Frequently Asked Questions

Here are the answers to questions frequently asked by those interested in St. Joseph’s Indian School. Please contact us if you have a question.

How many children attend St. Joseph’s Indian School?

More than 200 Native American students attend school and live in the 18 residences on campus. Students in first through eighth grade attend our elementary school on campus. Students in ninth through twelfth grade attend Chamberlain High School.

Where are you located?

St. Joseph’s Indian School is in Chamberlain, S.D., where Interstate 90 crosses the Missouri River. Learn more about Chamberlain here:

Aren’t you on a Native American reservation?

No. When Fr. Henry Hogebach, SCJ first searched for a location on the Cheyenne River Reservation, he was unable to locate a site with an available water source. He learned the Columbus College campus in Chamberlain, S.D., was available, and it was equipped with buildings. He purchased the property for $40,000 in April 1927, and school began that fall. It has remained at that location ever since.

What is the campus like?

The campus is described as park-like, and it’s landscaping and location on the river give it that feel. Situated on approximately 55 acres, the facilities include 18 residential homes, a Business Office, the Aktá Lakota Museum & Cultural Center, Our Lady of the Sioux Chapel, the Dehon Health & Family Services Center, St. Joseph’s Indian School, Tipi Press, The Freimann Business Center, the Rec Center and Plant Maintenance Buildings.

Is St. Joseph’s Indian School a Catholic School?

Yes, we are an outreach of the Priests of the Sacred Heart, a Catholic religious order. We serve all Native American children regardless of religious affiliation. All students attend Religious Studies not only based on the teachings of the Catholic Church but also on how those teachings correspond to Native American traditional beliefs and culture. We consider Catholic spirituality and Native American culture the roots and wings of our mission.

How are students admitted to St. Joseph’s Indian School?

Students at St. Joseph’s attend here because their families want them to be here and the children have expressed a desire as well. Parents or guardians complete an application process with Admissions staff, which includes a personal interview with the child and family.

How do students apply to St. Joseph’s Indian School?

To apply for admission to the school, download the application found in the student applications and forms section of this website, print the form(s), fill it out completely and submit it to: Admissions Office, St. Joseph’s Indian School, PO Box 89, Chamberlain, SD 57325. Call (605) 234-3465 if you have questions about the admissions process or need the forms by mail. Note: High school applicants must complete two forms.

What does it cost to attend St. Joseph’s Indian School?

Students attend the school and are provided materials, clothing, meals and residence in a campus home free-of-charge. They are supported by the generosity of our donors. We are privately funded.

Does St. Joseph’s Indian School recruit Native American staff?

The school makes every effort to recruit qualified Native American staff, and Native American staff currently hold positions as administrative assistants, teachers, houseparents, administrators, directors, food services workers and other support service roles. Our mission means partnering with qualified Native American staff is a priority.

What does St. Joseph’s Indian School do to support the students’ families?

Staff is encouraged to build relationships with students’ families. Family Service Counselors, in particular, streamline communication between the organization, students and their families. They visit families in their home communities, seek to learn family needs and connect families with available resources both from the school and in their communities. We frequently help meet immediate needs for food, energy and rent assistance, gas vouchers, transportation and household goods.