Frequently Asked Questions

Where do Red Cloud Indian School students live?

Red Cloud students live across the 5000 square miles of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. They may travel over 100 miles per day just to get to and from school. Red Cloud buses cover over 350,000 miles annually.
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How many children are educated at Red Cloud Indian School?

About 600 Lakota youth attend Red Cloud Indian School annually. There are two elementary schools, Red Cloud Elementary School and Our Lady of Lourdes, which are kindergarten to eighth grade. Red Cloud High School is ninth through twelfth grade and educates about 220 students annually. The graduating class is usually around 40 students, but has been upwards of 50.
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What are the realities for Red Cloud Indian School students?

Life is not easy for those who live on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Oglala Lakota County, which encompasses the reservation, is consistently one of the poorest counties in the nation year after year, with an annual per capita income of $6,286 per family. Without an infrastructure that allows families a viable economy, unemployment rates are about 80 percent.

Despite these staggering statistics, Red Cloud Indian School is trying to make a difference on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. With a combination of schools, The Heritage Center and Gift Shop, our pastoral ministry, and community centers, Red Cloud is providing education, culture, and community in order to empower the Lakota people.
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How does Red Cloud Indian School preserve the children’s Lakota heritage?

Lakota language, culture, spirituality, and history are taught at all age levels. Lakota singing and drumming is offered to high school students, and the Red Cloud High School dance club attends many powwows each year.
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Can I sponsor a child?

We do not have a sponsorship program for one specific child. We do need your help to provide a brighter future for all of the students. We do have the Tiospaye Womime, or Circle of Family Societies, which you can be a part of.
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What is the purpose of Red Cloud Indian School?

In 1888, the respected Lakota leader, Chief Red Cloud, asked the Jesuits to open a school for Lakota youth. The mission of Red Cloud Indian School, a Catholic Institution administered by the Jesuits and the Lakota people, is to develop and grow as a vibrant Church through an education of the mind and spirit that promotes Lakota and Catholic values.

For more than 600 Lakota students each year, Red Cloud Indian School provides an education that opens the doors to a brighter future. The Red Cloud curriculum is tailored to at-risk Native American students who are learning in today’s world while taking pride in their rich heritage.
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Is Red Cloud Indian School an accredited school?

Yes! Red Cloud Indian School is accredited by North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement. As an institution we are constantly reviewing current practices and improving ourselves.
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Is Red Cloud Indian School part of the Catholic church?

Red Cloud Indian School is operated in conjunction with the Jesuits. Catholic and Lakota spirituality classes are taught so that students learn and appreciate both backgrounds.
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Who directs Red Cloud Indian School?

The organization is currently under the leadership of Fr. George Winzenburg, S.J. Fr. George is a beloved leader at our organization, and has worked with Native Americans, Jesuits and laypeople for countless years.
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Where is Red Cloud Indian School located?

Red Cloud is in the southwest corner of South Dakota, on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. The Red Cloud Indian School campus is on Highway 18, just four miles west of the Village of Pine Ridge.
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Can I visit Red Cloud Indian School?

Yes! We welcome visitors who want to learn about our school and the wonderful accomplishments of the Red Cloud students. Please contact us ahead of time if you would like a personal tour by calling our Community Relations Office at 605/867-8211.
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What is there to see while visiting Red Cloud Indian School?

There are many historical and cultural sites to visit at Red Cloud Indian School. The Heritage Center has one of the most extensive collections of Native artwork in the world. It is a venue for Native American artists to showcase their artwork, for Lakota families to sell their crafts, and for the powerful history of the Lakota people to be better understood. On the way to the Our Lady of Lourdes campus in Porcupine is the site of the Wounded Knee massacre of 1890.
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Can I volunteer at Red Cloud Indian School?

Yes, the Red Cloud Volunteer Program is a wonderful way to share your talents with Red Cloud students. The volunteers live in community and fulfill the program’s pillars of building community, sharing faith, doing justice, and living simply. It is a one to three year program in which volunteers are teachers (certification preferred), teacher’s aides, librarians, coaches, bus drivers, and other roles needed in the schools. Red Cloud Volunteers work to grow in communion with God and each other, as well as learn through contact with the traditions and culture of the Lakota people among whom they live.

If you are looking to get involved from another location, we appreciate you sharing the Red Cloud story to your friends, family, and neighbors. The first step is to educate others about life on reservations today and what Red Cloud Indian School does to make such a big difference on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Due to our remote location, Red Cloud is unable to offer weeklong immersion experiences.
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Can I do anything to help Red Cloud Indian School?

Yes, you can help us! Please tell a friend, family member, or neighbor about Red Cloud Indian School by taking a look at this website: www.redcloudschool.org. We are in remote southwest South Dakota, and the more you can share our story, the more people are educated about Red Cloud Indian School students and the obstacles they overcome to accomplish so much.
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What does it cost to educate a child?

It costs us about $7,000 annually to educate each of the 600 Red Cloud students. In addition to the schools, Red Cloud operates The Heritage Center and Gift shop and six Catholic churches across the reservation. In order to run all of these, Red Cloud Indian School must raise $12.5 million annually to keep its doors open and its programs strong.
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How is Red Cloud Indian School funded?

About 90 percent of the Red Cloud Indian School budget is raised by tax-deductible private donations from our friends across the country. Red Cloud Indian School, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, and gifts to Red Cloud are tax-deductible as allowed by law.
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Do you receive federal funding?

Red Cloud Indian School is not a federally funded school, and the school receives no significant federal funding. As stated above, Red Cloud Indian School receives about 90 percent of its funding from private donations.
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Does Red Cloud Indian School receive support from casinos?

No. Red Cloud Indian School is a private institution and therefore does not receive any funds generated by the casino or the Oglala Lakota Tribe. In reality, Prairie Winds, the casino on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, does not bring in a great deal of revenue due to its extremely remote location in southwest South Dakota. Therefore it is not nearly as remunerative as some casinos near large metro areas.
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