“No Alarm Clock Needed” When It Comes to Passion for Culture

Posted on: November 27, 2023

The days of November wove a tapestry of Native American stories, language and traditions for the students of St. Joseph’s Indian School as they honored the culture of the Lakota, Dakota and Nakota people from whom they descend. Activities included rich threads of star quilt patterns; reading from “Black Elk Speaks;” hair braiding; the song, dance and prayer of Lakota Mass; mini homemade Winter Counts; National Family Night games; and study of the buffalo, inipi, tipi and more. Best of all, the culture was celebrated throughout campus life – in the school, homes, Rec Center and Chapel.

And, the celebration spilled into the community at large. Perhaps the crescendo of the observance was the invitation by Al’s Oasis staff member Rickie Kunzweiler to perform with the drum and dance for patrons on Saturday, November 18. For students, the experience was nothing short of a profound recognition of the heritage they hold with honor.

Caden Lopez, a sixth-grader and fancy dancer said it best, “No alarm clock needed today. My Passion woke me up.”

Fourth-grader Josephine Sazue proudly wore the dance regalia made by her family and expressed excitement about the gift of new moccasins to replace her dance-worn pair. She found dancing next to the drum in the small space exciting and gratefully chowed down on the tasty meal provided afterward.

Sixth-grader Hehaka Black Lance commented on the experience, “My energy to sing today came from the people around me.” He took several leads to the drum songs.

Freshman Paul Luedke agreed, saying that singing for a whole hour created so much positivity.

Junior Miss St. Joseph’s Persais Swift Hawk expressed pride to have her family in attendance. “My cousins said they wished they were me out there dancing.” Swift Hawk wore regalia created by St. Joseph’s Librarian Claire Nehring and her mother in honor of Nehring’s father, a veteran. The students honored veterans as part of the program.

From everyone at St. Joseph’s, our November gratitude for being a community where our students’ heritage is expressed and enjoyed.