Last Saturday I met two Native American students ( Lakota – Sioux Tribe) and Fr. Stephen Huffstetter, Director of the St. Joseph’s Indian School in Chamberlain, South Dakota It was a great experience.
St. Joseph’s Indian School is a residential education facility for Native American children. Students are never charged tuition. Admission is based on their need for a safe home, and a quality education. Students are not accepted or denied based on tribal affiliation or blood degree. Most students are Lakota (Sioux).
Some of the children have been neglected or abused, so the family living program is a chance for them to develop a healthy relationship with dependable adults. For many children, this is their first time with a stable, secure family.
The campus has 19 student homes with 12 students living in each home with two house parents. Students participate in household chores, including cooking and laundry, learning the skills necessary to live independently as an adult.
St. Joseph's has developed a "Circle of Life" home curriculum with four components: social skills, spiritual / moral development, peer helping and recreation. The curriculum was designed in alignment with the four Lakota values of respect, wisdom, generosity and courage. It also embraces Christian values in character development.
While attending St. Joseph’s Indian School, Native American youth receive loving care and a well-rounded education. The youngest students are six years old. The elementary school on campus is for students in grades 1 – 8.
The high school students – still part of St. Joseph’s program – attend Chamberlain Public High School, where they participate in numerous groups, clubs and are an active part of the Chamberlain community.
After high school graduation, the school offers scholarships to Native American students seeking higher education.
Though the school is affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church, students are not required to be Catholic to attend. Many different denominations are represented, including Episcopalian, other Christian Faiths and traditional Lakota spirituality. Some students have no religious background.
The school does not receive regular federal funding or funding from the Catholic Church.
The school depends solely on charitable contributions from friends. Thanks to the kindness of people, St. Joseph’s is able to independently raise the funds necessary for the annual operating budget.
HistoryFr. Henry Hogebach, SCJ came to the United States in 1923 in search of funding for the established mission of the Congregation of the Priests of the Sacred Heart, SCJs. When he saw the conditions Native American people were living in, he made the decision to stay in South Dakota and open a school for Native American children. Today, Fr. Hogebach’s dream endures.
To find out more about the St. Joseph’s Indian School and how you can help, go to their website
or call 1-800-584-9200
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