Friday’s powwow festivities

Friday before powwow, 330 donors took part in the school and cultural activities we offered throughout the day, and attended our banquet that evening. I shook lots of hands and got plenty of hugs as I answered as many questions as I could about St. Joseph’s Indian School and our programs. There are familiar faces that come back for powwow year after year, and I smiled as I recognized them coming through the museum doors. At the banquet I asked for a show of hands who was on their first actual visit to the school, and approximately 80% of the people were first timers. What I heard over and over again, in many different ways, was,

“I had no idea you have so much going on here. I was blown away by the comprehensive nature of your programs and facilities, and how well your school is run.”

While I always appreciate the affirmation, as people look over our programs, they also pass on new ideas that may contribute to ongoing improvement.

Lakota child teaches how to make dreamcatcher.
Liz teaches a friend of St. Joseph’s how to make a dreamcatcher.

Morning held cultural workshops. One favorite is having students teach people to make their own dreamcatcher. We also had presentations on traditional Lakota foods, children’s games, culture and stories. Folks could attend one or several of the workshops, and still have time to browse in the museum. Our students led small groups on tours of the school in the afternoon. They are excited to have visitors, and proud to “show and tell” what goes on in the school. At 3:00, everyone gathered in the Rec Center for the announcement of our 2012 Powwow Royalty. These students will serve as ambassadors and represent St. Joseph’s at different events throughout the year. A group called “Sons of Eagle Horse” then gave a presentation on traditional dance, and included flute songs and hand drumming. They offered our students encouragement about the strength they can draw from Lakota traditions. Lots of the kids joined the circle when it came time for the round dance. Many of the places we do business with make a donation so we can host a nice sit down meal for all our visitors. The crowd was huge, lively and fun. “Lakota George” set a relaxing tone with background flute music One new wrinkle we added this year was to have noted artist and St. Joseph’s alumnus Del Iron Cloud paint a watercolor during the meal. Folks could watch his skill up close, and ask questions about his art. At the end of the night, he auctioned it off and the proceeds went to help with our latest round of home remodeling.

St. Joseph's Indian School alumni painting at their banquet.
Del Iron Cloud painting at St. Joseph’s Indian School’s banquet.

Our fourth graders demonstrated hoop dancing on stage, and showed lots of enthusiasm and athleticism. Then they led the group in a Round Dance, and more than half of the crowd got out of their seats and moved to the beat of the drum. I announced the ten star quilt raffle winners that were drawn earlier in the day. Those went to folks across the country. But we saved one and drew a door prize, and Robert from Nebraska was honored to have such a beautiful symbol of the Lakota (Sioux) culture wrapped around his shoulders to take home with him.

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.

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