Palm Sunday, Lakota Mass at St. Joseph’s Indian School

Holy Week began yesterday morning here at St. Joseph’s Indian School. Outside, the South Dakota wind gusted across the prairie at 20-30 miles per hour. The cool

Mike, St. Joseph's President
Mike, St. Joseph’s President

nature of the wind and the sound of its force against the walls and windows of the chapel provided the setting for our morning. The Spirit was moving!


As students, staff and a few visitors gathered in the Our Lady of the Sioux Chapel, our Palm Sunday Service began with Fr. Anthony blessing the palms. Deacon Bud proclaimed the Gospel of our Lord’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem. The assembly dispersed to the hallways on either side of the chapel to re-enact the procession along the road that Jesus traveled.


Our Lady of the Sioux Chapel ready for Palm Sunday.
Palm Sunday in Our Lady of the Sioux Chapel at St. Joseph’s Indian School.

Banner carriers holding the colors of the Four Directions led the assembly back into the chapel accompanied by our student drum group singing and playing a traditional song. Everyone found their places and held their palms high as our dancers processed forth in traditional regalia down the center aisle. They were followed by the Eagle Staff Bearer, altar servers, Fr. Anthony and Deacon Bud. It was quite the multi-cultural celebration of our traditional Palm Sunday.


The morning’s Lakota liturgy also included the Lord’s Prayer said in Lakota and Amazing Grace sung by our student choir in both Lakota and English. Mass ended with our weekly Happy Birthday announcements and acknowledgement sung in Lakota, “Nita anpetu waste.”


I describe this celebration because I was awed by how our Catholic traditions and elements of the Lakota (Sioux) culture blended at this Palm Sunday Mass.


Not only was it great to see our students involved in dancing, playing the drums, speaking the language and singing, but also the colors, the movement and the language enhanced the meaning of the liturgy.


As we entered into the holiest of weeks in our Church year, one that begins with triumph and endures through crucifixion to Easter glory, the blending of our culture and our common history and humanity spoke powerfully of the mystery we celebrate.

The Eagle Staff leads the procession into Mass at Our Lady of the Sioux Chapel.
Catholic and Lakota traditions meet with the Eagle Staff leading the procession into Mass.


At St. Joseph’s, we provide our students with a holistic array of services, thanks to the generosity of friends like you. Through the support of many, their hands and feet in solidarity with our mission, we are able to carry this important ministry, helping children and families.


Yesterday’s Palm Sunday Service was one of many ways we look to preserve the Lakota culture for our students.


Pilamayathank you – for providing these opportunities!


Mike, St. Joseph’s President

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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