Another Successful Cultural Trip in the Books at St. Joseph’s Indian School

The Moon When the Leaves are Green hangs over Matȟó Pahá.

On Thursday, May 16, the 21 seventh-grade students of St. Joseph’s Indian School prayed and smudged before embarking on the trip that has become a rite of passage.

The journey, which comprises five days of traveling to important cultural sites and reflecting upon the lives of their ancestors, prepares them to become leaders at school and in life. On Tuesday, May 21, they worked on presentations about their experience to share their learning with younger students and step into their leadership roles for the coming year.

Months of preparation included learning about the cultural, spiritual and historical significance of their Lakota ancestors’ sacred sites on the trip:

  • Matȟó PaháBear Butte
  • PhešláBald Area
  • Heȟáka Sapa HeBlack Elk Peak
  • Tȟašúŋke WitkóCrazy Horse Memorial
  • Matȟó ThípilaBear’s Lodge
  • Wašúŋ Wičhóniya WakȟáŋWind Cave
  • Pheži Slá Okíčhize OwáŋkaBattle of Greasy Grass/Little Big Horn
  • Čhaŋkpé ÓpiWounded Knee

Following the path of their ancestors and cultural icons, the trip’s goal is the spiritual, physical and emotional growth that forms them young people into tomorrow’s leaders.

Mykah, a student, said she especially enjoyed Black Elk Peak. “To be where my ancestors were” felt special to her.

For James, climbing around and exploring the Badlands was the best part. Cell phones were left behind for the trip. When asked how he felt about that, James said, “It was better without phones,” acknowledging they can be distracting.

The Crazy Horse Memorial moved Tristine. Of Korczak Ziolkowski and the others who have worked on and continue the monument’s construction, she noted how they have “dedicated their lives to show our history.”

Ponting to the Crocs on his feet, Brayden said proudly, “These are the very Crocs I wore when I climbed Bear Butte and Black Elk Peak.” For him, the hikes were the best part of the trip.

There were many highlights for Braxton – Sunday at Crazy Horse, learning about the Battle of Little Big Horn and the Native sharpshooter – but he kept going back to Evan’s Plunge as his favorite. “Except, maybe, when we all sang to the music on the bus on the way back from Matȟó Thípila,” he said.

The groups travel separately as boys and girls. This split is in keeping with the traditional instruction in ways of maturing. On this seventeenth anniversary trip, each day concluded by gathering in a circle, where students reflected on the day’s experiences and their implications for their understanding of leadership.

To learn more about the Lakota culture programs at St. Joseph’s Indian School, visit today!

Author: St. Joseph's Indian School

At St. Joseph's Indian School, our privately-funded programs for Lakota (Sioux) children in need have evolved over 90 years of family partnership, experience and education. Because of generous friends who share tax-deductible donations, Native American youth receive a safe, stable home life; individual counseling and guidance; carefully planned curriculum based on Lakota culture and individual student needs and tools to help build confidence, boost self-esteem and improve cultural awareness. All of this helps children to live a bright, productive, possibility-filled future.

3 thoughts on “Another Successful Cultural Trip in the Books at St. Joseph’s Indian School”

  1. Having a special interest in Native American histiry, cultures and issues, I have visited all but one of these places, some more than once. Each was a moving experience as my mind went back in time. They are so much more than tourist attractions! I am so glad these students had this experience.
    I am a supporter of St Joseph’s and have had the opportunity to come to the campus many times over the years. So proud of all the progress I have seen there and what you offer these future leaders.

  2. my wife and i had the good fortune to also travel to many of these special sites ! it was heart felt for me as my spirit was greatly move to just be able to stand on this holy ground! even with the many animals i come in contact with, my spirit is also move in a special way. it is a closeness , a one, feeling of great love for our creator!!!! i am so glad to hear the school incorperates the old cultures which is so important to the young adults upbringing! bless you all at the school for what you do for these young adults!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! jim

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