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Our Relationship with St. Joseph's Indian School

st joseph's indian school charity rating

The Akta Lakota Museum & Cultural Center, an educational outreach of St. Joseph's Indian School, is open to the public and is also visited regularly by the 200 Lakota students who attend St. Joseph's.

The Akta Lakota Museum & Cultural Center is an educational outreach of St. Joseph’s Indian School. Located at the heart of the school’s campus in Chamberlain, South Dakota, the museum provides cultural education for the students attending St. Joseph’s, in addition to welcoming more than 20,000 visitors each year. While the museum opened in 1991, St. Joseph’s has been educating and providing care for Native American children since 1927.

Is St. Joseph’s Indian School a Legitimate Charity?

Founded in 1927 by the Congregation of the Priests of the Sacred Heart, St. Joseph’s is fully accredited 501c3 organization dedicated to improving the lives of Lakota (Sioux) children and families.

The school’s mission statement, to partner with Native American families to educate for life mind, body, heart and spirit, is fulfilled by providing care to meet the needs of the whole child.

  • Accredited by the Council on Accreditation, St. Joseph’s residential living program provides a home-away-from-home for Native American children in grades 1-12. Families enroll their children at St. Joseph’s knowing they will be safe and cared for by specially-trained houseparents.
  • The on-campus elementary school provides quality education for children in grades 1-8. St. Joseph’s partners with Chamberlain High School to serve students in grades 9-12. Though they attend public school, St. Joseph’s high school students live on campus with specially-trained houseparents.
  • The Akta Lakota Museum & Cultural Center is just one way St. Joseph’s helps instill cultural awareness and pride in students. Native American Studies classes, an annual powwow and extra-curricular activities like traditional Lakota hand games are just a few of the opportunities students have to live their culture in a contemporary way.

In 2014, St. Joseph’s Indian School appeared on a CNN broadcast of Anderson Cooper 360. Though the report gave an accurate summary of the many ways St. Joseph’s serves Lakota youth, much of the segment was critical of St. Joseph’s administration and fundraising practices. Read St. Joseph’s Indian School CNN response.

Why is St. Joseph’s Indian School not rated by the Better Business Bureau (BBB)?

St. Joseph's Indian School is accredited by the Council on Accreditation, which provides a much more thorough evaluation of the organization than simply reviewing finances. To earn this credential from the Council on Accreditation, St. Joseph’s is evaluated in:

  • Ethical Practice
  • Financial Management
  • Governance
  • Human Resources
  • Performance & Quality Improvement
  • Risk Prevention & Management
  • Best Practices in Child Care

Read more about St. Joseph’s accreditation.

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