Culture Shines as St. Joseph’s Indian School Celebrates Native American Week

Posted on: October 16, 2023

While others celebrated Native American Day on October 9, staff and students at St. Joseph’s Indian School extended the cultural celebration from Sunday to Sunday plumbing the richness and diverse dimensions of their heritage through prayer, dance, study plans, lessons from the bow and arrow, clothing and art.

Sunday, October 10, began the eight-day observance with a Lakota Mass incorporating prayer, dance, drumming and song from the Lakota tradition. On hand for the experience were close to one hundred visitors from ministries of the Priests of the Sacred Heart across the United States who are gathering through Tuesday for Mission Education.

Monday morning began with the Four Directions Prayer Service. The cool fall morning and a dusting of autumn color were the backdrop for this traditional Native American Prayer attended by students and staff and visitors from across campus and around the country. The afternoon brought a social dance on the lawn of the Wisdom Circle. High School students made a float and participated in the Sioux Falls Native American Day Parade.

Tuesday’s lessons throughout the grade school came from the South Dakota Education Association’s Očeti Šakówiŋ Essential Understandings designed to promote cultural understanding of the Lakota, Dakota and Nakota people.

On Wednesday, Lakota historian, writer, teacher, craftsman, administrator, actor and public speaker Joseph Marshall III taught traditional Lakota bow and arrow techniques and wisdom to students from grades seven through 12. Marshall is a frequent guest on the school’s Hóčhoka podcast and taped for the spring season on Friday. Other classes enjoyed traditional archery in physical education classes throughout the week. Third grader Cyrus Bird exclaimed, “That was so much fun. Can we do it again?”

Thursday was “Identity Day,” when students dressed in ribbon skirts, ribbon shirts, moccasins and other cultural apparel.

Friday found students enjoying the Akta Lakota Museum’s visiting exhibit, “Navigating Narratives: The Corps of Discovery in Titowan Territory.”

After a Saturday pause, on Sunday, freshmen and sophomore students participated in the second annual Wičhóni Wašte (Good Life) Retreat that took them to the Badlands of South Dakota. The terrain provided the backdrop for exploring life’s peaks and valleys through critical reflection on themselves and their purpose in life.