It’s not often you see students out and about at St. Joseph’s Indian School after dark. It’s even less often you see them out after dark dancing in their moccasins to the beat of a Lakota drum.
But, that’s exactly what two high school kids were up to last week in preparation for Rock Your Mocs (RYM)!
Established in 2011, Rock Your Mocs is a worldwide Native American and Indigenous Peoples unity event held virtually during Native American Heritage Month. This year, the event takes place the week of November 14-20. People are invited to wear their moccasins — the traditional footwear of Native Americans — and take a photo or film a video, add the hashtag #ROCKYOURMOCS and upload it to social media. This creates a sort of “online album” for the world to see how Native communities are (quite literally) rocking their moccasins.
“Alright, you ready?” hollered LaRayne, Native Studies lead at St. Joseph’s. “Hókahé!”
The pair of high school students began to dance, flashlights in hand as a playful way to shine a light on their moccasins, to the heartbeat of the drum, played by LaRayne. It was a prelude of what the week to come would bring, including RYM classroom activities and a parade on Wednesday, November 17.
Not every student or staff members arrives to St. Joseph’s with a pair of moccasins of their own. Before the parade, everyone participating was fitted with a pair to wear.
Everyone then stepped out into the chilly November air in unity wearing their moccasins and walked proudly through campus, as staff members cheered.
“I thought the parade today was awesome!” said Trinity, a fifth-grade student at St. Joseph’s. “I walked with my class. It was fun to walk together.”
The event ended with students and staff gathering in Wisdom Circle, located within the center of campus next to Our Lady of the Sioux Chapel. Students and staff came together for a round dance, before dispersing to their campus homes for a meal where they gathered as thiyóšpaye — extended family.
This Rock Your Mocs event was a part of a larger effort for St. Joseph’s Indian School to celebrate Native American Heritage Month. Being a school for Native American children, the Lakota, Dakota and Nakota culture is emphasized daily at our school, but it’s given an even brighter spotlight throughout the month of November.
During the month of November:
- Every female student was fitted for a ribbon skirt, made especially for them and customized to their personal style. (In-depth story to come! Stay tuned.)
- Students made visits to the Aktá Lakota Museum and Cultural Center, an outreach right here on St. Joseph’s campus.
- Students visited Our Lady of the Sioux Chapel to learn about the church’s stained glass windows and various painted and carved symbols, which depict not only Catholic/Christian tradition, but intertwine Lakota tradition, as well.
- A Lakota Mass was held on November 14.
- A St. Joseph’s coloring book was produced, morphing real moments (many of which are cultural) into coloring pages for students, staff and the public to enjoy.
- and so much more!
Native American culture is a living, breathing element in nearly all programming at St. Joseph’s not just during the month of November, but all year round. While joining others for the 30 days in November and shining a focused light on it is important, when December comes, our light doesn’t shut off. It continues. We hope it’s a light that shines for others into the future, as well.
Philámayaye — thank you — to the supporters who make doing this mission-driven work possible.