Life after St. Joseph’s Indian School


“When you know who you are; when your mission is clear and you burn with the inner fire of unbreakable will; no cold can touch your heart; no deluge can dampen your purpose. You know that you are alive.”
— Chief Seattle

Where do the Lakota (Sioux) students go after they graduate? What are they doing now?

We are so proud of our alumni! St. Joseph’s students have made careers in:

  • Healthcare
  • Education
  • Counseling
  • Serving their country in the Armed Forces
  • Fulltime parenting and dedication to their children

Our alumni are truly making a difference — thanks to the HOPE you have provided with your love, concern and generosity. Keep reading to learn more about their achievements!

College Updates:

Julee Richards, former student named 2016 Distinguished Alumnus

St. Joseph’s is honored to continue our support of our alumni who are currently pursuing higher education.

Through the 2016-2017 school year, St. Joseph’s was able to gift $139,168 in scholarships to alumni, family of alumni and the children of employees who are enrolled members of South Dakota tribes.

Thanks to your generosity and support, we have alumni pursuing the following degrees:

  • Haskell Indian Nations University
    • Ronald is pursuing a major in Business Administration.
    • Jalynn is working towards a Bachelor of Arts in Communications.
  • Oglala Lakota Community College
    • Heather is completing courses towards a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration.
    • Jeannie is on track to graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Social Work in June of 2019.
    • Rochelle is taking courses to fulfill her Bachelor of Science in Natural Science-Biology.
    • Anna is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts major in Business Administration.
    • Steve is working towards a Bachelor’s degree in Human Services.
    • Isaiah is studying Lakota Studies and Tribal Law.
  • Institute of American Indian Arts
    • Katie is pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts.
  • Institute of Production and Recording
    • Erika is finishing up her final courses to achieve a Bachelor’s degree in Digital Video and Production.
  • University of South Dakota
    • Mia is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice.
    • Christian is working towards a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science.
  • Dakota State University
    • Andrew is completing his general studies.
  • Lake Area Technical Institute
    • Miranda is pursuing her Business Associate’s in Marketing and Management.
  • Ihanktonwan Community College
    • Courtney is working toward a Bachelor of Science in Business Management.
  • Black Hills State University
    • Gabriel is pursuing a degree in Human Behavior.
    • Samantha is working towards a Bachelor of Science in Economics/Finance and American Indian Studies.
  • Northwest Iowa Community College
    • D’Kera graduated in May of 2016 as a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) and is now pursuing her Registered Nurse licensure.
    • Andrea graduated in May of 2015 with her LPN as is now on track to graduate with her Registered Nursing licensure.
  • Sitting Bull College
    • Brendan is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Physical Education.
    • Stormy is working towards an Associate of Science degree in Criminal Justice.
  • National American University
    • Anna is pursuing a degree in Business Administration and Retail Management.
    • Janice is working towards a degree in Paralegal Studies.
  • Sinte Gleska University
    • Kristen is working toward a Bachelor of Arts in Childhood Education.
  • Lower Brule Community College
    • Audrey is working toward an Associate Degree in Human Services.
    • Natasha is working on a Associate of Arts in Arts and Science.
    • Dawnee is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Human Services.
    • Regina is working towards an Associate of Arts in Arts and Science.
  • Northeastern State University
    • Sheena is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration.
  • Fort Lewis College
    • Jeremy is working towards a Bachelor of Arts in Exercise Sciences.
  • Southeast Technical Institute
    • Lawrence is pursuing a degree in Law Enforcement Science.
  • United Tribes Technical College
    • Corey is working towards an Associate of Science in Culinary Arts and Food Services.
    • Tennille is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration.
    • Rueben is taking classes in pursuit of an Associate of Arts in Business Administration.

St. Joseph’s names 2018 Distinguished Alumnus

Jeanette Germaine DeCoteau has received the 2018 Distinguished Alumna Award.
Jeanette Germaine DeCoteau has received the 2018 Distinguished Alumna Award.

St. Joseph’s Indian School is pleased to announce Jeanette Germaine DeCoteau has received the 2018 Distinguished Alumna Award. Jeanette attended St. Joseph’s from 1947 – 1954, graduating with the eighth grade class of 1954. She was born in Belcourt, North Dakota and now lives in Washington.

After earning her GED, she attended Highline Community College in Seattle and obtained her degree to become a Registered Nurse. In 1969, she graduated from the University of Washington Medex Program, receiving her PA-C as a Physician Assistant in Seattle.

Jeanette was nominated by her daughter Jennifer.

“She continues to live a life of grace and faith, serving Native people and honoring her people,” Jennifer said in her nomination letter. “I have nominated her for the Distinguished Alumni Award for her selfless acts of dedication through her work as a nurse and physician assistant. Thank you for considering her for this award. She is a national treasure.”

In the course of her career, Jeanette has served others in many ways:

  • Chairperson for Casey Family Programs, an organization that works to influence long-lasting improvements to the safety and success of children, families and the communities where they live.
  • Native American representative for Native students in the Federal Way School District in Washington State.
  • Helped start the Tahoma Indian Center in Tacoma, Washington with Betty Sampson and Joan Staples Morin. This center is dedicated to our brothers and sisters on the streets, and is operational today.
  • Physician assistant student preceptor for the last 10 years through the University of Washington and Heritage College.
  • Washington State Physician Assistant of the Year at the University of Washington in 2000.
  • National Indian Health Board Award for improving the health care of American Indians and Alaska Natives.
  • Member of the National Indian Women’s Health Steering Committee.
  • Active member of St. Leo’s Parish Kateri Tekawitha Circle in Tacoma, Washington.

St. Joseph’s first Distinguished Alumnus Award winner was Sr. Madeline Le Compte, OSBS, recognized in 2006.

Distinguished Alumnus award winners have:

  • Attended St. Joseph’s for at least two years.
  • Made a positive contribution to others, their culture or their community.
  • Participated in activities that have made a difference to the well-being of others.
  • Acted in service to others.

Law School Grad named 2017 Distinguished Alumna

Jessica, a St. Joseph’s alumna and law school graduate, accepts her recognition at our 2017 8th grade graduation celebration.
Andy, St. Joseph’s Alumni Liaison, and Mike, St. Joseph’s President, presented Jessica with the Distinguished Alumna Award.

St. Joseph’s Indian School is pleased to announce Jessica (Kennedy) Four Bear, an enrolled member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, has received the 2017 Distinguished Alumna Award. Jessica graduated eighth grade with St. Joseph’s Class of 1994. After a year in St. Joseph’s High School Program, she returned to Eagle Butte to finish high school, where she graduated in 1998.

“A year after I graduated from high school, I had a baby,” said Jessica. “After my daughter got older, I continued my education at Western Dakota Tech from 2006-2008 and received my associates degree in Paralegal Studies. I knew I wanted to own a business and I wanted to help my community. During this time, I kept helping and volunteering wherever I could. I then returned to the reservation and went to Oglala Lakota College from 2008-2012 and graduated with my Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management.”

After earning her degrees, Jessica started a consulting business, writing grants for businesses and new projects on the reservation. She was accepted into the University of South Dakota School of Law in 2014 and graduated On May 6, 2017.

“Becoming a lawyer has taught me to stand up for myself, my people and the youth!” said Jessica. She chose St. Joseph’s Indian School because she struggled with bullies in elementary school.

“It seemed like every single day I was getting bullied or was having an encounter with a bully,” she said. “It was very difficult to focus on school work or try to join any extracurricular activities. From the moment I arrived at St. Joseph’s Indian School, my life was changed forever. I never worried about bullies and was able to be myself and the person I am on the inside. I learned to respect and love myself, I gained confidence and self-esteem.”

But, Jessica acknowledged she had to learn to deal with the bullies, not just avoid them.

“When you’re done with school, you’re never going to get away from bullies. They’re everywhere — in the bank, at the grocery store — it doesn’t matter where you go, they’re going to be there and you have to FACE them. You can’t be scared. You can’t walk with your head down, shy. You have to stand up tall … you are a Native American … you wear your tribe with honor!”

St. Joseph’s helped prepare her to be successful, she said … but so did the bullies.

“I needed those bullies because I needed to overcome them. Nothing will stop me from continuing my dreams! Remember, you don’t have to change yourself when you go back to your reservation … If you go home, I encourage you to not change yourself just to fit in with everyone else. You don’t have to drink, you don’t have to do drugs, and you don’t have to contemplate suicide or get into unhealthy relationships. You don’t have to do that. Stick to what St. Joseph’s taught you.”

St. Joseph’s Indian School, an apostolate of the Congregation of the Priests of the Sacred Heart, partners with Native American children and families to educate for life — mind, body, heart and spirit.


St. Joseph’s first Distinguished Alumnus Award winner was Sr. Madeline Le Compte, OSBS, recognized in 2006.

Distinguished Alumnus award winners have:

  • Attended St. Joseph’s for at least two years.
  • Made a positive contribution to others, their culture or their community.
  • Participated in activities that have made a difference to the well-being of others.
  • Acted in service to others.

Grassroots advocate named 2016 Distinguished Alumnus

St. Joseph’s Indian School is proud to recognize Julee Richards as our 2016 Distinguished Alumnus Award winner. Julee will be accepting her award during St. Joseph’s 8th Grade Graduation Ceremony in Our Lady of the Sioux Chapel Friday, May 20.

“My candidate should receive the Distinguished Alumni Award because of her involvement in her community!” stated her nomination, submitted by Andy, St. Joseph’s Alumni Associate.

Richards discovered her daughter was involved in methamphetamines in 2013. She didn’t wait for someone to help her, but tackled this problem head on … even to the point of having a gun pointed at her. Richards is the founder of ‘Mothers Against Meth Alliance,’ which is a grassroots organization fighting meth on the Pine Ridge Reservation.

Julee Richards founded the Mothers Against Meth Alliance to fight meth on the Pine Ridge Reservation.

“She is a true hero in my book,” said Andy.

Julee attended St. Joseph’s from 1979 to 1987, when she completed eighth grade. After eighth grade graduation, Julee went on to graduate from Pine Ridge High School in 1991.

In 2013, Julee decided to stand up and fight against meth after learning one of her daughters was addicted to the dangerous drug. “By the time I came out of denial and realized we had a problem, she was already a full-blown meth addict. She was already into the meth world … there was nowhere to turn for help.”

Instead of taking a back seat, Richards decided to take a stand and form a group — so the Mothers Against Meth Alliance was born. In addition to hosting meth awareness presentations for youth on the reservation and coordinating outreach and awareness events, she also developed a Mothers Against Meth Alliance Facebook page. The social media page answers questions and responds to calls for help from families with loved ones who are addicted to meth.

“I’m going to fight this with everything I have because it’s such a strong, evil spirit,” Richards said. “And I’m going to get other people involved so it’s a big, community, reservation-wide effort, so we can all get involved. Because that’s what it’s going to take to overcome, to beat this meth.”

Julee currently lives in Pine Ridge, South Dakota and is a member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe. She celebrates life with her four children and three grandbabies.

“Julee is working hard to fight the drug problem on the Pine Ridge Reservation. She started a group — Mothers Against Meth Alliance — and they work to keep the youth on the reservation safe. With little money of her own, she still opens her doors to those in need.” — Jean, Registrar/Program Evaluation Associate

St. Joseph’s first Distinguished Alumnus Award winner was Sr. Madeline Le Compte, OSBS, recognized in 2006.

Distinguished Alumnus award winners have:

  • Attended St. Joseph’s for at least two years.
  • Made a positive contribution to others, their culture or their community.
  • Participated in activities that have made a difference to the well-being of others.
  • Acted in service to others.

Deacon, former staff person named 2015 Distinguished Alumnus

Deacon Harold Condon accepts his award from Mary Jane, St. Joseph’s Alumni Coordinator and Mike, St. Joseph’s President.

St. Joseph’s Indian School is proud to recognize Deacon Harold Condon as our 2015 Distinguished Alumnus Award winner. He accepted his award during the Baptism, First Communion and Confirmation liturgy held at Our Lady of the Sioux Chapel on Sunday, April 12, where Harold shared in the celebration of Mass with Fr. Anthony Kluckman, SCJ.

“I learned a lot at St. Joseph’s Indian School,” he said. “But it was the spirituality, the faith I learned that gave me the strength to get through many things in my life. I watched my son serve two tours in Iraq. I lost a son to cancer. Through these times, it was my strength of faith that brought me through.”

Harold attended St. Joseph’s from August 1961 through May 1964, graduating eighth grade with the Class of 1964. After leaving St. Joseph’s, he attended high school at St. Paul’s Mission then graduated from Cheyenne Eagle Butte High School in 1968.

Harold went on to receive his degree in accounting from Rutherford College in 1972.

In the mid 1970’s Harold and his wife Geraldine moved to Chamberlain, South Dakota. He again found himself at St. Joseph’s Indian School, serving as St. Joseph’s Chief Finance Officer. Harold and his wife also helped in the boys’ dorm, working with boys in grades 5-8. Within a couple years, he started St. Joseph’s Lakota Studies program and, through that class, constructed St. Joseph’s first sweat lodge. Harold and Geraldine were instrumental in launching St. Joseph’s high school program and worked in one of our first high school boys’ homes.

Since leaving St. Joseph’s, Harold was ordained a Deacon in the Catholic Church and has helped minister in parishes on the Cheyenne River Reservation, in Pine Ridge and Parmelee. He has also held several offices for his tribe, including consultant and accountant.

Today, Harold still works for his tribe in addition to his 30 years in service as a Deacon in the Catholic Church. Harold, his wife Geraldine and their grandson live in St. Francis, South Dakota.


St. Joseph’s first Distinguished Alumnus Award winner was Sr. Madeline Le Compte, OSBS, recognized in 2006.

Distinguished Alumnus award winners have:

  • Attended St. Joseph’s for at least two years.
  • Made a positive contribution to others, their culture or their community.
  • Participated in activities that have made a difference to the well-being of others.
  • Acted in service to others.

St. Joseph’s names 2014 Distinguished Alumnus

Sam, St. Joseph’s 2014 Distinguished Alumnus.

Sam Dupris, an enrolled member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, has been named St. Joseph’s 2014 Distinguished Alumnus.

Sam attended St. Joseph’s Indian School from 1938-1941 with his four siblings. After completing high school in Eagle Butte, South Dakota, Sam served in the US Army. He was wounded in the line of duty and honorably discharged. Sam was awarded the Purple Heart for his service.

Sam attended flight school in Texas and spent several years crop dusting. After perfecting his flight skills over the fields of the Mississippi Delta, Sam flew in Southeast Asia for Air America, which was secretly operated by the CIA.

Over the next 25 years of his flying career with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Sam worked his way through the ranks to become a Captain and Chief Pilot. He is the first and only Native American to be employed as an FAA pilot.

Sam is the first Native American to serve as a pilot with the Federal Aviation Administration.

Described as a pathfinder and role model for Native Americans, Sam used his role as a pilot to encourage Native American children to set their goals high. In recognition of his many accomplishments, the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe proclaimed August 18 Sam Dupris Day in 2001, the same year he was inducted into the South Dakota Aviation Hall of Fame. He was inducted into the South Dakota Hall of Fame in 2010.

Sam and his wife currently live in Bloomington, Minnesota.


St. Joseph’s first Distinguished Alumnus Award winner was Sr. Madeline Le Compte, OSBS, recognized in 2006.

Distinguished Alumnus award winners have:

  • Attended St. Joseph’s for at least two years.
  • Made a positive contribution to others, their culture or their community.
  • Participated in activities that have made a difference to the well-being of others.
  • Acted in service to others.

St. Joseph’s Indian School presents 8th Annual Distinguished Alumnus Award

Fr. Steve and Mary Jane presented Del with his award.

Lakota artist Del Iron Cloud recently received St. Joseph’s 2013 Distinguished Alumni Award. He attended St. Joseph’s Indian School from 1958-1960.

He addressed St. Joseph’s students after a special mass to honor our 2013 graduates.

“Always remember to look back and thank the people who have helped you,” Iron Cloud said. “From the time we’re babies and take our first steps, there’s always someone waiting to catch us. That’s still true.”

Iron Cloud also presented each senior and eighth grade graduate with a hand-painted watercolor feather in honor of their achievements so far.

Del presented each Lakota graduate with a hand-painted water color feather in honor of their achievement.

An accomplished artist, Del was born in Little Eagle, South Dakota, on the Standing Rock Reservation. At age five, he created his first “masterpiece.” Unfortunately, the canvas was his grandmother’s kitchen door, and a bucket of water and a sponge quickly replaced the crayons in his hands. Read his biography!

Today, several pieces of Del’s work can be found on St. Joseph’s campus and in the Akta Lakota Museum & Cultural Center.

Iron Cloud continues to support St. Joseph’s programs through his involvement with our annual Tiyospaye Banquet held each year in conjunction with our powwow celebration.


St. Joseph’s first Distinguished Alumnus Award winner was Sr. Madeline Le Compte, OSBS, recognized in 2006.

Distinguished Alumnus award winners have:

  • Attended St. Joseph’s for at least two years.
  • Made a positive contribution to others, their culture or their community.
  • Participated in activities that have made a difference to the well-being of others.
  • Acted in service to others.

St. Joseph’s Indian School presents 7th Annual Distinguished Alumni Awards

Orville and Casimir were recently presented with St. Joseph’s 2012 Distinguished Alumni Awards during Mass in Our Lady of the Sioux Chapel.

In 1927, they were among the first Lakota (Sioux) students at the school.

Casimir was one of St. Joseph’s first students in 1927.

“There were 21 boys and 25 girls that first year,” recalls Casimir, who came from the Eagle Butte area along with several siblings and cousins.

Casimir graduated from eighth grade at St. Joseph’s Indian School in 1932.

“There were two boys and two girls who went to town to take the examination,” he remembered. “We used the county curriculum, so we had to take the county’s test.”

After eighth grade, Casimir attended St. Francis Indian School and Haskell Indian Nations University. He worked for the Bureau of Indian Affairs in the upper Midwest before enlisting in the Coast Guard in 1940.

After retiring in 1981, he and his wife returned to Eagle Butte, South Dakota, where Casimir has authored six books.

“Your upbringing and your religion will keep you on the straight and narrow,” he advised students. “Do not forget them. Also remember you will need a skill for the future. If you can’t be the best in your field, you still need to be good. Never give up.”

Orville’s son and daughter-in-law accepted the Distinguished Alumnus Award on his behalf.

Orville attended St. Joseph’s Indian School from 1927-1929, along with two brothers and two sisters. He finished school in Eagle Butte, South Dakota, and then joined the Navy. After proudly finishing his tour as a sailor, he returned to South Dakota. He worked as a cook at Flandreau Indian School where he met his future wife.

The pair moved to Milbank, South Dakota, where Orville worked in a bakery for 40 years while they raised their five children. Orville’s son Bud accepted the Distinguished Alumnus Award on his father’s behalf.

“My father is a tremendous man,” said Bud. “If he were here, he would tell you that faith, love and lifelong learning will be the foundation of your life. He is very appreciative of this award and I’m honored to take it back to him.”


St. Joseph’s first Distinguished Alumnus Award winner was Sr. Madeline Le Compte, OSBS, recognized in 2006.

Distinguished Alumnus award winners have:

  • Attended St. Joseph’s for at least two years.
  • Made a positive contribution to others, their culture or their community.
  • Participated in activities that have made a difference to the well-being of others.
  • Acted in service to others.

Native American graduate honored

“I really enjoyed the time I spent at St. Joseph’s Indian School.”

“He was my protector, coach and mentor,” Rose says of Andy. The two have remained in touch since Rose’s days at St. Joseph’s Indian School.”

“We had plenty to do: sports, hiking the chalk hills, camping, fun with all the other kids … we were always busy,” said Rose, recipient of St. Joseph’s 2011 Distinguished Alumnus award.”

“I want to give back in some way now, because I know what St. Joseph’s helped me accomplish.”

From first through sixth grade, St. Joseph’s Indian School was a home-away-from-home for Rose and her siblings.

“When I received the news that I had been selected for the 2011 Distinguished Alumnus award, I was speechless,” said Rose. “I had the biggest smile on my face and a tear of joy in my eye. St. Joseph’s was a big plus in my life. We had a lot of discipline, a lot of good teaching and we had a roof over our heads, food, school and definitely church everything we needed to grow and become successful.”

Rose had been in touch with St. Joseph’s off and on over the years, but about a year ago decided it was time to do more.

She started by calling Andy, who had coached basketball and supervised in the boys dorm during her time at St. Joseph’s. Over the years, they stayed in touch, and Andy became a mentor to Rose.

Rose hands out Christmas gifts to girls in the Stevens Home. Rose and her coworkers at SD DENR provided gifts for boys and girls in six of St. Joseph’s homes.

“He always made me feel protected,” she said. “When I was at St. Joseph’s, but even after I left.”

Andy introduced Rose to Mary Jane, St. Joseph’s Alumni Coordinator, who helped make arrangements for Rose to speak to St. Joseph’s current students and share her life experiences and encouragement.

“It’s important for these kids to know they’re not alone, that someone else has been where they are,” said Rose. “As a former student, I know what it’s like to be away from home and how hard it can be to go back home.

Everyone has those day-to-day struggles, but you get up, dust yourself off and you work through them. You want to give up but you reach inside, reach for your inner strength to keep going, hold your head high and tell yourself, ‘you can do this.’ It’s so important to keep making good choices and always remember you have a choice with what you do with your life so get out there and make a difference!”

In addition to these encouraging words, Rose rallied her coworkers at the South Dakota Department of Environment & Natural Resources to provide Christmas gifts for six of St. Joseph’s homes.

“It’s wonderful to have former students like Rose return to St. Joseph’s,” said Fr. Steve, St. Joseph’s Director. “We’re grateful that Rose is willing to share what she’s learned and encourage our students to always do their best. We’re proud to honor her as our 2011 Distinguished Alumna.”


St. Joseph’s first Distinguished Alumnus Award winner was Sr. Madeline Le Compte, OSBS, recognized in 2006.

Distinguished Alumnus award winners have:

  • Attended St. Joseph’s for at least two years.
  • Made a positive contribution to others, their culture or their community.
  • Participated in activities that have made a difference to the well-being of others.
  • Acted in service to others.

St. Joseph’s 2010 Distinguished Alumnus

“Having an education will shape the rest of your life …”

Tammy, an eighth-grade graduate and former employee of St. Joseph’s Indian School, was presented with the the 2010 Distinguished Alumnus Award.

Tammy was recognized at the 2010 Graduation Mass held at Our Lady of the Sioux Chapel, which also honored St. Joseph’s seniors and eighth-grade Lakota graduates.

Tammy came to St. Joseph’s Indian School as a second-grade student in 1977 and was an eighth-grade graduate in 1984. She also spent her sophomore year with St. Joseph’s high school program.

Tammy is remembered as being a leader in class, a positive role model for others and a responsible, conscientious student.

Tammy graduated from Lower Brule High School as valedictorian of the class of 1988. Afterward, she attended Presentation College for a short time before returning to St. Joseph’s to work as a houseparent.

Mike, Executive Director of Child Services and Fr. Steve present Tammy with her award.

After experiencing St. Joseph’s from “the other side of the table,” Tammy began working toward her degree to become a Registered Nurse and graduated from Dakota Wesleyan University in 2002. Tammy is currently studying to complete her Bachelor’s Degree.

“Always continue your education,” she urged students. “Having an education will shape the rest of your life, and you’ll never, ever go wrong getting a degree.”

In addition to attending school, Tammy is employed with Indian Health Service. She also serves as an on-call nurse and manages an apartment building with her husband.


St. Joseph’s first Distinguished Alumnus Award winner was Sr. Madeline Le Compte, OSBS, recognized in 2006.

Distinguished Alumnus award winners have:

  • Attended St. Joseph’s for at least two years.
  • Made a positive contribution to others, their culture or their community.
  • Participated in activities that have made a difference to the well-being of others.
  • Acted in service to others.

St. Joseph’s Indian School names 2009 Distinguished Alumnus

Michael, Chairman of the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe, was presented with the 2009 Distinguished Alumni Award.

Michael attended St. Joseph’s from 1953-1957 and was a member of the first eighth-grade class to graduate in Our Lady of the Sioux Chapel. He earned his high school diploma from Immaculate Conception High School in Stephan, South Dakota. After high school, he attended the University of South Dakota and Northern State University’s School of Commerce in Aberdeen.

“Attending school at St. Joseph’s left me with two very important things,” he said in a short address to students. “First, the will, strength and desire to succeed. Second and probably more important, is gratitude to my Creator, His Holy Spirit and to Jesus Christ. To have done anything in my life that I can accredit to my own capacity without recognizing the role the Creator played in it would be folly.”

He served as Chairman of the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe, where he worked to meet the needs of his community since 1972. He was a member of the Great Plains Tribal Chairman’s Association and served on the Regional Tribal Business Advisory Council.

He passed away in April 2015

Michael was honored on May 16, 2009 during St. Joseph’s Graduation Liturgy, along with Rozlyn and St. Joseph’s 17 eighth-grade graduates.


St. Joseph’s first Distinguished Alumnus Award winner was Sr. Madeline Le Compte, OSBS, recognized in 2006.

Distinguished Alumnus award winners have:

  • Attended St. Joseph’s for at least two years.
  • Made a positive contribution to others, their culture or their community.
  • Participated in activities that have made a difference to the well-being of others.
  • Acted in service to others.

St. Joseph’s Indian School names 2008 Distinguished Alumnus

Mike received his award from Mike, Executive Director of Child Services and Fr. Steve.

Mike of Rapid City, South Dakota was recently received St. Joseph’s Indian School’s 2008 Distinguished Alumni Award.

The award was presented at this year’s eighth-grade graduation ceremony, held on May 23, 2008 in Chamberlain.

Mike attended St. Joseph’s Indian School from 1972 — 1980, then went on to attend Dupree High School and later received a degree in art from Dakota Wesleyan University in Mitchell, South Dakota.

Mike, known as “Mingo” during his school days has always been dedicated to youth.

He volunteered at the local YMCA in high school and worked with summer youth programs at St. Joseph’s Indian School during his college years.

Throughout his career, Mike has continued to focus on the needs of the younger generation, working in juvenile corrections, as Director of the YMCA Youth Outreach Program in Rapid City, South Dakota, and at youth facilities in Oregon and Utah.

Today, Mike is a Recreation Specialist and Chemical Dependency Counselor at Sioux San Hospital in Rapid City. He lives in Rapid City with his wife and four children.

St. Joseph’s Distinguished Alumni Award recognizes former students who have made contributions to their culture or community by participating in activities that have a positive impact on the well-being of others.

Nominations were made by St. Joseph’s faculty, staff and other alumni. A plaque bearing Mike’s name will be displayed in the Sacred Hoop Tiyospaye Center on St. Joseph’s campus.

St. Joseph’s Indian School, a residential education facility for Native American children, helps students develop the skills necessary to live a balanced and healthy lifestyle through:

  • education,
  • group-home living,
  • the development and appreciation of spirituality and culture,
  • the promotion of personal growth and self-esteem.

St. Joseph’s first Distinguished Alumnus Award winner was Sr. Madeline Le Compte, OSBS, recognized in 2006.

Distinguished Alumnus award winners have:

  • Attended St. Joseph’s for at least two years.
  • Made a positive contribution to others, their culture or their community.
  • Participated in activities that have made a difference to the well-being of others.
  • Acted in service to others.

St. Joseph’s names 2007 Distinguished Alumna

Teresa Felicia-Estes of Lower Brule was recently named St. Joseph’s Indian School’s Distinguished Alumna for 2007.

The award recognizes former students who have contributed to their community or culture by participating in activities that have a positive impact on the well-being of others. Nominations were made by St. Joseph’s staff and other alumni.

As a graduate of St. Joseph’s eighth grade class of 1980, Felicia-Estes went on to become one of the first St. Joseph’s students to graduate from Chamberlain High School in 1984. After high school, she attended Nettleton College in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, but ventured north to the University of Alaska where she completed her degree.

After spending several years in Alaska, Felicia-Estes returned to South Dakota in 1992. There, she spearheaded the establishment of a Boys & Girls Club in the Lower Brule community.

For the past 16 years, she has been employed with the Bureau of Indian Affairs as a Realty Specialist working in areas of land trust responsibility. She also serves as a board member for Habitat for Humanity.

Today, Teresa resides in Lower Brule with her husband Ben, who is also a St. Joseph’s alumnus. Teresa is an enrolled member of the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe and enjoys volunteering in her community.


St. Joseph’s first Distinguished Alumnus Award winner was Sr. Madeline Le Compte, OSBS, recognized in 2006.

Distinguished Alumnus award winners have:

  • Attended St. Joseph’s for at least two years.
  • Made a positive contribution to others, their culture or their community.
  • Participated in activities that have made a difference to the well-being of others.
  • Acted in service to others.

Sr. Madeline named St. Joseph’s first Distinguished Alumna

Alumna Sr. Madeleine LeCompte and Fr. Stephen

Sr. Madeleine LeCompte, OSBS was named St. Joseph’s Indian School’s First Distinguished Alumna in May 2006.

The award recognizes former students who have contributed to their community or culture by participating in activities that have a positive impact on the well-being of others. Nominations were made by St. Joseph’s staff and other alumni.

Sr. Madeleine attended St. Joseph’s Indian School from 1929-1937 along with her siblings. Sr. Madeline graduated eighth grade in 1938. She finished high school at St. Francis Mission School in May 1941 and entered the Oblate Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament at St. Sylvester’s Convent in Marty, South Dakota.

In a 2006 interview, Sr. Madeleine recalled St. Joseph’s fondly:

“St. Joseph’s provided for all our needs. The sisters encouraged each of us to use the talents we were given. I was good at music, and I remember helping the sisters teach songs to the entire group of students. I’m very grateful for those years.”

She served in Marty, Rapid City and on the Cheyenne River Reservation in South Dakota. She also served four terms on St. Joseph’s Board of Directors, from May 1997 to January 2009. Sr. Madeline passed away in December 2012.


Distinguished Alumnus award winners have:

  • Attended St. Joseph’s for at least two years.
  • Made a positive contribution to others, their culture or their community.
  • Participated in activities that have made a difference to the well-being of others.
  • Acted in service to others.

In Other News:

We are honored to welcome JaTonne back to campus!

JaTonne attended St. Joseph’s Indian School from fifth grade through his senior year. He graduated from Chamberlain High School with St. Joseph’s program in 2015 and went on to complete the Audio Engineering Certificate Program at the Conservatory of Recording Arts and Sciences in Tempe, Arizona. He recently came back to school as one of our Artists in Residence, working with the third and fourth grade students. “It was very cool to come back and have my first teaching experience with two of my former teachers,” he explained.


Todd attended St. Joseph’s from 1977 – 1979. He graduated from Crow Creek High School in 1988. He is working on St. Joseph’s facilities crew as a carpenter. Todd has five children: Tyrell, Tylynn, Tylecia, Tynice, and Todd Jr.

What Todd liked most about St. Joseph’s was everything. “I didn’t have one bad moment while I was here,” he said.

Advice to current students: He would like to tell the students of today: “Stay in school and graduate.”


Alumni contact center

Andy at his desk
Did you attend St. Joseph’s Indian School?
Let us know!

If you, or someone you know, attended St. Joseph’s Indian School, we’d love to hear from you!

There are several options … just pick the one right for you.

  1. Email us: You can include where you are now and what you’re doing, or simply say hi!
  2. Mail us: Send a note to our Alumni Liaison at:
    St. Joseph’s Indian School
    Attn: Andy Lepkowski
    P.O. Box 89
    Chamberlain, SD  57325.
  3. Call us: Call us toll-free at 1-800-341-2235 and ask to speak with Andy in Alumni Relations.

We would love to hear from you! As alumni, we count on you to help better our programs and services. We look forward to your questions, comments and suggestions!

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