St. Joseph's Indian School – Overview


St. Joseph’s Indian School
Overview- Sharing Love, Hope, Opportunity.

Out here, on the plains of South Dakota, life is hard. Life on the reservation is even more difficult.

It’s a tragic cycle of poverty and need, passed on to the latest generation by once-proud ancestors who have nearly lost the battle to retain their dignity, their culture, and most importantly, their families.

For the Lakota (Sioux) children immersed in this life, there is hope—the hope that is found here at St. Joseph’s Indian School.

St. Joseph’s is a chance at a new life. Here, new cycles of living are formed. This is a place where the love of new, extended families is felt every day. Where life’s lessons are taught not only in the classroom, but also on the playing field and around the dinner table.

This is St. Joseph’s Indian School in Chamberlain, South Dakota.

Here, along the eastern bank of the majestic Missouri River, near the Lower Brule and Crow Creek reservations, over 200 school-aged Lakota boys and girls have a chance at starting a new life.

The foundation of this new life is FAMILY. From this rock-solid base, we begin to rebuild young lives, piece by piece.

For those who we are blessed to serve, no tuition is ever charged. Admission is based on need, and friends of the school from all across the country provide support.

Thanks to these generous financial gifts, we are able to offer the absolute essentials that feed a child’s most urgent needs for love and acceptance.

Gifts of clothing, household items and school supplies also demonstrate the love of St. Joseph’s caring supporters.

The Family Living Program at St. Joseph’s gives our Lakota boys and girls a chance to develop relationships with dependable adults. This form of ‘family togetherness’ is a huge success with proven results, as grades improve dramatically due to the loving attention the children receive.

We also have additional homes for students attending public high school in Chamberlain.

St. Joseph’s provides year-round homes to children who have no place to go, giving them a safe and secure place to live during the summer months.

As part of our ongoing support, we also provide special day camps for children living on the reservation. These fun-filled days feature reading groups, crafts, and a variety of recreational and educational activities.

We also furnish a fully-equipped bookmobile to distribute free reading material to reservation-communities.

During the school year, first through eighth grade students spend much of their time in the classroom. Here, our qualified teachers emphasize the basics and beyond—with special focus on reading, writing and math, along with integrating science, art, Lakota studies and sports.

For students who need even more attention, special education and counseling are available.

For successful high school graduates, we are proud to assist those who qualify with financial grants for higher education. Generous donations make these scholarships possible. They are an investment that pays a lifetime of dividends, helping to secure a viable future for those who come from the tragedy often experienced in reservation life.

Our goal is to prepare students for the challenges of the world, with a quality education and skills to secure a job and build a career.

These goals are what drive our professional staff, and it is the true measure of our mission’s success.

Building character that leads to long-term success has deep roots in the classroom, and also in matters of faith. St. Joseph’s accepts children of all faiths and respects each individual’s beliefs and religious practices. For children who come from the Catholic faith, we offer additional instruction and sacramental preparation.

While providing for a healthy spiritual environment, we also look out for the physical needs of our students. Here, professional medical care- including regular check-ups, immunizations, dental and eye care is provided for everyone.

For issues needing special emotional healing, professional counseling services are available. Here, children and their families receive assistance with relationship issues, drug and alcohol counseling, special classes in parenting skills, emotional issues and career counseling.

As part of our continued connection to our extended family, our ongoing support is always available to former students and graduates.

Beyond the bustle of the school day, there are many activities for our young people, including arts and crafts, sports and recreation and special cultural events showcasing the unique and beautiful talents of the Lakota people.




Robert Dunfee