You may have seen or read about St. Joseph’s Indian School appearing on the Anderson Cooper 360 broadcast of November 17, 2014. The broadcast showed an accurate summary of how we serve the Lakota (Sioux) children in our care. Unfortunately, the Anderson Cooper 360 show spent the rest of the segment criticizing our work to help Native American youth.

We are always happy to share our work. We are proud to carry on St. Joseph’s mission, which is made possible through your generous gifts. As we do with all our visitors, we gave the crew a tour of our campus homes; the Akta Lakota Museum and Cultural Center; and the recreation center. They had a real opportunity to see the children and many of the programs available to them because of your support.

Much to our disappointment, CNN showed little interest in the Lakota students and were generally dismissive of the programs and services we provide to help them.

We want you to know the facts and assure you our mission to serve is unwavering despite this negative story. We want you to know your decision to support St. Joseph’s Indian School demonstrates sound judgment regardless of how CNN has tried to portray us.

To set the record straight, we took it upon ourselves to fact check their story. Here is what we found:

  • CNN: “Stories of fake students.”

  • FALSE: The stories we share in our marketing information are based on real situations. However, in order to protect the privacy of the children, we do not use their real names in our letters. The photos we use are also real students, but not the photo of the child described in the letter. CNN’s argument rests on saying the stories are made up. We repeatedly explained this to the executive producer, but he refused to listen.

  • CNN: “On the advice of their attorney, the school refused any further comment.”

  • FALSE: Though we did not consent to an on-camera interview, we offered several times, to answer any questions they had in writing. Disappointingly, CNN did not submit any questions. We knew the messages in a taped interview would be taken out of context, exactly as they intentionally did with our mailings.

  • CNN: “St. Joseph’s Indian School continues to rake in a small fortune in donations.” The onscreen graphic showed $122,185,395.

  • FALSE: This misleading figure shown in the story is the sum of our total assets. This includes a school building for grades 1-8; twenty-one homes where the children live; the acreage our campus resides on; vehicles; investment funds for our gift annuitants and other items.

Apart from what we try to prudently save in the event our fundraising efforts fall short, we have been blessed in recent years to receive enough donations to run our on-campus programs; fund outreach programs on three reservations and start funding an endowment in the hopes that one day we can reduce fundraising costs. This will allow us to spend even more on our important programs for the Lakota (Sioux) people. We owe this all to you and thank God for your support.

We are always happy to share who we are and what we do. We are proud of our mission. We are proud of the people we serve. We are proud of the collaborative relationship we have with you our generous benefactors who make everything possible. We are so thankful for your support and ask for your understanding as we try to set the record straight from this most unfortunate and misleading event.

As Drew Griffin himself pointed out at the end of the segment, “the fact is that the money is being used for the right reasons … over two hundred Native American children are going to this boarding school, they seem happy, well-fed and housed.”

Thank you in advance for your continued support of our important mission. If you have questions about St. Joseph’s, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

By Phone: 1-800-341-2235
Email: saintjosephs@stjo.org