American Indian Catholic Schools Network Summit in Chamberlain
“Let us put our minds together and see what life we will make for our children,” instructed Húŋkpapȟa Lakota leader Sitting Bull. In much the same spirit, the American Indian Catholic Schools Network (AICSN) board gathered for its Fall Summit at St. Joseph’s Indian School October 20-22.
The board heard three talks presented by Damian Costello, theologian and Director of Post-Graduate Studies at NAIITS. He is the author of Black Elk: Colonialism and Lakota Catholicism. With Black Elk as the guide, he led the group to reflect on the potential to be fully Native American and fully Catholic.
Bundling against the somewhat overnight change to brisk fall weather, the board also toured St. Joseph’s campus and Our Lady of the Sioux Chapel, took part in their annual summit meeting, shared news and challenges, prayed and enjoyed each other’s company.
Members of the board in attendance included representation from Red Cloud, Pine Ridge, S.D.; St. Augustine, Winnebago, Neb.; St. Joseph’s, San Fidel, N.M.; St. Charles, San Carlos, Ariz.; St. Mary’s, Red Lake, Minn.; and host St. Joseph’s Indian School. Also in attendance were William Newkirk, Director of AICSN,
Sr. Kathleen Carr from the Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) and Andreas Hipple of the Better Way Foundation. De LaSalle Blackfeet School, Browning, Mont., was unable to attend due to a last-minute issue.
St. Joseph’s Indian School’s President Mike Tyrell said, “It is an honor to have all of you on campus and to share this time with you. The mutual support and dynamic exchange of ideas that has resulted from our membership in AICSN truly enriches us, just as I hope your time here on our campus enriches you.”
AICSN, an ACE program out of the University of Notre Dame, is a network of Native schools representing the Acoma, Blackfeet, Laguna, Lakota, Ojibwe, Omaha, San Carlos Apache and Winnebago Indian tribes. AICSN provides a foundation of mutual leadership that encourages and supports member schools in their ministries while strengthening the group’s collective ability to fulfill its mission. AICSN engages member schools in collaboration and supports staff through educational offerings and more.
The Better Way Foundation is a family foundation rooted in Catholic social values that invests in systemic, holistic and evidence-based approaches that support the positive development of all children.