Holiday breaks give me a good excuse to go to church on the nearby Indian Reservations. On Thanksgiving Day, I drove north to Fort Thompson, where a crowd of about 70 gathered to give thanks at mass. Afterwards Sr. Charles, who has worked in the parish and among the Dakota parishioners for over 30 years, cooked three turkeys so anyone in the community who might otherwise be alone, or have a hard time putting together a festive meal, could celebrate the holiday.
Friday was a very quiet day around campus and the office. I got a good start on a lot of the upcoming Christmas correspondence, and tied up loose ends from last week’s travels.
I checked on the break home to see if they needed anything, but everything was going well. A few more high school students came back on Friday so they can take part in basketball practices, but otherwise things have been quiet. The small group went to St. James parish in downtown Chamberlain for their community Thanksgiving dinner, and stayed afterward to help clean up.
Our homes try to involved the students in service projects like that throughout the year, and teach them the value of giving back generously.
Today, I visited Split Rock Studios in St. Paul Minnesota. They are constructing the displays for our Historical Center. Many are nearing completion and hopefully installation will begin in January. I saw the construction of a school bus that will house a video educating visitors about the history of Indian Boarding Schools. A table made from one of our oldest cottonwood trees that was felled in the building project sat next to a replica tree whose leaves will be filled with alumni memories from their days at St. Joseph. Artifacts like old desks, wheel barrows and dance regalia will help tell the story as well.
What jumped out the most for me was to see photo cut outs of some of our Lakota students, and a few larger than life murals created from images I see around me each day. We hope to have a grand opening in late spring or early summer.