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St. Joe Indian school fundraising draws criticism

CHAMBERLAIN (AP) -- St. Joseph's Indian School in the southeastern South Dakota town of Chamberlain is catching more flak than dreams with a fundraising effort using dream catchers that are made in China.

CHAMBERLAIN (AP) - St. Joseph's Indian School in the southeastern South Dakota town of Chamberlain is catching more flak than dreams with a fundraising effort using dream catchers that are made in China.

Dream catchers are an item of Lakota culture. The webbed hoops are made to filter dreams - trapping bad ones and allowing good ones to pass through. Retired art teacher Robert Blunk has questioned why the school doesn't have its Lakota students make the dream catchers rather than buying them from overseas, the Capital Journal reported.

"This is very sad," Blunk said. "I think there are better ways to raise funds."

The school, which is funded fully through donations, acknowledges Blunk's concerns but says his suggestion is not practical.

St. Joseph's each year sends out about 30 million pieces of mail, according to spokeswoman Jona Ohm. As many as 4 million mailings last year included the dream catcher, each of which costs the school only 29 cents, she said.

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The school has tried to find a company in South Dakota that can mass-produce dream catchers.

"We are still looking, but we haven't been able to find anyone that can produce that kind of volume," Ohm said.

School records show that it spent about $15 million in fundraising efforts during the 2013 fiscal year and received about $51 million in contributions.

 

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