St. Joseph’s Indian School Celebrates Native American Week

Students, grades 1-8, participated in not just one day of celebrating their Native American culture. Instead, St. Joseph’s celebrated all week!

As the sun peaked over the dark eastern horizon, bright shades of red and yellow, fringed by the white edge of a band of stratocumulus clouds spelled out “This is Native American Day,” in the traditional colors of the Lakota people. Thirty minutes after the sun rose, St. Joseph’s Indian School students and staff gathered at the school’s Wisdom Circle to pray the Four Directions Prayer.

While others observed Native American Day on October 11, St. Joseph’s Indian School was just getting started with what became an entire week of education and fun.

The school’s cultural committee put their heads together and laid out a terrific plan for students, school staff and anyone else who joined in celebrating the students’ cultural heritage.

Later on Monday, students participated in a scavenger hunt at the Aktá Lakota Museum, sleuthing through its rich educational resources to learn more about their culture.

Students participated in a scavenger hunt in the Aktá Lakota Museum.

“The games in the museum scavenger hunt were very challenging to play because you have to place a deer bone on a needle,” remarked seventh-grader Emilia .

“I didn’t know we had games,” added classmate Paul.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, teachers and Museum Curator David Meyer II focused on the current Center for American Indian and Native Studies (CAIRNS) art exhibit, “The Gift.” Through artwork, poetry and song, the exhibit illustrates a traditional Lakota narrative on the seven Lakota ceremonies foretold by Black Elk and White Buffalo Calf Woman. The exhibit is at the museum through November.

Seventh-grader Makaia said proudly, “I liked learning about the female ceremonies because we are the birth givers.”

Students learned the cultural meanings behind seven stained glass windows in Our Lady of the Sioux Chapel.

On Thursday, students visited Our Lady of the Sioux Chapel to draw connections between the seven Lakota ceremonies and the stained glass windows that depict them, deepening the learning they experienced in “The Gift” exhibit.

When sixth-grader Alayna visited the museum and then the Chapel, she said, “I want to do a Vision Quest now.” Classmate Marybella added that the two experiences made her feel connected to her ancestors, and sixth grader Kayleigha agreed, saying, “This makes me feel like I can do anything.”

As a grand finale of Native American Week, St. Joseph’s hosted a casual, just-for-fun powwow. The round dance, potato dance, rabbit dance, switch dance, and snake dance were all part of the celebration!

On Friday, everyone dusted off their moccasins for a powwow. The Chalk Hills Singers Drum Group — Pahá Makȟásaŋ Lowáŋpi – set the beat for the featured dances: rabbit dance, potato dance, switch dance and snake dance. Anticipation of this event was notably tricky for the second graders who mentioned they couldn’t wait for it nearly every hour, every day, all week long.

Throughout the week, students and staff enjoyed the Seven Essential Understandings of the Očhéti Šakówiŋ, the state’s Native American cultural curriculum studied year ‘round at St. Joseph’s Indian School.

Learn more about the Lakota culture by visiting www.stjo.org/culture

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.

4 thoughts on “St. Joseph’s Indian School Celebrates Native American Week”

  1. congratulations on your culture and educational opportunity explored, feed that thirst for knowlege!! learn new ways but be sure to keep the old ways and traditions!! i pray for you all regularly!!

  2. Love and respect your Lakota Sioux history and traditions; embrace these things, be with them all your life and you will know success of the mind, heart and spirit. I am in awe of you.

  3. I enjoy your letters and to see the beautiful faces of the children. I have book marks from you with pictures of some of the same children on all of them; it is fun to see them mature. My mother was 1/2 Indian and two of my five children have the high cheekbones, get very tan in summer, and the dark hair the same way my mother and I did; my mother had it a little bad being part Indian and married to a white man; Thank God that people are wiser now. I now at 87 have white hair but it was very dark when I was young. My husband and I have always wanted to come to St. Joe’s, but never could make it and now we are too old; but know we have followed you for years and thank you for being so kind to let us enjoy you. God Bless You All

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