Addition starts at Chamberlain's Akta Lakota museumCHAMBERLAIN — An addition to the Akta Lakota Museum at St. Joseph’s Indian School will benefit alumni and current students alike, according to the school’s executive director.
By: Anna Jauhola, The Daily Republic
CHAMBERLAIN — An addition to the Akta Lakota Museum at St. Joseph’s Indian School will benefit alumni and current students alike, according to the school’s executive director.
Officials, alumni and students recently held a groundbreaking the approximately $3 million museum addition and alumni center on campus.
The Rev. Stephen Huffstetter, executive director at St. Joseph’s, is excited about the projects.
The idea for the project started about four years ago when officials knew they needed more climate-controlled space for the museum. When they decided to build that, they also planned the center.
“We didn’t have a good space for alumni to gather and tell the history of St. Joe’s,” Huffstetter said. “We’re also going to have a Medicine Wheel Garden to promote healing and reconciliation. Some school memories are painful, too.”
The school is working with Split Rock Studios of Minneapolis, which also worked on the McGovern Legacy Museum in Mitchell and the Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre.
The Akta Lakota Museum was originally a school, Huffstetter said. When St. Joseph’s started housing students in family living units, it freed up the main dormitory, which then became the school.
The Akta Lakota Museum opened in the mid-1990s and has been a great resource for the students, alumni and local and area school children ever since, Huffstetter said.
The addition of an alumni center and meditation garden will help link the students to alumni, he said.
“It will give a sense of history of the place,” he said. “They can see how the school developed and be able to honor the alumni who are successful. It’ll give students role models to look up to.”
Huffstetter said the alumni he’s talked to seem excited back and see pictures and remember, and they also want connections. We’ve taken students from all across the state and neighboring states. There’s a sense of some real interest.”
because they’ll have an official place to gather when they visit campus.
School officials have been setting aside money from the operations fund for the last few years to fund the project, he said.
“We waited until we had the money for it,” he said.
The museum will also undergo some renovations while construction ensues. However, that will not interfere with the museum’s hours, Huffstetter said. The museum is open year-round, but receives fewer visitors during the winter months.
Construction is set to begin in a few weeks, and the bulk of the museum renovations will take place during the winter.
“The school’s changed a lot in 85 years,” Huffstetter said. “The alumni are going to come
Officials, alumni and students recently broke ground for a new alumni and historical center at St. Joseph’s Indian School in Chamberlain. From left are David Goings, of Rapid City, who attended from 1983 to 1993 and graduated in 1993 from the high school program; the Rev. Stephen Huffstetter, executive director at St. Joseph’s; and Casmir LeBeau, of Eagle Butte, who attended the school from 1927 to 1932 and graduated from eighth grade in 1932.