Residential Living Program

St. Joseph’s Indian School’s residential philosophy is to develop collaborative relationships with students and families using a strength-based, developmental approach that teaches life skills and fosters lifelong learning through the values of belonging, mastery, independence and generosity.

St. Joseph’s Indian School has two Residential Living Programs on campus — the elementary program and the high school program. Both are tailored to meet the needs of the Lakota (Sioux) students in our care.

Elementary Program

St. Joseph’s Indian School provides a nationally-accredited home-away-from-home for Native American children in grades one through 12. Native American families bring youngsters to St. Joseph’s knowing their children will be safe, loved and cared for in every way.

Some children may only spend a year or two at St. Joseph’s. However, for others, St. Joseph’s may be home seven days a week for years. Thanks to gifts from friends around the globe, St. Joseph’s has been lending a helping hand since 1927.

There are no dorms at St. Joseph’s. Children live in one of our 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.

Beyond these life skills, children learn how to embrace their culture and spirituality in everyday living. Family prayers, Lakota traditions and more are routine parts of daily life.

High School Program

St. Joseph's 2018 graduates pose in their cap and gowns. These students are part of St. Joseph's High School program.

Less than 50% of South Dakota’s Native American students graduate from high school, according to the Native American Student Achievement Advisory Council.

To begin addressing this problem, St. Joseph’s began testing a high school initiative in 1976. Today, a collaborative partnership exists between St. Joseph’s Indian School and Chamberlain High School.

After eighth grade graduation, St. Joseph’s students may choose to pursue our high school program.

Young adults complete an application and interview process to ensure they are open to accepting the opportunities and guidance they will be given through St. Joseph’s High School Program. Once accepted, students live on St. Joseph’s campus in residential homes — not dorms. Each home is run by two specially-trained houseparents. Just like St. Joseph’s younger children, our high school students are expected to be participants in family living.

There are responsibilities from preparing a meal to completing homework independently. Students have the freedom they need to grow, learn and thrive; however, they also abide by rules and expectations intended to protect them.

Unlike elementary age children, high school students do not attend school on campus. Instead, St. Joseph’s high school students attend the local public high school. We work closely with Chamberlain High School to ensure each of our high school students has the same opportunity to thrive in a public school setting.

High school homes are extremely busy with students working part-time jobs after school, participating in extra-curricular activities and preparing for higher education.

Learn more about our other Native American Youth Programs.