The value of giving back

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.

A school bus that will house a video educating visitors about the history of Indian Boarding Schools.
A school bus that will house a video educating visitors about the history of Indian Boarding Schools.

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.

Guest Blogger: Dixie

Hello everyone, here is a quick update on what is happening at the Akta Lakota Museum & Cultural Center!

The new Historical/Alumni Center addition is complete! Visitors can now access the museum through the new front entrance.

The exhibits for the Historical Center are in the process of being fabricated by Split Rock Studios.  The installation process is scheduled for December 2012 – February 2013. Split Rock Studios will be working on site during this time; I understand that the exhibit installation is an interesting process and invite everyone to stop over and explore the progress.

Over the past few weeks, we have moved our museum collection out of the old storage building into our new collection storage space.  Sara C. our Curator/Conservator has moved into her lab space and will now begin the process of re-housing our collection in our new space.

Last week we were busy dismantling museum exhibits and moving out of the museum classroom and Collector’s Gallery, preparing for the next phase of the construction project.

This week, Phase II began! The contractors started enclosing the space to the east side of the museum that will undergo renovation.   In this area we will be removing the reception desk and expanding the Camp Circle story line to chronicle the importance of childhood and adolescence among the Plains tribes.  The Collector’s Gallery area will be opened up to make room for the additional exhibits. The existing entrance and bathrooms will be removed and replaced with additional gift shop space.

There is still a lot of site work and landscaping that needs to be done around the building; some of this work is in progress now and some will be delayed until next spring.

The museum will remain open to the public during this construction phase, though there will be periods of time that will require us to close.

Throughout this project we have relied heavily on assistance from our Facilities team and I would like to thank Tom, Gary, Quentin and their staff for all they have done.   We have a great Facilities crew; no matter what the task is they get right after it.  Thank you!