Walking the Red Path: St. Joseph’s Indian School Event Emphasizes Healthy Living

Posted on: April 27, 2021

Each spring for the past 26 years, students and staff at St. Joseph’s Indian School walk for sobriety in April, starting on campus and splitting into the four directions sacred to Native Americans. In addition to the health benefits of walking, to “walk the Red Path” in Native American spirituality means living in healthy spiritual, physical, mental and emotional balance.

This year, the walk stayed on campus and practiced the social distancing the times demand. The school’s equine therapy horses added spirit, with one or two horses guiding each of four grade-level communities on separate walks. Facebook Live captured students skipping alongside horse Violet, having fun despite the South Dakota winds. Students wore T-shirts bearing the Black Elk quote, “May you always walk in beauty.” Black Elk, an Oglala Lakota holy man, is revered by the students and nominated for sainthood in the Catholic Church.

The walk is one of several yearly events created by St. Joseph’s Indian School’s Substance Abuse Prevention Committee to show students how to enjoy life without drugs and alcohol. Chris Blasius leads this committee and is the Prevention and Residential Support Associate at St. Joseph’s Indian School.

“Native Americans are disproportionately affected by substance abuse compared to other ethnic groups, and almost all of the children here have been affected by substance abuse at some point in their young lives. If not within their immediate families, they’ve seen the devastating effects of drugs and alcohol in their extended families and communities,” said Blasius. “St. Joseph’s Indian School emphasizes prevention as a critical component of helping students become healthy adults.”