First Wičhóni Wašte Day Builds Connections for Students at St. Joseph’s Indian School

Angelina (left) and Shayla (right) scale a Badlands peak during the day of reflection. Katelyn charts her path.

A new beginning was marked for freshman and sophomore students at St. Joseph’s Indian School as they embarked on the first-ever Wičhóni Wašte (Good Life) Retreat. After consulting with Mount Marty University and the University of Notre Dame regarding similar experiences those schools provide, St. Joseph’s developed the retreat day in response to student feedback.

Mission Integration Director Joe Tyrell and Data and Program Analyst Michelle Eggers began to think about the need for such an experience when data indicated that the first semester of a high school year appeared to result in more student withdrawals. Tyrell asked students what the Mission Integration Team might provide to support them better. Feedback led Tyrell to develop a culturally appropriate experience for students at St. Joseph’s.

Following a Sunday Mass in November, 13 students and two staff piled into a bus and headed for the Badlands. The terrain provided the backdrop for exploring life’s peaks and valleys through critical reflection on themselves and their purpose in life. The goal was to offer a day of community, culture and relationship building.

Sophomore Kaiden reflected, “I am very thankful for the trip. It was an amazing experience.”

Freshman Latoya agreed, saying, “I thought about my life and how I can accomplish my goals and make my way to the peaks.”

A similar experience is in the works next spring for junior and senior students in the school’s high school program at sacred sites Bear Butte and Black Elk Peak.

To learn more about St. Joseph’s Indian School, visit

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.

5 thoughts on “First Wičhóni Wašte Day Builds Connections for Students at St. Joseph’s Indian School”

  1. Great luck on your Wichoni Waste program, it sounds like it is working very well for your wonderful students. So enriching to appreciate the peaks and valleys in ones life and others and appreciate the Native American culture.
    I just had this very spiritual and beautiful Lakota prayer emailed to you and would like to share it as it is so necessary in these troubled days on Mother Earth:
    Lakota Prayer
    Great Mystery,
    teach me how to trust
    my heart,
    my mind,
    my intuition,
    my inner knowing,
    the senses of my body,
    the blessings of my spirit.
    Teach me to trust these things
    so that I may enter my Sacred Space
    and love beyond the fear,
    and thus Walk in Balance
    with the passing of each glorious Sun.

  2. They look great and I am sure the girls really were happy. Hope the package I sent has arrived and all the students and even some of the teachers can have new clothes to wear and keep them warm.

  3. Again, a perfect example of the worth and wonder of the Lakota Sioux experience. Centuries of beloved, brave and worthy expression seem once again to be brought forth to the current young Lakota people. Those who are here now to bring back the glory and beauty of those old grand ones and who do so with courage and bravery and cheer. You have so very much to be proud of. Follow that along and enjoy being Lakota! Love and Light to you all.

    1. This is wonderful and I appreciate all of the people with St. Joseph’s Indian School as many were from Georgia. We love that they continue to pray and that God created them a long time ago. God Bless all of you!

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