Native American Cultural Awareness

St. Joseph’s Indian School’s cultural philosophy is to celebrate and embrace our students Native American heritage through the study and practice of language, ceremony, dance and other activities.

Preserving and sharing the Native American culture and tradition is a core part of our mission at St. Joseph’s Indian School. In addition to having our students learn about their Native American culture in our Native American Studies classes, the Akta Lakota Museum & Cultural Center is located on campus for students and visitors alike to broaden their knowledge of the Sioux culture, more specifically known by their dialects — Lakota, Dakota and Nakota.

Our annual powwow, held each September, gives visitors the unique opportunity to learn about our students’ Native American culture and traditions.

Appreciation of the children’s cultural heritage is infused in our daily routine both at school and in the homes. St. Joseph’s Native American Studies classes focus on Lakota language, culture and traditions. We have cultural experts on staff who teach about the Native American culture and also regularly invite Lakota (Sioux) elders and advisors to assist with ceremonies like Inípi, a purification rite, on campus. A variety of educational opportunities are provided for both students and staff alike.

In addition to Native American Studies classes, classroom teachers strive to include the Lakota language and culturally appropriate material in the regular curriculum. Each morning begins with prayer, singing of the flag song, weather announcements and the “Word for the Week” — all in Lakota. An additional cultural activity takes place one Wednesday each month.

Furthermore, St. Joseph's Indian School participates in the WoLakota Project. This project is an educational program that provides an opportunity for cultural understanding and exchange in the classroom. With education and the support of a mentor, all teachers are given the tools to connect with their Native American students culturally, not just through a lesson, but in how a lesson is taught. Sharmel, St. Joseph’s Principal explains, “This program provides a cultural thread in the classroom. With 100% of our students being Native American, it’s particularly important at St. Joseph's that we do everything we can to help students embrace their heritage.”

Students have the opportunity to take part in numerous cultural activities:

  • A dance club teaches traditional Native American dance and songs
  • Powwow competitions, including St. Joseph’s annual powwow held on campus each year
  • Traditional drum group
  • Lakota language competitions, like the Lakota Nation Invitational
  • Hand games
  • Sweat lodge ceremonies (also known as Inípi)
  • Cultural trips
  • And much, much more!

Learn more about our other Native American Youth Programs.