Life with the Lakota

Just posted to our Web site, a look at a Jesuit mission on the Lakota Sioux reservation in South Dakota:

If you are looking for hope in South Dakota, you do not look at numbers and percents and totals. Among the native Lakota people, social issues like alcohol, drug abuse and teen suicide rack up some depressing figures. The way down is fast and easy; climbing back up takes drive and help. If you are looking for hope in South Dakota, you look to people and listen to their stories.


An impressive place to find these people and their stories is at St. Francis Mission. In 1881, Chief Two Strike invited Jesuits here to start a school. A large building went up quickly, financed by St. Katherine Drexel. Churches and other schools followed. St. Francis Mission today includes seven parishes, schools at various levels, a radio station, a museum and cultural center, a dental clinic and two recovery programs. All of these serve the 20,000 Lakota Sioux of the Rosebud Reservation.

The recovery programs address a huge need, as alcohol and drug abuse create much suffering on the reservation. Geraldine Provencial is the director of one of these programs, the Icimani Center, where addicts and their families come to face their personal stories with honesty. The work is tough, but Provencial and her staff are up to the challenge.
Provencial recalls the time in 2008 when she and two others from the Rosebud Reservation went to the Betty Ford Institute in California: “At the very beginning we were going out to see how the program was structured…. I didn’t understand what I was headed for. It was a great experience. I wished I’d had that when I was young.”

Read the rest, from former associate editor Ed Schmidt, S.J., here.

Tim Reidy


Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
J Cosgrove
5 years 7 months ago
I believe the Jesuits also run some Catholic schools in the big Res, or the Navajo reservation.. I am/was a big fan of Tony HIllerman and read all his books. In that journey through the lives of the Navajo and other tribes in the Southwest, I came across some interesting information about the Navajo.  Namely, that those who went to Catholic schools were much more likely to succeed in life.  Apparently, it was not just the education but the values they learned in the schools.


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