Two from St. Joseph’s Indian School Win National Honors

LaRayne Woster and Tayeden Seeking Land received National Honors on October 13, 2021.

A sincere sense of self is the character trait shared by two St. Joseph’s Indian School colleagues that made them standouts to win national awards announced at the Coalition on Residential Excellence (CORE) Banquet in Mooseheart, Ill., Wednesday evening, October 13, 2021.

LaRayne Woster of Chamberlain, S.D., received the Catherine Hershey Award “Educator of the Year,” and Tayeden Seeking Land of Bad Nation on the Crow Creek Reservation was honored as Catherine Hershey “Student of the Year.”

Woster is in her 19th year teaching Native American Studies at St. Joseph’s. Seeking Land is a 2021 graduate of the school’s High School Program and attended the school since fourth grade.

Woster’s nomination cited her childhood identity rooted in fascinations with the numbers four and seven, the red dirt of the Plains, opportunities to dance, making wóžapi with her grandmother, the storms and the stars.

“I was in touch with elements of my Lakota identity early on,” said Woster. “But I didn’t know what they were.”

When she took Native American Studies in her early thirties, the constellation of her childhood attachments came together for her as the Sacred Hoop of her Lakota heritage coursing through her veins.

That constellation-coalescing experience is the source of the energy she brings to her role as St. Joseph’s Indian School’s Native American Studies Lead.

“Today, I want to give our students pride and understanding of their cultural identity and lead them to participate in the preservation of their Lakota language.”

Seeking Land’s nomination said, “To describe Tayeden Seeking Land in as few words as possible, we would do reasonably well to call him a wise and gentle soul.”

His Family Service Counselor said, “What makes Tayeden special is that he is one of the kindest, most thoughtful and level-headed students with whom I have ever worked.” He brings a deliberate sensitivity to his problem-solving and decision-making that is wise beyond his very young adulthood.

During his junior year of high school, Seeking Land added training to become a certified nursing assistant (CNA) to his already well-disciplined educational load. He completed the rigorous program. For the rest of his high school year’s he provided excellent care for those who could not do their activities of daily living.

A houseparent shared his shock when at 18, Seeking Land approached him to discuss opening a Roth IRA. It is unlikely that anyone ever spoke with him about retirement or money management, yet he has come to know the value of earning a living and planning for a far-off future in his own quiet wisdom.

He is currently working as a CNA at Sanford Health Long-Term Care, Chamberlain, S.D. He plans to begin studies in the medical field at South Dakota State University, Brookings, S.D., or the University of South Dakota, Vermillion, S.D.

St. Joseph’s Indian School salutes these two remarkable people who bring so much to the organization and to all whose lives they touch.

St. Joseph’s Indian School transforms lives—mind, body, heart and spirit—every day. Learn more about us at

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.

7 thoughts on “Two from St. Joseph’s Indian School Win National Honors”

  1. God bless you both and congratulations to you both!
    You are a source of pride and honor for St. Joseph’s school and are role models for everyone!

  2. Congratulations, Tayeden! I taught high school for 35 years, and I know that if you had been one of my students, you would have been one of my best memories. Good luck to you as you pursue a shining future.
    And LaRayne, my heartiest congratulations to you for this well-deserved honor! You are such an outstanding representative of Lakota culture and of St. Joseph’s School. In fact, you are the reason I decided to become a donor to St. Joseph’s. I called the school last spring seeking pronunciation help with a Lakota song my Native American flute group in Nebraska was going to perform. Your telephoned response to me conveyed so much warmth, graciousness, and enthusiasm for Lakota culture that I decided on the spot to become a donor to the school. The children and your colleagues are so lucky to have you!

  3. So very thrilled for you both. Your achievements are Light for the Stars so that all of us can enjoy the sparkle. I know you will both stand as excellent models for all. So much good will be done in your doing well. Thank you.

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