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.
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:
“The trip was amazing!” said Selena. “I participated in my first inipi — sweat 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.