Thiyóšpaye Challenge Welcomes Spring to St. Joseph’s Indian School

Posted on: March 21, 2024

On Monday, March 18, A ripple of colorful ribbon skirts caught the breeze in contrast to the winter-dull grass and signaled, “Something special is going on here.” That’s right! This week, while the sun did its vernal equinox balancing act over the equator giving equal energy to the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, students at St. Joseph’s Indian School were busy welcoming spring differently – giving equal energy to academic, cultural, linguistic and athletic pursuits in the school’s first Thiyóšpaye* Challenge.

The three-day challenge pitted students by campus home in competitions that included a hot-shot shoot-off, a Lakȟóta knowledge and culture bowl, a hair-braiding contest, a Lakȟóta language bowl and hand games. An art exhibition showcased student talent.

Monday afternoon, everyone gathered courtside for a staff vs. eighth-grade basketball game. Trinity Sazue, a current staff member and former student brought his talent to the floor in a game that ended in an overtime tie. Third-grader Truth Quick Bear and fifth-grader Rihannah Bordeaux said they enjoyed watching staff try to “dunk it.” Perhaps the shining moment was when Mission Integration Director Joe Tyrell made a half-court shot that won every student a free Powerade.

On hand to help out at the Wednesday morning braiding contest, freshman Amelia LaPointe demonstrated prowess at French braids, deftly plaiting Religious Ed Teacher Kim Schroeder’s hair. Meanwhile, seventh-graders Janessa Blanton and Pte San Thunder Horse worked through the tangles of a lavender wig sported by their teacher Ron Byers. Like every event in the challenge, the hair-braiding competition was a mixture of laughter, skill and mental muscle, as shown by third-grader Patrick Big Eagle as he wrestled to perfect the braiding rhythm on a doll.

Sixth-grader Persais Swift Hawk was all-in about the challenge, wearing her ribbon skirt and mocassins, studying Lakȟóta words, singing hand games songs and practicing braiding in the days that lead up to the competition. “Pinger home is ready!” she exclaimed. Housemate Dallas Hanson concurred. The results of the friendly celebration of rivalry proved they knew just what they were talking about.

Trophies went to homes as follows:

Lakȟóta Culture and Knowledge

First-through-third-grade homes: Ambrose boys

Fourth-through-sixth-grade homes: Pinger girls

Seventh- and eighth-grade homes: Mathias girls

 

Lakȟóta Language Bowl

First-through-third-grade homes: Ambrose boys

Fourth-through-sixth-grade homes: William girls

Seventh- and eighth-grade homes: Stevens girls

 

Hair-Braiding Contest

First-through-third-grade homes: Dennis girls

Fourth-through-sixth-grade homes: Pinger girls

Seventh- and eighth-grade homes: Stevens girls

 

Hand Games Competition

First-through-third-grade homes: Afra girls

Fourth-through-sixth-grade homes: Perky boys

Seventh- and eighth-grade homes: Speyer boys

 

Hot-Shot Competition

First-through-third-grade homes: Dennis girls

Fourth-through-sixth-grade homes: Fisher boys

Seventh- and eighth-grade homes: Rooney boys

* Thiyóšpaye is Lakȟóta for extended family, and includes not only immediate blood relatives but also extends beyond to encompass the broader circle of relationships supported and enriched by life together.