!!!!!!
Pilamaya – thank you – for your generosity!
And in the midst of this excitement, powwow week is upon us!
Last week we began the process to determine our royalty for the powwow. The students taking part had to write a short essay about why they wanted to be Miss St. Joseph’s, Jr. Miss St. Joseph’s or the Eagle Staff Bearer. They were also asked to demonstrate their dancing skills and answered questions from our panel of judges. The results will be announced Friday afternoon, September 12, at the cultural presentation in the Rec Center.
Powwow guests are already arriving at St. Joseph’s Indian School! Our first visitor so excited he came a week early. He knocked on our door Saturday morning wondering where everyone was. Activities officially begin Thursday morning with a bus tour of nearby Indian Reservations (pre-registration required). In the meantime, guests can visit the Akta Lakota Museum & Cultural Center and take in the sites in and around Chamberlain. Check out the full powwow schedule!
You can learn more about powwow, including the definition of the event and various dance styles, at www.stjo.org/powwow.
I hope each of you has a wonderful week. Please keep us in prayer that we’ll have good weather and a successful event for our Lakota (Sioux) students, their families and all our guests!
I hope everyone had a great Labor Day weekend! We were honored to have a lot of guests visit the Akta Lakota Museum & Cultural Center as they were passing through on their travels. I love driving through the parking lot to look at the license plates and see where everyone is from. I hope you may have the chance to visit us one day!
It was a busy week here on campus. One of our high school boys’ homes hosted the Chamberlain High School Varsity football team for dinner Thursday night. It is a way to strengthen team unity and help give the local players and coaches a chance to see how the St. Joseph’s students live. We have several St. Joseph’s boys on the team.
Sadly, the team lost their season opener Friday night against a team ranked at the state level. However, the Cubs will have the chance to rebound with their home opener this Friday.
In volleyball news, the varsity season opens tonight with the Lady Cubs hosting Stanley County. Just like the football team, we have several students on both the Varsity and JV teams.
The high school students had Friday off as well as Monday. One of our homes took advantage of the time off and offered a car wash on campus. Their goal was to raise money to attend the LifeLight Music Festival in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, which is a three-day Christian music event. The car wash was a hit and they had a great time at the festival!
Here on campus over the long weekend, the younger Lakota students took in a movie – Guardians of the Galaxy – at our local theater. A picnic was planned afterwards, but they had to avoid some rain drops! They also had the chance to enjoy being outside, swim and just take it easy – it was a wonderful, relaxing weekend!
With the holiday weekend behind us, all the focus now shifts to St. Joseph’s powwow September 12-13. We are praying for good weather! The students are busy preparing regalia and practicing their dance steps. We hope you can join us!
We hope you will all have a great week! May God’s blessings and guidance will be with you.
Where did the summer go? Monday morning, orientation began for new houseparents, teachers, counselors and support staff. We have 29 new team members for the 2014-2015 school year.
One mentioned she felt God’s call to come and offer her service to St. Joseph’s Indian School. This reflects an attitude many have shared in the past. We are grateful for this spirit of mission and that God calls the right people at the right time to cross paths and serve the Lakota youngsters.
When new staff were asked what qualities they bring to the job, some of the comments included:
Love of young people
May the giver of all good gifts, our Heavenly Father, enable them to have many opportunities to share these gifts with everyone around them, students and staff.
All staff will be back on campus next week, but final touches for the upcoming school year are still being made. The new playground equipment is being delivered over the next few days and it will be a challenge to get everything bolted and in place by the opening of school on August 11. Pilamaya – thank you – for your continued generosity that allows us to provide a safe environment for the children we serve!
Many guests and visitors have been stopping at the Akta Lakota Museum & Cultural Center. I hope you and your family will have the opportunity to visit one day soon. It is good to see the museum parking lot filled with vehicles from all over the USA and beyond. Our visitors are impressed by the facility and we have received several great reviews, such as this blog post.
Remember St. Joseph’s annual powwow coming up September 12-13. For more information or to register, visit www.stjo.org/powwow or call 1-800-584-9200.
Please continue to pray for us as orientation continues this week and for the all-staff orientation next week. Together, we will develop a sense of family and provide the best experience possible for our in-coming students. We are grateful to God for your support and encouragement which allows us to have a positive impact on the children’s lives.
I hope your remaining summer is relaxing and enjoyable. Stay safe and may God’s blessings continue to be with you and yours!
Summer is nearly over at St. Joseph’s Indian School!
I just received a note from Donna, our Human Resources Director – things are looking great for the upcoming school year (which is just around the corner)!
Donna mentioned that our teaching spots have been filled, which is a special accomplishment. Newspapers recently reported that 30% of open teaching positions in South Dakota have not been filled. We even have two new Family Service Counselors hired. The only area still to be filled is for three houseparents. Please keep in your prayers that these openings may be filled with the right people.
See St. Joseph’s available career opportunities here!
New staff orientation started today. All staff orientation begins the first week of August. The Lakota (Sioux) students return August 10 and classes begin August 11. Where did the summer go?
Just after school starts, we’ll host our next donor luncheons in Cincinnati, Ohio, August 16 and 17. Two of our students, Alan and Wankiya, will be there with staff to meet you and share their experiences at St. Joseph’s. Register online now or call 1-800-584-9200 for more information. You can also take a look at our event calendar to see if we’re coming to a city near you!
Whether you can attend powwow or not, you are always welcome to stop in and visit St. Joseph’s Indian School and see the good you are doing for the Lakota children. Be sure to make time for the Akta Lakota Museum & Cultural Center!
May God continue to keep you in good health. Know we are praying for you in gratitude for your generosity. Pilamaya – thank you!
Greetings from the banks of the Missouri River – a busy spot over the 4th of July weekend. We had boats of all descriptions sailing up and down the river. Even a sleek sail boat went gliding by.
The Chamberlain-Oacoma community kicked off Independence Day celebrations with a parade down Main Street followed by a rodeo, car show and a boat regatta, all before a fireworks show lit up the night sky.
Saturday morning saw the Race on the River – a 5 or 10k fun run – which began at St. Joseph’s Rec Center. Younger children also had the chance to take part in an obstacle course. The day ended with stock tank races in the marina with 4-person teams.
The highlight of last week was United States Senator Tim Johnson’s visit to St. Joseph’s. He met with younger students in the summer home and they told him about all the fun activities they are doing this summer. High school students met Senator Johnson at the Akta Lakota Museum & Cultural Center, where they visited about St. Joseph’s high school program and their plans for the future.
Senator Johnson has given 36 years of service as a State Legislator, member of the United States House of Representatives and three terms as Senator. As he retires, he shared that he is looking forward to spending time with his children and grandchildren. We thank Senator Johnson for his years of service and concern for Native American issues. We are grateful he made St. Joseph’s Indian School a part of his farewell tour around the State of South Dakota.
The first spade of dirt has been turned on the playground project. The Lakota students use the playground during recess, after school and every other chance they get! The current slides, swings and basketball courts are showing their age and safety regulations make it necessary to replace them.
On the first day of school (August 11!) there will be new swings, basketball hoops and more for the kids who call St. Joseph’s their home-away-from-home! Their shouts of joy and smiling faces will be their thanks for your generosity.
I have a special prayer request. Members of the United States Province of the Priests of the Sacred Heart will be gathering at our headquarters in Hales Corners, Wisconsin this week for a Province Assembly.
These are held every three years and this one is extra special. It will help us prepare for the General Assembly next year in Rome when all the Provinces of the Congregation send representatives to discuss the future direction we’ll take as well as elect a new Superior General. Will you keep us in your prayers? We ask that the Holy Spirit guide us in
the right direction.
Pilamaya – thank you – for your generous support for the education and care of the Lakota boys and girls at St. Joseph’s Indian School. I hope you will have the chance one day to stop in and visit. If you are planning a trip, visit www.stjo.org/visit for helpful information!