Programs and Services for Native American Youth

Circle of Care Model

St. Joseph’s Indian School uses an approach called the Circle of Care while caring for every child who calls our campus home. The Circle of Care model seeks to measure student growth not in the linear Western European way but through the relational worldview appropriate to their culture. The Circle of Care illustrates our approach to educate for life – mind, body, heart and spirit.

The Circle of Care includes six core components: Education, Residential Life, Culture, Health and Wellness, Spirituality and Counseling Services. Other programs exist as part of our wraparound services and include the Lakota Language program, Family Integration, and our many Outreach programs.

Children attending St. Joseph’s benefit from individualized care plans that follow nationally approved and accredited techniques. Friends who support St. Joseph’s Native American programs help provide for every aspect of each child’s physical, emotional, spiritual and educational needs.

In general, Native Americans tend to adhere to a relational worldview, which has its roots in tribal culture. This worldview is intuitive and imaginative and sees life and time as a circle moving through cycles. At St. Joseph’s Indian School, we embrace Catholic teaching alongside Native American spirituality and this relational worldview. Our wraparound environment honors each student as an individual with specific needs met through the combined efforts of the student, their thiyóšpaye, our supporters and every staff member on campus.

For nearly 100 years, Lakota (Sioux) families from South Dakota and surrounding states reach out to St. Joseph’s seeking Native American services for the children in their care. Parents, grandparents, guardians and caregivers know St. Joseph’s provides more than just a safe home … from cultural integration in daily living, to specialized counseling services and Native American assistance programs, we provide Native American youth the care they need to become the very best they can be.

Education Program

Quality Education for Native American Youth

Children attending St. Joseph’s benefit from individualized care plans that follow nationally approved and accredited techniques. Native American youth in grades one through eight attend classes at St. Joseph’s Elementary School on campus.

After eighth grade, students can enroll in St. Joseph’s High School program. With the capacity to care for 50 Lakota (Sioux) high school students, St. Joseph’s partners with Chamberlain High School to give our students the opportunity to participate in many sports, fine arts and extra-curricular activities. Although they attend the local public high school, they still live on St. Joseph’s campus with our specially trained houseparents.

Learn more about our Education program.

Residential Living Program

Native American Youth Residential Living Program

St. Joseph’s Indian School provides a nationally-accredited home-away-from-home for Native American youth in grades one through twelve. Native American families bring their children to St. Joseph’s knowing they will be safe, loved and cared for in every way.

There are no dorms at St. Joseph’s. The Native American children in our care live in one of our 21 campus homes with two specially-trained houseparents. They live and play together as any family would. The boys and girls learn life skills from personal health and home finances to communication and teamwork.

Learn more about our Residential Living program.

Cultural Awareness Program

Native American Culture

Preserving and sharing the Lakota (Sioux) culture is an important part of all our Native American programs at St. Joseph’s. Appreciation of our students’ cultural heritage is infused in our daily routine — both at school and in the homes.

Our Native American youth enjoy learning about their culture in a myriad of ways through our annual powwow, Native American Studies classes, cultural ceremonies, our drum group and hand games team.

Learn more about our Cultural Awareness program.

Physical Health Program

Native American Health Care - Body

St. Joseph’s health center staff works tirelessly to fulfill all the physical health needs of our students. St. Joseph’s has five full-time nurses on staff and also works with healthcare providers from the local hospital. A physician is on campus to see students 4 days per week. For something more serious than common childhood illnesses, like x-rays or blood tests, students are taken to the local hospital.

All staff who work directly with our Native American youth — like teachers, houseparents and counselors — are also trained to deal with minor health problems and are certified in basic First Aid and CPR.

Learn more about our Physical Health program.

Religious Education Program

Native American Religious Education

Though St. Joseph’s Indian School is affiliated with the Catholic Church through the Priests of the Sacred Heart, we welcome children of all faiths, recognizing the dignity of each human person created in God’s image. Native American youth who attend our school are not required to be Catholic, and we respect each child’s individual family beliefs.

Learn more about our Religious Education program.

Mental Health Program

Native American Health Care - Mind

In addition to seeing that the Native American youth in our care are healthy physically, our master's level mental health professionals work to meet the mental health needs of our students. Each student has a counselor who works one-on-one with them and their family.

Our clinical services team helps youngsters — and their families — deal with everything from homesickness and growing pains to drug addiction … and everything in between.

Learn more about our Mental Health program.

Lakota Language Program

The Lakota language is proudly sang out as Native American youth participate in a drum group.

St. Joseph’s recognizes and understands the importance of the Lakota language to the culture of the Native American youth we serve.

At St. Joseph’s, children in grades one through eight attend a regular Native American Studies class where they learn the Lakota language. Additionally, our classroom teachers strive to include the Lakota language and culturally appropriate material in their regular curriculum.

Learn more about our Lakota Language program.

Family Integration Program

Family Integration plays an important role in the Native American student's lives.

St. Joseph’s Indian School is intentional about engaging and including our Native American students’ families through personal visits, effective listening, needs identification and strategizing ways to meet unmet needs by connecting families to available resources, both at St. Joseph’s and in their local communities.

Our staff is intentional about reaching out to our students’ families throughout the year via phone, email and postal mail, and take every possible opportunity to have face-to-face contact.

Learn more about our Family Integration program.

Outreach and Other Programs

Native American Youth Outreach

Unlike many schools, St. Joseph’s Indian School does not sit idle during the summer months. The Native American youth we serve do not have regular classes; however, a growing number remain on campus to live in our summer homes and take part in our summer activities.

Additional Native American programs throughout the summer months include a Summer Day Camp for local Native American youth, a traveling Bookmobile, a women’s shelter and an adolescent care center on a local reservation.

Learn more about our Outreach and Other programs.