Clare, St. Joseph's Director of Pastoral Care and Native American Studies

Clare, St. Joseph’s Director of Pastoral Care and Native American Studies

Good afternoon! I am Clare, St. Joseph’s Director of Pastoral Care and Native American Studies.

Spirituality is an important part of our mission at St. Joseph’s Indian School: to educate for life – mind, body, heart and spirit.

Last week, you read LaRayne’s blog post about smudging. In addition to traditional Lakota ceremonies, we provide our students with opportunities to learn about the Catholic faith and, if their families choose, to be baptized.

It’s important to note that students are not required to be Catholic to attend St. Joseph’s, though more than half of them are. When students are enrolled at St. Joseph’s, I interview their parents or guardians to make certain that instruction in the Catholic faith is their wish for their children, and I am in regular communication with them throughout the process.

Many families express gratitude that we can provide this faith dimension for their children. At home, they often live more than 30 miles from the nearest Catholic parish (many lack transportation) and are unable to provide this education for their children.

St. Joseph’s students and their families decide if they want to be baptized or receive Communion.

The Lakota children who chose to be baptized received candles lit from the “Christ light” and were instructed to keep the flame of faith burning brightly throughout their lives.

When we work with children to join the Catholic faith, we use a year-long process (at least) that really helps them to discern what faith means in their lives. We are careful that we are not “doing something to” them, but rather they are “choosing to do something.”

Last spring, we celebrated the initiation of 16 students into the Catholic faith, and four other students joined us at the Eucharistic table for the first time. It was a joy-filled experience, and one of our houseparents remarked that it seemed even more so than previous years.

These 20 students, grades 1 through 5, brought such enthusiasm to the day. “Enthusiasm” means to be filled with God. In their bright smiles, eagerness to come to the water and be sealed with the Spirit and desire to share in the Eucharist, God was indeed visible.

I remember one special moment very clearly: I could see down the row of children who had just received the candles lit from the “Christ light.” They had been instructed to keep the flame of faith burning brightly throughout their lives. The flames danced and were mirrored in their eyes… I prayed that it would always be so.

Though their faces were bright from water, oil and candlelight, I am confident that they shone more completely because of the inner light of faith enkindled in them. What a treasured journey it is to travel alongside of them!


The Lakota students and their parent or guardian decide if they want to be baptized or receive Communion.

Last spring, 20 Lakota (Sioux) students chose to be baptized or receive the Eucharist.

Greetings from Chamberlain, South Dakota!

Fr. Anthony, St. Joseph's Chaplain

Fr. Anthony, St. Joseph’s Chaplain

There was a nip in the air this morning that gave a hint that fall is on the way. We had several warm days last week and got some much needed rain. The rain has helped bring back some color to our grass. A few local cattle seemed to believe the old saying, ‘the grass is greener on the other side.’ Saturday morning, we discovered about a dozen had broken through the fence and were grazing on St. Joseph’s football field!

Last week, students and staff gathered in front of the school building to have a group photo taken in the design of the Morning Star, also found in the Lakota Star Quilt.

St. Joseph’s sports teams are getting ready for the opening of their seasons.  Our sixth, seventh and eighth grade students started volleyball, football and cross country practices this week.

Speaking of the cross country team… The other night I heard voices up at the SCJ Community House where Fr. Bernie and I live. All of a sudden, 15-20 youngsters and several adults came around the corner of the house. It was a bit of a shock since we don’t usually have many visitors!

I found out later that our rec center staff had plotted out a new cross country path that led them up the hill where the house is. The team members not only run around campus but also up and down hills for better training. Some of them stopped for a break at the top of our hill before finishing the practice for the day.

The Lakota students and St. Joseph’s staff members gathered for a Morning Star group picture.

St. Joseph’s students and staff gathered for a special group picture in the shape of the Morning Star.

Some of our runners got in some extra practice over the weekend as they took part in the Chamberlain Youth Triathlon.  They were able to compete on teams or individually.  Two of our teams won first place in their divisions and several individuals also won medals!

Everyone is getting excited as our 38th Annual Powwow draws closer.  Our students have been practicing their dancing and the staff has been going over their notes to see where adjustments can be made to improve the experience for our guests.  Today, some of the student tour guides are having a practice run for the school tours they will provide.

The Lakota children competed in a youth triathlon and did great!

Several St. Joseph’s students participated in a youth triathlon. Several earned places!

The final touches are being put on the new playground and will be dedicated on the morning of the powwow. I hope you can come and enjoy the weekend with us September 12-13! If you still need information, call 1-800-584-9200 or visit

If you cannot attend, please keep us in your prayers that we’ll have nice weather – just like Goldilocks said, ‘not too hot, not too cold, but just right.’

Have a great week! May everyone have a relaxing and enjoyable Labor Day weekend. If you are traveling, please drive safely.

God bless!

Fr. Anthony Kluckman, SCJ



Good afternoon! I am Angela, St. Joseph’s Speech Therapist.

Angela, St. Joseph's Speech Therapist

Angela, St. Joseph’s Speech Therapist

It’s been a busy and productive start to the school year at St. Joseph’s! We started our third week today. To help get the Lakota boys and girls off to a good start, we do some screenings to make sure they are ready to learn.

Last week, the South Dakota School for the Deaf (SDSD) screened our entire school – 208 students – for hearing proficiency. The SDSD team consists of a licensed audiologist and two audiology technicians who screen hearing and complete full evaluations when necessary.

During our screens, two students were identified with ear infections and one with wax build-up posing significant challenges with their hearing. After medical intervention, the students will then be re-screened by our speech-language pathologist to ensure that intervention was successful and they are able to pass their hearing screen. We are so fortunate to be able to offer health services here on campus!

The Lakota students participated in hearing screening.

All St. Joseph’s students had their hearing screened to start the school year.

It is reassuring to know our students have good hearing and can effectively learn and participate in the classroom. We are blessed to have SDSD share their commitment to education and health with St. Joseph’s Indian School each year. Feeling very grateful, we have already penciled them in for the same time next year!

Good afternoon! I am LaRayne, St. Joseph’s Native American Studies Teacher.

LaRayne is St. Joseph's Native American Studies teacher.

LaRayne, St. Joseph’s Native American Studies teacher

Spirituality is an important part of our mission at St. Joseph’s Indian School – to educate for life, mind, body, heart and spirit.

Smudging souls is something that has been done for generations in our tribal cultures. It is a cleansing ritual for our bodies and minds. We take advantage of special days at St. Joseph’s to perform this ritual for our children, staff and mission.

To mark a new beginning and the start of the school year, we smudged before we entered the school on the first day to show that each of us were entering the school with a clean being.  Smudging helps to rid a person or area of unwanted energies that aren’t helpful throughout the day, week, or month. Smudging is also used to bless new areas, items or places so that a fresh start is felt in the heart.

Not only is our school equipped with the ability to smudge, but also St. Joseph’s homes have everything they need for the students can be smudged whenever they feel the need to take part in this very meaningful ceremony.

Many of our students take part in smudging daily at their family’s home or watch a family member take part. The connection the ceremony has to home, culture and family is strong. I often hear our students say, “Oh, that smell reminds me of my Grandma’s house. She does that.”

Smudging is something we do as part of the whole person education to show the students that what they do is a beautiful part of who they are as Lakota/Dakota/Nakota people. It can be very prayerful and medicinal.

Students have the opportunity to smudge at St. Joseph’s whenever they feel they need to.

LaRayne holds out the burning sage for the Lakota (Sioux) students to smudge on the first day of school.

In order to smudge, you need sage or sweetgrass, (we use sage), a fireproof bowl (we use abalone or turtle shells) and a lighter or matches (optional).  Sage balls are made by removing the leaves of the sage stalks and rolling them in your palm to form small spheres.

I made several of these to burn for the 180 students plus 15-20 staff and houseparents who accompanied the kids through the open doors of our school on that exciting (yet sometimes scary!) first day of school.  When the smoke from the burning sage rises, people welcome and brush the smoke over their faces, hearts and bodies in a washing motion to feel the cleansing properties and take in the sweet scent of the sage.

If burning sage is not possible, one can also rub the leaves in the palms of the hands and then rub the hands over one’s body to cleanse. Also, the plant can be rubbed directly onto the body.

Either way, our students and staff are ready to embrace the 2014-15 school year with a connection to Mother Earth, home and school through the meaningful act of smudging.

Pilamayathank you – for helping us provide these important opportunities for the Lakota boys and girls!


Dear Benefactors,

Fr. Anthony shakes hands with members of the Black Lodge Singers after their presentation at St. Joseph’s Indian School.

Everyone shook hands with the singers to thank them for coming and sharing their talents.

It is another beautiful day in the neighborhood here at St. Joseph’s Indian School! Things are off to a good start as we continue to welcome students back on campus. Chamberlain High School starts on Thursday, so our high school students began returning Sunday. Some were back early to take part in practice sessions for volleyball, football and golf. However, everyone was back ahead of school starting. All our high school students are now taking part in an orientation program before the first day of school meet and get to know new houseparents and new students.

The Lakota (Sioux) students in grades 1-8 began their second week of school yesterday and are looking forward to getting their sports season underway. This fall, our St. Joseph’s cross country, volleyball and football teams will play against other schools in the area.

While some recent rain has been beneficial to local farmers, it has slowed the instillation of the new playground down a bit. It is amazing to watch the progress being made! We know the students are chomping at the bit to use the new swings, slides and climbing walls as well as shoot some baskets on the new basketball court.

St. Joseph’s students practiced for powwow along with the Black Lodge Singers.

The Lakota children practiced their powwow dance steps to a live drum group!

Yesterday afternoon we had a presentation by the Black Lodge Singers. It was a wonderful way to learn about Native American heritage for both students and staff. The group – a family – hails from the Pacific Northwest. It was especially exciting for St. Joseph’s students to practice their dancing to a live drum group! With our annual powwow on September 13, it came at a good time.

Our annual powwow is an especially exciting time since many families and friends are on campus. Everyone is welcome to attend our 38th annual powwow with festivities beginning on September 12. You can find more information at, including directions and local accommodations.

I hope each of you has a great week! We’re so grateful for your prayers and support. The Lakota children keep you in prayer at our Sunday liturgy each week.


Fr. Anthony Kluckman, SCJ


It is our first week back at St. Joseph’s Indian School. The Lakota (Sioux) students are getting settled into their new classrooms and new routines. At lunchtime, however,

Claire is a St. Joseph's houseparent


they have been looking longingly at their new playground, which is still a few weeks from completion. They have been checking the blueprints posted outside the school office, marveling at the towers, tunnels and slides. They can hardly wait! In the meantime, they have playtime in another area — walking, talking, and playing basketball.

Most of the physical work on campus happens during the summer time, so it is behind the scenes. The students arrive to see clean homes, new sidewalks and beautiful lawns. Seeing a crew of people doing construction on the playground is a bit of a novelty.

Not finished quite yet, St. Joseph’s new playground is under construction.

The new playground for the Lakota boys and girls is making progress, but not done yet.

It has also proven to be an opportunity for generosity.

At St. Joseph’s, we practice the Circle of Courage values of Belonging, Mastery, Independence and Generosity. These first few weeks of school we focus hard on Belonging—making sure each student feels connected in their home and classrooms, assuaging the inevitable bouts of homesickness, and building a sense of community.

Some of our eighth grade students jumped at the chance to practice other values as well. They used some of the cooking skills they learned in Personal Living Skills class to make treats for the playground construction crew – demonstrating Mastery.

They walked out to the playground site bearing a large container of lemonade and a pan of Rice Krispie treats—in a

The Lakota students practiced Generosity by bringing a snack to the crew working on the playground.

St. Joseph’s students brought cold lemonade and a snack to the crew on a hot day to demonstrate generosity.

show of Independence and Generosity.

The students introduced themselves and got to know the names of the crew, who hail from Omaha, Nebraska. It was a hot afternoon, and the crew was very grateful for a snack and some cold lemonade.

The students were grateful and excited to see the progress being made on the playground. They heard about what it was going to look like when it was finished, and got personal assurances that they were going to have a well-built, top-of-the-line play area.   It was such a good experience for the students that they are planning on visiting again in the upcoming weeks.

As for staff, we were proud of our students, grateful for the hard work of the construction crew, and especially grateful for donors who made this new playground possible. Thank you to everyone —from our grounds crew, to the construction crew, to all benefactors who contributed. Pilamaya!

Claire N.


The Lakota students introduced themselves and thanked the crew working on St. Joseph’s new playground.

Pilamaya – thank you – for working on our playground!

Greetings from St. Joseph’s Indian School!

Fr. Anthony, St. Joseph's Chaplain

Fr. Anthony, St. Joseph’s Chaplain

We are now officially back in session! The Lakota (Sioux) students began arriving on campus about noon Sunday. I walked around campus to greet veterans and newcomers and learned that we are expecting 170 for grades 1-8 and have nearly 50 students attending Chamberlain High School.

When our high school students are back next week, we’ll be operating at full capacity of 220 students!

Some families made an event of bringing their sons and daughters to school.  One checked in and got squared away and then the whole family went fishing on the Missouri River.  Others with more than one child, started at one home and then moved around campus getting everyone the right home.

The first day of school, the Lakota children wore sunglasses – their future’s so bright, they gotta wear shades!

The future’s so bright we’ve gotta wear shades!

St. Joseph’s has 20 homes on campus – 10 boys’ homes and 10 girls’ homes, which are then divided into age groups:

  • Grades 1-3
  • Grades 4-6
  • Grades 7-8
  • Grades 9-12

St. Joseph’s houseparents were waiting to welcome each student and their family to campus. They shared basic information like how to stay in touch once the school year is underway, contact numbers and schedules.

My office is near the health center, so I was able to welcome back some of the early arrivals as they came for the nurses to take their height and weight measurements, do initial eye tests, find cases for their eye glasses and verify any medication the student might take.

St. Joseph’s staff tried to make the experience of coming back to school as joyful and happy as possible – we understand that it’s hard to be away from home. Each student was given a small blue St. Joseph’s backpack containing a few treats and a note of explanation:

  • ‘We are popping with excitement that you are here’ — with a bag of popcorn.
  • ‘It is a joy that you came to St. Joseph’s’ — with an Almond Joy bar.
  • ‘The Great Spirit will save you when you are in trouble’ —explained the Life Savers candy.
  • ‘If you’re feeling blue, just dance and grab a tissue’ — with a pack of Kleenex.
  • ‘If you’re nervous about the first day of school, don’t worry we’ve bean there before’ — with a Beanie Baby toy.

“Welcome to St. Joseph’s, we are glad you are here!”

School started an hour late Monday and students had the opportunity to “smudge” on their way in. This is a Lakota tradition of burning sweet grass and then pulling some of the smoke over you as a blessing and purification.

The Lakota boys and girls loved the Welcome Back to School cards you sent!

Thank you for the Welcome Back to School cards you sent the Lakota children!

As the children entered the school teachers, guidance counselors and staff waited with sun glasses of various descriptions – the theme of the day was ‘the future is so bright you need to wear shades.’ 

So we are off to a flying start!

We are grateful for your generosity that provides the resources and school supplies the children need. We are also grateful to be able to have some fun with the sunglasses and goodies!

We ask for your prayers that our students, teachers, counselors and houseparents – new and returning – may get off to a wonderful start and feel at home.  Be assured of our prayers for you and yours.

Pilamaya thank you – for the kindness you show the Lakota children!

Fr. Anthony Kluckman, SCJ



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