We pause for a moment of silence—the splashing fountain at the Akta Lakota Museum and Cultural Center has been covered. For St. Joseph’s staff and students, this is the real indication that the seasons are changing and it reminds us that winter is coming.
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 St. Joseph’s Indian School here in Chamberlain, South Dakota!
The weather has been beautiful these last several days. The temperature is predicted to climb over 100 degrees today, but things are still nice and green due to the rain we have received.
You can tell that summer vacations are beginning to pick up speed—the interstate is full of campers and cars heading in all directions. Last week, we had a large caravan of 12 RV travelers visit the Akta Lakota Museum & Cultural Center. They nearly took up the entire parking lot.
Our Dining Hall staff is very busy! The Rising Eagle Day Camp for the children from the Crow Creek Reservation is in full swing and students from the Chamberlain area taking part in the PAWS (P-programs and pupils, A-after/before School, W-winners in School, S-success) Program are enjoying nutritious meals multiple times per day. This free summer lunch program is just one of the ways that St. Joseph’s seeks to use our facilities to meet needs in the local community.
On Tuesday, those taking part in the Rising Eagle Day Camp had the opportunity to learn some water safety from members of the Game, Fish and Parks Department. The instructors explained to the children how important it is to wear your lifejacket and stay seated when the boat is in operation. They also reminded them to be aware of which direction and how strong to current is when swimming, so as not to get swept away from shore. They had a fishing boat the kids could climb around in and life jackets they could practice putting on.
We are grateful to the instructors and hope the children put what they’ve learned into action each and every time they are near the water. Lessons like this are very important since Ft. Thompson, Crow Creek, Lower Brule and St. Joseph’s are all located right on the banks of the Missouri River.
This past Saturday, nearly 100 alumni and former staff gathered to celebrate an Alumni Reunion with the purpose of renewing old ties, looking over old pictures to see who could be identified and thanking Mary Jane, our Alumni Liaison who is retiring after 45 years at St. Joseph’s.
The day started at 9:30 AM and went until 2:00 PM. We all gathered in the Medicine Wheel Garden for an opening prayer. Soon after, many former staff and alumni took tours of campus and re-visited the underground tunnels. Some of the alumni visiting campus were here prior to 1970 when St. Joseph’s was still utilizing dorms and an old school building, so they were very surprised to see all of the changes!
After lunch, a group photo was taken and door prizes were distributed. The day ended with an Honor Song for deceased members of St. Joseph’s alumni and their families as well as St. Joseph’s Alumni who have served our country.
This past Sunday, I took some time to visit with the students staying in the Summer Break Home. They have been having a variety of experiences and journeys around the area. They have really enjoyed spending many days swimming at the local Chamberlain pool since a lot of waterslides and other activities were added last year. They have also been to the Black Hills and Pierre. This weekend, the students and their houseparents hope to head to the Twin Cities in Minnesota for some sightseeing.
As you can see from the picture, they were very excited to share what they have been doing. I’ll try to touch base with them upon their return and share with you what they did in Minnesota.
This weekend I’ll be away too as I have been invited to the ordination of a young man in Indiana who I baptized when I was stationed in Houston, Texas. He tracked me down last year and invited me to his Deaconate Ordination and now I have been asked to come again for his priestly ordination and 1st Mass. It will be a very special honor. Please keep Michael in your prayers, that he has a long and fruitful ministry serving God’s people.
I hope all of you have a wonderful week. May God continue to bless and reward you due to your generosity towards St. Joseph’s Indian School.
Today we had the biggest volume of incoming mail in months. Practically all of it consisted of gifts, well-wishes and Christmas greetings, all from our generous supporters.
St. Joseph’s Indian School strives to acknowledge all donations in short order. This can be a challenge when volumes are large. Because the quantity of mail was so great today, our Mail Processing staff sent out an SOS for assistance in sorting. Feeling confident that no one would miss me at my desk for an hour or two, I headed to the sorting room.
Tray upon tray of mail greeted me when I arrived. A number of other staff members were already at work sorting the mail according to size. This process enables the pieces to be fed properly into the machine which automatically opens the envelopes.
I saw return addresses from all over the country. Many envelopes had hand-written holiday greetings. Others had a colorful array of Christmas stamps. One poor wrinkled-looking envelope had an address that was barely legible. I said a silent prayer to the Post Office for their diligence in getting all of that wonderful mail to us, including those pieces with challenges.
What I felt with each piece of mail that I handled was a deep respect for our supporters. Those envelopes showed me that our benefactors care. That so many people from so many places believe in our mission in little Chamberlain, South Dakota, and the work we do with the Lakota students is very humbling.
It’s another lovely day in the neighborhood… although the evil word SNOW has been mentioned on the weather reports! We have yet to see any and are thankful for mild fall weather.
Since the Lakota (Sioux) youth have begun second quarter, we recently held an awards ceremony for quarter one. The rewards for A and B honor rolls and perfect attendance are a certificate and a WalMart gift card. If a student is on the honor roll with perfect attendance next quarter, the award may increase in value! We also have a contest between age groups to see which class can achieve the highest GPA (Grade Point Average). The one with the highest average gets a pizza party and hangs the award plaque in their classroom.
We honored all veterans and those actively serving our country during Sunday Mass at Our Lady of the Sioux Chapel. THANK YOU just isn’t enough for their sacrifices.
Last Saturday, the Chamberlain Science Club hosted the 1st Annual Hot Chocolate 5K Walk/Run, and it began here on St. Joseph’s campus. It was a way to celebrate Native American Month and learn about the importance of exercise all year long. Sanford Hospital set up an informational booth and there were baked goodies and warm drinks for all those taking part.
Students are in the process of learning to sing two Christmas carols in the Lakota language — Silent Night and Hark the Herald Angels Sing. Aside from what they are learning in class, singing songs is a nice way to keep developing the Lakota language skills of our students.
This week, St. Joseph’s is honored to welcome Mr. Lawrence Diggs, our current Artist in Residence. He is helping our students express themselves through poetry!
St. Joseph’s was honored to have one of our Native American Studies teachers, Allen, give a presentation on historical trauma in American Indian History to a college class at Dakota Wesleyan University. He shared how early boarding schools tried to negate Native American culture and heritage and ‘mold’ them into the white culture by cutting their hair and not letting them speak their native languages. He also spoke about high rates of unemployment, suicide and sexual assaults currently present on the reservations.
He also shared positive notes about how the reservations are working hard to combat suicides and offer resources to those who are struggling. Change will not happen overnight, but he is happy that steps are being taken to get things headed in the right direction and he is proud to be part of that process. Read more in the article that appeared in the Mitchell Daily Republic!
We hope you have a wonderful week. Say pilamaya – thank you – to a veteran and let them know you are grateful for their service to our country.
Fr. Anthony Kluckman, SCJ
PS: The picture shows our tree of remembrance in Our Lady of the Sioux Chapel with the names of our Beloved Dead whom we are keeping in prayer this month.
Today’s blog post comes from Melanie, a recent Artist in Residence at St. Joseph’s. Enjoy!
It has been such a blessing to dance with the students of St. Joseph’s through the Artist in Schools program with the South Dakota Arts Council. I was very grateful for the opportunity to be in this incredible gem of a state!
Pam, St. Joseph’s Personal Living Skills Instructor, was a great help in pulling it all together and having the residency run so smoothly! She was very supportive and helpful and made a world of difference!
With the first through eighth grades, we explored the world of dance from many perspectives! We danced to music from all of the over the world, from Ireland to Jamaica, Sweden to Oceania, India to Cuba and many other places.
We explored ballet as a wonderful way to stay in peak performance shape, avoid injuries, build strength, flexibility and balance and respectfully warm up our bodies in the process! We released some of our pre-conceived ideas about ballet and learned that many professional athletes use ballet in their training.
The dancers also took the ‘ballet class’ taught in the language of ballet, which is French. They learned that by listening and watching, they could discern much of another language without speaking it.
The dancers explored how to embrace the RESPECT that a dancer is required to have for him/herself, for all others and for all of our environment. We spent much of our time with creative movement and learning to tap into our own creative spirit, moving through a space filled with other dancers who were also spontaneously improvising…. without bumping into one another!
I LOVED seeing smiling faces of the Lakota children in each class!
We also explored many different props such as cotton bandanas, silk scarves, stretchy loops and silk streamers while we challenged ourselves to dance with others by mirroring or shadowing their movements. We learned that being a leader of movement means that we are responsible to our followers.
I am very impressed by and appreciative of the “Circle of Courage” that is emphasized at St. Joseph’s Indian School. I experienced generosity of spirit, independence in creativity, mastery of attempting difficult ‘moves’ and lastly, relationships broadening as they danced together in a new way throughout the residency.
I was sad to leave the wonderful staff, faculty and students, but delighted that I have been blessed by the opportunity to dance with the students at St. Joseph’s Indian School!
Greetings from St. Joseph’s Indian School in Chamberlain, South Dakota!
The buzz of motorcycle traffic heading west for the 75th annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is no match for the buzz of campus as staff eagerly anticipate the beginning of the school year on August 10!
Excitement is growing as we begin All Staff Orientation Week. Around St. Joseph’s campus, this is a time of great anticipation. The orientation process gives new and veteran staff the chance to get to know one another, share insights and ask/answer questions. On Wednesday, all staff will come together for our traditional beginning of the year kickoff. We will begin the day with a prayer service in the Our Lady of the Sioux Chapel and culminate with lunch and an all-staff meeting.
The last of our student applications are being processed. It looks like we will start with over 200 students again this year. We eagerly anticipate their arrival this upcoming Sunday!
We are also getting ready to host our next donor luncheon in San Diego, California on August 15 and 16. Iyung and Haille are looking forward to the trip and would enjoy the opportunity to meet you if you are in the area. Please call 1-800-584-9200 for more information or to reserve your spot. . If you are not able to join us in San Diego, our next luncheon is in Dallas, Texas on October 3 and 4.
Since St. Joseph’s Indian School starts classes a few weeks ahead of our local public school, our high school students will enjoy a few more days of summer vacation. The high school students who participate in golf, football, volleyball and cross country will arrive this weekend to participate in preseason practices, while the remainder will return to campus for orientation on August 24 and 25. Classes at the public high school begin August 26. We are excited about a new program for our seniors geared toward preparing them for college through an independent lifestyle program. I will keep you informed on this program as it unfolds.
Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers as we prepare for the arrival of our Native American students. Your support allows us to collaborate with one another to offer our students and their families the best programs possible! Pilamaya—thank you.
May God continue to bless and reward you for your generosity. We keep you in our prayers.
Lots of activity on St. Joseph’s Indian School’s campus today. Despite freezing rain and treacherous icy roads, Chamberlain’s Chamber of Commerce hosted fourth, fifth and sixth grade girls basketball tournaments at the three gyms throughout town. St. Joseph’s hosted the sixth grade action. All of our teams got in three games to end the season. None of them won the championship, but all hustled and played hard.
Today’s big event was the Christmas Store. All the children had a handful of tickets which they could use to “purchase” different items that donors have sent in. They picked up sweaters for grandpa and clothes for a baby sister, necklaces for mom or a stuffed animal for a younger brother. Once they loaded up their plastic garbage bags with a dozen items or so, they came to the skate room, where Santa Claus waited to greet them, and generous volunteers helped them wrap all the presents to take home and share with their loved ones. Staff also baked lots of Christmas goodies for snacks throughout the day. Each of the nineteen homes had about 20 minutes to do their shopping before the next group came in. The kids are excited and look forward to it, and staff enter into the spirit of the season. Several high school students also helped decorate the room and wrap presents, teaching them to give back to their younger relatives.
Tonight the Chamberlain Area Churches Choir performed a lovely Christmas Cantata in our Chapel. I sat next to the Rooney Home boys (6th-8th grades) but didn’t see any other Lakota students in the church. I was feeling bad that more of the kids couldn’t enjoy the lively harmonies and inspiring message. The Cantata was close to our primary students’ bedtime, so I understood. But then, I heard clapping coming from the choir loft. There was a lively group upstairs, wearing pajamas and bath robes, so they could go right from church to bedtime when all was finished!
There are advantages to having lots of connecting walk ways on our campus. And the choir seemed tickled and appreciative that our students were able to participate.
The William Home girls (4th-5th grade) held their annual holiday open house. The houseparents must have practiced some of questions with the girls so they could be good hostesses and work on social skills. Throughout my visit several of the girls asked me:
May I take your coat?
Are you comfortable?
Can I get you anything else?
How was your day?
From the moment they took my coat until the time I left, they were most gracious. Frederika sliced the cheese and sausage and wanted to know if it looked crooked. Trinity wondered how the cookies tasted since she baked them. One of the girls was featured on this year’s Christmas cards, and her face beamed with delight when I brought her a pile to share with her family and friends.
National Family Week is an annual event recognized each Thanksgiving week that celebrates the family and its value to society. The theme for National Family Week is Connections Count, recognizing that strong families are at the center of strong communities. Children live better lives when their families are strong!
At our celebration this year, we tried things a little differently. Instead of dividing the student families up into the homes, we had all of the students gather at the Dining Hall here on campus. Students sat at their family table. They made a poster, writing down all the things they were thankful for and then colored it as a family. Students also received a Christmas ornament on which they each wrote their names.
There was much laughter and talking throughout the early evening. After their poster was complete, they enjoyed dinner together. They enjoyed spending time with their family. After dinner, everyone played Bingo.
All in all, the night was a great success! The students left with gifts to take home for their families and food gift cards to use for their Thanksgiving celebration.