It’s been busy at St. Joseph’s!

Fr. Anthony, St. Joseph's Chaplain
Fr. Anthony

Good day from St. Joseph’s Indian School!

St. Joseph’s recently handed out academic hardware to our high school Homes with the best academic averages and the least amount of missing assignments. The first award went to those who have maintained a 3.0 or higher grade point average for the entire semester. We give a shout out (and a prize!) to Listella, Sarah, Reyna, Hope, Camron, Danielle, Ashley, Martina and Trey for achieving this high standard!

The high school Home with the highest GPA went to the Hogebach home! They also captured the award for least missing assignments, which I’m sure helped them secure the high GPA they are boasting.

Since the seniors are in a new program this year, the two senior homes competed against one another. The Senior Girls Home won with a 2.90 GPA and also captured the least amount of missing assignments. Their efforts also enabled them to win the award for most improved GPA as they went from a C grade up to a B-.

The High School Advisor, Patrick, said the competition was very close and new winners could emerge next time.
Continue reading “It’s been busy at St. Joseph’s!”

It’s the Holy Year of Mercy

Fr. Anthony, St. Joseph's Chaplain
Fr. Anthony, St. Joseph’s Chaplain

Greetings from St. Joseph’s Indian School!

They’re BACK!!!   The Lakota students returned to St. Joseph’s campus this past weekend.  It is so good to have them back and encourage them as they jump into winter activities. Monday was a day for a teacher in-service, so those who were back early had the chance to go sledding on the snow.

We are scheduled to get some very cold and blustery weather this weekend, with temperatures just above zero and wind chills 20 to 30 degrees below zero.  I want to thank those who helped provide warm clothing for our students – it is really going to be used and appreciated this weekend!

Holy Year of Mercy Logo

On Tuesday, we started the third quarter with a prayer service. Our theme was Mercy, tying in with the Holy Year Pope Francis is asking the Church to celebrate this year. As you can see by the logo, the Good Shepherd comes in search of us to forgive our straying and puts us on His shoulders to bring us back into relationship with God and one another.

Congrats to the students in Raphael and Dennis Homes! They did a project at Christmas, making ornaments and then selling them as a fundraiser.  They sold $44.00 worth of ornaments, which they quickly donated to a nonprofit that utilized it to feed over 200 people. We are proud of them!

We recently had sign-ups for the boys’ basketball teams. The 4th, 5th and 6th grade will start on January 14, and the 7th and 8th graders will begin a week later.  They are looking forward to getting underway and showing off the skills they learned in the Inter City Program they took part in before Christmas.

We are also busy organizing cheerleaders and members of the Pep Squad, a group of younger students who belt out cheers during the games! We hope the weather allows our boys to get in all their games.

The efforts of the staff at the Akta Lakota Museum and Cultural Center continue to be recognized. They recently were honored by the State of South Dakota for their hospitality and friendliness to visitors and guests.  They also continue to get very nice reviews from those who stop in to visit the museum.  If you would like to read some of them, you can go on-line and check them out at

Since it is going to be very cold here, I thought I might put in another plug for our next donor luncheon, which is coming up on the weekend of January 16-17 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Two of our high school girls will be attending along with some St. Joseph’s staff. They are excited to meet you and answer any questions you may have. If you are able to join us or would like more information, visit or call 1-800-584-9200.

I hope everyone’s 2016 is off to a flying start. May God’s blessing be with you to bring good health, much happiness and many interesting experiences during this election year.


Fr. J. Anthony Kluckman, SCJ


A new ‘season’ has begun…

Fr. Anthony, St. Joseph's Chaplain
Fr. Anthony, St. Joseph’s Chaplain

Greetings from St. Joseph’s Indian School.

As I was driving home from the Chamberlain High School football game last Friday, I noticed several of the local motels had ‘no vacancy’ signs lit. I couldn’t figure out why so many people were in town …and then it hit me—pheasants.

The South Dakota pheasant season opened Saturday at noon and the color of the day is now blaze orange. This is a very big source of income for the State of South Dakota and local guides.  We offered a prayer at Sunday Mass asking the Great Spirit to keep all hunters safe.

Saturday evening, St. Joseph’s sponsored a concert by Mr. Shane Heilman of The Psalms Project at the Our Lady of the Sioux Chapel on St. Joseph’s campus. The Psalms Project is a group of forty musicians who are working to put all 150 Psalms to music with artistic excellence, Scriptural integrity, and cultural relevance—a marriage of King David’s vision with modern music.

Thus far, they have recorded the first 20 Psalms and are preparing to release their third album with Psalms 21-30. During the concert, Mr. Heilman talked about the project and explained the meaning of the Psalms he performed. Mr. Heilman also helped out with the music at our Sunday liturgy.  To find out more about the project, you can visit their website,

Last week saw the end of the football and volleyball seasons here on campus. There is no downtime, however, for the Lakota students at St. Joseph’s! Our girls and boys began basketball, martial arts, gymnastics and archery practices this week.

Lakota (Sioux) students with German students
Our Lakota (Sioux) students enjoyed learning from our visitors through the German Exchange program.

Our four German exchange students and their chaperone finished their visit to St. Joseph’s Indian School last week after attending a few days of school at Chamberlain High and then touring the Black Hills, the Badlands, Wall Drug and Mount Rushmore. They were also able to take part in a powwow in Rapid City on Native American Day (observed as Columbus Day elsewhere).

They ended their stay with a presentation to our high school students about their hometowns, their families, their hobbies, what sports they like and their favorite foods. Our students hosted a farewell party at the end of the presentation complete with a cake shaped like a piece of luggage.  Our guests stopped in Chicago for a few days to visit the SCJ’s college program for our seminarians before heading home.  The visit was enjoyed by all.

May each of you have a wonderful week as we see the beauty of nature continue to unfold with the changing of the leaves. May we be grateful for the beauty and continue to do our part in protecting Mother Earth.  May God’s blessings be with you now and always.

Fr. Anthony Kluckman, SCJ


A time of dance at St. Joseph’s Indian School!

Melanie works with the Lakota (Sioux) chidren in Chamberlain, South Dakota.
Melanie, Artist in Residence

Good afternoon from St. Joseph’s Indian School!

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.

Lakota (Sioux) students learning ballet moves.
Our students enjoyed learning from Melanie!

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!

A St. Joseph's student learns how to dance with props.
A St. Joseph’s student learns how to dance with props.

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!

Thank you kindly.


Artist in Residence

One of the best jobs around…

Kelli, Development/Child Services Liaison.
Kelli, Development/Child Services Liaison


My name is Kelli and I am the new Development/Child Services Liaison here at St. Joseph’s Indian School. Although I may be a little biased, I think my job is one of the best jobs around! I get to spend time with the Lakota students and Child Services staff here at St. Joseph’s while still being in touch with our donors through our Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Instagram pages.

In one month, I have already gotten to participate in some pretty amazing things.

On the first day of school for the Lakota students, our Lakota Studies teachers held a smudging ceremony outside of Our Lady of the Sioux chapel. Smudging souls is something that has been done for generations in tribal cultures. Smudging helps to rid a person or area of unwanted energies that aren’t helpful as well as bless new areas, items or places so that a fresh start is felt in the heart.

It was a powerful experience to be present during the smudging ceremony. As students and staff walked through the smoke and washed it over their bodies, they emerged with focus, grace and excitement for the year ahead!

Our Lakota (Sioux) students stand behind the Air & Space Museum sign during their field trip.
Our 5th grade students enjoyed their time at the Air & Space Museum!

Shortly after the beginning of the school year, I was invited to participate in STARBASE activities with our 5th grade students. STARBASE is a program that combines science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) with exciting experiments and hands-on activities to motivate students to explore these subjects as they continue their education.

During one project, the students devised ways to protect an egg strapped into a model space shuttle before the shuttles were launched down a wire into a head-on collision. To culminate the week, the 5th graders took a field trip to Rapid City, South Dakota to visit the Air & Space Museum at Ellsworth Air Force Base. Although the air conditioner on our bus did not work on the way back home, a great time was had by all!

In mid-August, St. Joseph’s Indian School started their fall sports practices. I have been enjoying spending my evenings working on volleyball skills with our 6-8th grade girls. Our first game is in about 10 days!

On Tuesday, one of the 6th grade volleyball girls who has been having a little bit of a tough time adjusting asked me if I would join her during Thursday’s cross country practice. As a 6th grader, it takes a lot of courage to put yourself out there, so of course I said yes! Since I am not a runner, I would greatly appreciate your prayers and good thoughts today after school!

Thank you for your generosity and support. You are truly making a difference in the lives of the Lakota students here in our care. They are becoming phenomenal young men and women because of YOU!

Kelli Swenson

Development/Child Services Liaison

Greetings from Fr. Anthony

By now, you have probably heard that with Fr. Steve’s election to be our new Provincial, I have been asked to oversee operations until a more permanent replacement can be found.  I have been in touch with you before, when Fr. Steve has been away on donor luncheons.  We may also have crossed paths at St. Joseph’s powwow celebrations over the last four years.  I look forward to sharing what is happening here on campus at St. Joseph’s Indian School.

This past Thursday was Independence Day and we had lots of visitors in our South Dakota town, camping and fishing out on the Missouri River.  Many also stopped by to visit the Akta Lakota Museum & Cultural Center, and our new addition, the Tokéya uŋkí nájiŋpi Alumni & Historical Center. A few alumni stopped by as well.

The big event of the evening was the fireworks display over the river.  Fr. Jose and I had intended to watch them from our residence here on campus, since we have  a beautiful view of the river, but the bugs and mosquitoes had other ideas!  We went up to the rest area out on Interstate 90, which overlooks Chamberlain, and sat in the car to avoid being eaten alive.  While there were some beautiful explosions during the 20-minute program, the locals also were putting on a great show before and after.

Every year, the Race on the River is part of the 4th of July activities in Chamberlain, and it usually starts here on campus and then heads into town.  We had to re-configure the route this year since much of the campus is undergoing some repair and fix-ups, which required our roads being torn up at this time.  As a result, there was no way to make a complete circle around campus.  We hope to have everything up and running by the start of the school year on August 12.

Fr. Anthony takes a break on the playground with the Lakota children.
Fr. Anthony visits with St. Joseph’s summer students on the playground.

The Lakota students still on campus for our summer program went to Mitchell, South Dakota, last week for an outing and decided to stay for the double feature at the local drive-in theater.  When trying to enjoy such a treat, we pay for it by being at the end of the line for the Central Time Zone.  The Mountain Time Zone is about a hundred miles west, so our evenings tend to stay light for a long time.  Sunset comes around 10 PM and the movie had to wait until the skies darkened completely.  They saw Monsters’ University and Despicable Me 2; but they did not get home until nearly 3:00 AM since Mitchell is over an hour away.  Needless to say, there was a sleep-in the next day.

While I was home for a brief vacation about two weeks ago, I had the chance to concelebrate Mass at the parish nearest to where my mother resides in the San Antonio area.  The people were very friendly and asked where my parish was, but when I told them I was from South Dakota and served as chaplain at St. Joseph’s Indian School , several said ‘I’ve been there’ and/or ‘I contribute to your school.’

They are excited to meet someone in the flesh from St. Joseph’s, and I am happy to interact with some of our benefactors and answer any questions they may have and assure them that our students and staff our very grateful for their generosity and that we keep you all in our prayers.

Speaking of prayers, a benefactor from Oklahoma recently sent in a request that we keep the people of Norman in our prayers due to the destruction from the tornadoes that went through the area recently.  I feel it is important to pass along since, as I was driving down and back from Texas, I went through the Norman area on Interstate 35 and you could still see the effects of the storm. It was amazing to see some homes gone completely and other homes right nearby that had very little damage at all. Please say a prayer or two that we can rally to help support and encourage our fellow citizens who have a long road to recovery ahead of them.

I hope your 4th of July weekend went well and that you enjoyed whatever activities you and your family and friends took part in! May we not just celebrate, but also be good citizens and help our country be the best it can be as a model of freedom, justice and peace.

Have a great week ahead and may the Great Spirit bless and reward you.


Fr. Anthony Kluckman, SCJ


PS  Fr. Steve made it home from his most recent donor luncheons in Michigan and Indiana. He also had some time to squeeze in a brief visit with his family.  Please continue to keep him in your prayers that the Holy Spirit will guide and strengthen him as he prepares to assume the responsibility of guiding our Province into the future for the next three years.

Thanking Donors in Delaware and Philadelphia

Last weekend, a group of us traveled to Dover, Delaware and Conshohocken, Pennsylvania (just outside Philadelphia) for donor appreciation luncheons. Eighth grader Deavontay and seventh grader Keaytan were the guests of honor as they shared with folks about their routines and adventures at St. Joseph’s Indian School. The boys were great travelers, and enjoyed meeting about 70 guests each day who journeyed to the luncheons. The donors were most kind and hospitable, filled with insightful questions and lots of enthusiasm and encouragement for the Native American youngsters.

One man was a cancer survivor. Upon learning I’m going on three years since surgery to remove cancer, he took off a green wristband he had made for himself and gave it to me.

The words engraved on it are “never give up.”

That’s a good message not just for me, but also for St. Joseph’s Lakota students as they pursue their dreams.

St. Joseph’s students and staff at Independence Hall.
One of our first stops in Philadelphia was Independence Hall.
Seeing the Liberty Bell helped history come alive for the Lakota boys.
Seeing artifacts of the past – like the Liberty Bell – helps history come alive!

Upon meeting me, many people say, “I know you from your pictures.” I heard that often on our trip, but in addition I had to laugh when one woman said to me afterwards, “you’re nothing like I pictured you; you’re lots of fun!”

I’m glad she found the afternoon lively. I really do love the mission at St. Joseph’s and am glad that joy comes out.

We flew into Philadelphia with the students gawking out the window at the widespread city below. When I asked them about places they wanted to see and experience, our first goal was to taste a genuine Philly Cheesesteak for lunch. The weather was perfect for walking to stretch after a long flight and explore a colorful South Philly neighborhood. We tried Pat’s King of Steaks and sat at a picnic table outside to enjoy a mouth-watering sandwich that hit the spot.

The Native American boys and their teacher enjoy a genuine Philly Cheesesteak.
It was a beautiful day to enjoy a Philly Cheesesteak!

Downtown, we saw the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, Betsy Ross’s home and Benjamin Franklin’s grave. My favorite was the portrait gallery in the Second Bank of the United States, with iconic paintings of famous Americans we recognized from history books. Actually seeing places and artifacts instead of just reading about them makes history come alive!

Sunday afternoon, we were able to spend some time at Valley Forge and learn of the hardships the Revolutionary patriots endured through some harsh winter months.

I’ve traveled a lot both before and since coming to St. Joseph’s, but I’d never been to Delaware before. The First State was my 48th, leaving only Hawaii and Alabama that I’ve yet to visit. St. Joseph’s is planning to visit Alabama a year from now. We have no Hawaii travel plans set, but if we ever go there, I’ve already had many people say they’ll volunteer to chaperone!

The Lakota (Sioux) boys learned about the Revolutionary War at Valley Forge.
Sunday, we visited Valley Forge.

Dance, Dance!

Hello from 6-7-8th grade Residential!

‘Twas the day of the dance, when all across campus

Students were primping in anticipation

The hairstyles and clothes were donned with care

In hopes of meeting that someone special there

Last year, St. Joseph’s Indian School started the tradition of hosting a dance for our sixth, seventh and eighth grade Lakota students.  We invite the Chamberlain public school students to campus to join with our students at the dance, which helps build community among them.

As part of St. Joseph’s strategic plan, we are being challenged to provide more opportunities to build relationships between our students and students from the local public school.  We believe this will help them in many ways but specifically, once they reach high school, better relationships will make that transition smoother.  Hosting community dances like this is a great way to help youth get to know one another.  It also gives the students a chance to use their social skills and practice mastery in that area.

St. Joseph’s Lakota students invited Chamberlain students to their dance in an effort to build relationships.
The Lakota students had a great time dancing the night away!

Watching the process during the dance is fun for me and very similar, I think, to everyone’s experience at junior high dances. At first, all the students stand to the side looking at each other shyly.  They all seem to be hesitant to get out on the floor and strut their stuff.

St. Joseph’s older Native American students help with activities for younger students.
Chris, a St. Joseph’s senior, and Andrea, a St. Joseph’s alumnae, served as DJ’s for the junior high dance.

After a couple of songs, however, a few of the girls get brave and start dancing. Before long, more and more are joining in on the floor.  By the end of the night, everyone has gotten on the floor at least once. The students’ process of slowly warming up and finally dancing demonstrates growth in the area of independence.

As usual, when the lights came on at the end, there was a collective moan from the crowd wanting more music and more dancing!

Chris, one of our high school seniors, and alumnae Andrea provided the DJ service for the dance. They did a great job getting the students on the floor dancing and involved.

The admission fee to the dance was $2 or two cans of food at the door.  We were able to collect 156 food items for the local food pantry and around $30 at the door to donate to a local charity.  This speaks to the Lakota (Sioux) value of generosity and helping our community when we can.

All these lessons are very important and piece of what we try to teach our students every day at St. Joseph’s Indian School. These experiences give the students an opportunity to learn firsthand lessons that we hope stay with them for life.

Without your support and prayers, none of this would possible. Thanks to all that support our work.  We couldn’t do it with you!

Frank W.

Residential Coordinator

Snow in April

The Lakota children enjoyed mild temperatures while playing in the April snow!
An unpredictable South Dakota spring brought lots of snow, but mild temperatures.

As St. Joseph’s Indian School starts to wind down for the year, several factors have come in to play this spring.  It is unbelievable the amount of snow we have received in South Dakota for the month of April!!  St. Joseph’s even missed a day of school due to the weather – that rarely happens since our Lakota students live on campus.  The students truly enjoyed being outside to play in the snow as the temperature was in the low 30’s, which is relatively warm.

St. Joseph’s track team has been diligently practicing, either in the Recreation Center because of snow or outside when the weather is clear. Needless to say, with all the snow, our track meets have been canceled so far.  We are hoping that the next one on Monday will take place as the temperatures are suppose to be in the 70s. Hurrah for the Glorious South Dakota Sunshine!!

Last week, I was involved with the Mr. Relay For Life Pageant that St. Joseph’s Relay For Life hosted at the Oacoma Community Center. The pageant was a spin-off of the Miss American Pageant, but with gentlemen of the community participating as contestants.

It was awesome to see the wonderful turnout from the community to support us in our endeavor to raise money for the fight against cancer! Of course, it really helped that our gentleman were such great sports with their choice of evening wear, talent and interview questions for the night’s competition.  It was an evening enjoyed by many family and community members.

I would like to thank all of St. Joseph’s donors for your support and donations throughout the school year.   You are a blessing to our school and the Native American students.

“Wealth and honor come from you O’Lord; you are the ruler of all things.
In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all.

–Chronicles 29:12–

The Lakota students enjoyed playing in the snow in April!
A mild April day is perfect for making a snow dinosaur!

On a slushy, icy morning

On a slushy, icy morning this week, a garbage truck knocked over an electrical pole in downtown Chamberlain and knocked out power to St. Joseph’s whole campus just as school was beginning. Teachers had to scramble with their lesson plans, and go back to pre-technology activities like reading poetry and solving math problems with pencil and paper. The classrooms have enough windows and natural lighting to get by, but the littlest Lakota students were reluctant to go into the darkened bathrooms and were very relieved when the lights finally came on an hour later.

Over the weekend, the Hogebach Home (HS girls) made a trip to the Twin Cities in Minnesota. I stopped by their home for supper to hear all about their adventures. For many, their favorite event was shopping. I’ve been to the Mall of America before and was overwhelmed by too many choices.  But they loved the variety, and were even happy window shopping before making a choice. Most of the students in this home work part time jobs, so they had saved up money to buy some fashions not easily found in our small South Dakota town.

When our St. Joseph’s homes travel as a group, we ask them to include some educational or vocational activity during their time.

Erika, one of our seniors, has been accepted to an art school in the Twin Cities, and made a special visit to campus to receive more information and orientation. She and houseparent Robb were impressed and pleased by what they heard and saw.

Many of our students come from low-income families and often qualify for grants and financial aid. St. Joseph’s also helps with some scholarships. I tell our students that if they have the perseverance to stay in school and do well with their studies, we will help them find the funds to make it through.