Spiritual Formation

Grounded in Catholic and Lakota traditions, the Red Cloud Indian School Spiritual Formation Program goes beyond academics to instill a sense of self-esteem and a ray of hope for the future of the students served. The program helps students to move beyond what is often a very bleak way of thinking, toward dreaming limitless dreams for a future of leadership and confidence, and the opportunity to become inspirations for Lakota men and women: people of confidence, competence and commitment who in turn become agents of social change.

The basics

Students describe Red Cloud Indian School as feeling “like family,” and as “a safe place to learn.”

Listen carefully, and they’ll go on to talk about the hope they have come to feel in their hearts, and about “dreaming bigger dreams.” They learn to feel empathy for others, share with others about their own challenges and work with others in solidarity, all in the spirit of service. The Spiritual Formation Program is a large part of what sets a Red Cloud education apart from others: It is the education of both the mind and heart that gives the students the school serves the courage to become the Lakota leaders of tomorrow, today.

  • By learning and practicing a spirit of service, Catholic and Lakota spiritual values and traditions, and the importance of building community with those around them, the students are able to develop a strong sense of self, rooted in a proud and ethical identity, that launches them on a path toward achieving their own dreams while serving others around them. 
  • Ten Red Cloud teaching staff are dedicated solely to this endeavor. 

A unique position

The students Red Cloud serves often seem to be surrounded by negative voices that whisper to them, “You will always be poor and unemployed.” Such situations require a focus and purposeful action to counter—and ultimately eliminate—negativities.

  • Red Cloud’s unique Spiritual Formation Program sets the institution apart from other Native and non-Native schools across the country, teaching important lessons that guide Red Cloud students to success at school and beyond. 
  • The focus for Red Cloud’s lower elementary children is to expose them to spiritual practices from both the Lakota and Catholic traditions, while the upper elementary students participate in various types of meditative prayer and journal writing each day. Each student has the opportunity to choose their own way of praying, from Native sweats to Masses and readings of Gospel scriptures, to more traditional forms of prayer. 
  • Older elementary students provide assistance to classroom teachers at the lower levels. 

These activities, whether at the giving or receiving end, help to instill a spirit of service in even the youngest children that Red Cloud serves. The Red Cloud High School Spiritual Formation Department is built around service learning. By empowering students with the skills and knowledge necessary to work toward a solution, not only does the school foster an optimistic and productive mentality, but also introduces high school students to activities and skills they may not otherwise cultivate.

Retreats allow each grade level to reflect upon its individual beliefs and values, as well as spark students to achieve a sense of community amongst their peers. Students are provided the opportunity to empathize with those who might be in similar or worse contexts as them, as well as imagine ways of being in—and building—community together.


Red Cloud students’ experiences help them discover the hope of their God-given potentials, evidenced by the litany of awards and honors announced at each year’s graduation ceremonies. Examples include:

  • Student volunteers organize and conduct fall and spring blood drives with United Blood Services from Rapid City to benefit patients of local hospitals, donating more than 40 units of blood each semester. 
  • The senior class has a day of service in the fall, working at a variety of places around campus, on the reservation and in the parishes. 
  • Freshmen and sophomores provide care and upkeep for the school’s sweatlodge, ensuring that it is prepared for the monthly voluntary sweats. 
  • The senior Faith and Justice class does service work on a weekly basis as aides to teachers in the elementary school.
  • Through our Spiritual Formation program, the opportunity to attend all-school masses, prayer services, and Stations of the Cross (during Lent) are provided. This is in addition to our off-campus retreats for every high school grade level (two retreats for seniors).
  • Inikaǧapi (sweats) and Lakota prayer ceremonies are also held throughout the year. 
  • The faculty meets periodically to pray together, learn more about Ignatian spirituality and share their journeys together in the light of their personal beliefs. 

Red Cloud continues to focus on a long-term goal of creating Lakota leaders of tomorrow: graduates who will bring their professional skills back to the reservation after college in order to change the challenging context from which they have come. The institution strongly beliefs that the Spiritual Formation Program is integral to achieving this outcome. 

Help champion this initiative

Contribute to the success of this initiative by making a gift online or calling our Advancement Office at 605/867-1105 ext. 300 to learn more about how your family or foundation can partner with us.