After months of preparation, St. Joseph’s incoming eighth-grade class embarked on a week-long trip. Their journey took them to Native American sites of cultural, spiritual and historical significance in South Dakota, North Dakota, Wyoming and Montana. What they learned will help prepare them for their future.

“Each stop was connected to one of the great leaders of the Sioux Nation,” said Tony, a St. Joseph’s houseparent who spearheaded the initial planning process.

Now in its fourth year, the trip follows the same course annually and was carefully planned to help students get the most out of each site. During the school year, students learned about the figures and events that made each point on the map significant.
St. Joseph's students visit Montana. Five states were covered during the week-long excursion.

Bear Butte and Harney Peak, for example, are important spots in the Lakota rite of Hanbleceya - Crying for a Vision. Here, students made tobacco ties and offered prayers to the Great Spirit.

“At some point in their lives, each of these students will need to make a difficult decision, just like Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse or Gall,” said Tony. “When that time comes, I hope they will look back on the places we visited and the things we learned; they will find within them what they need to move forward in their lives, to help themselves and their people.”

Separated into boys and girls, each group set out from St. Joseph’s the same day with the same itinerary, but followed it in opposite directions. Stops included:
A St. Joseph's student favorite; Devil's Tower. Mato Tipilia, more commonly known as Devil’s Tower, is a favorite stop for students!
  • Wounded Knee Museum in Wall, South Dakota.
  • Mato Tipilia, more commonly known as Devil’s Tower, in Wyoming.
  • Greasy Grass, the site of the Battle of Little Big Horn.
  • Fort Buford, where Sitting Bull surrendered in 1881.
  • Medora National Park in North Dakota.
  • On the Slant Village, an early Mandan settlement.
After each stop, students spent quiet time making journal entries about what they saw and learned from these cultural, historical and spiritual sites.

“The trip was amazing!” said Selena. “I participated in my first inipisweat lodge — and really liked seeing all the states we went to. I’d really like to thank St. Joseph’s donors for making this trip possible.”

Back at St. Joseph’s Indian School, the boys’ and girls’ groups convened once again. After a prayer service, they enjoyed a picnic with their families before heading home to enjoy summer break.


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