Published on November 22, 2012 by Amy
Red Cloud Indian School is a private, Roman Catholic high school in Pine Ridge, South Dakota. It is located in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rapid City and serves Oglala Lakota Native American children on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.
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The school was founded in 1888 as Holy Rosary Mission. The Jesuits and Sisters of St. Francis of Penance and Christian Charity founded the institution at the request of Chief Red Cloud. Once the school had been approved, the construction of the main mission building began. All of the bricks for the building were made from local clay and lime on the grounds of what is today Red Cloud Indian School’s Pine Ridge campus. It was the only two-story building in the area. The four-school K-12 school system, was renamed Red Cloud in 1969.
Later that year, the first classes began and quickly grew to more than 100 students. Students at the school were divided into three classes: one for all younger students attending, another for older girls and lastly one for older boys. The older students spent half their day learning reading, writing and arithmetic and the other half performing domestic duties to keep the mission running. The young women often worked in the kitchen and laundry rooms, while the young men spent their time in the wood and metal shops, or farming the land.
Red Cloud High School first began classes in 1937. Five students graduated from the school in 1942, with Oryal Cuny as the salutatorian and Lyle Clifford as the valedictorian. Classes became integrated, the boarding parts of the school were closed and the farms associated with the school turned into football fields, fieldhouses, parking lots and more. As enrollment grew, a second kindergarten through eighth grade campus, Our Lady of Lourdes, was opened in Porcupine, about 30 minutes from the original Pine Ridge campus.
In 1969, Holy Rosary Mission was officially renamed Red Cloud Indian School, both as a token of respect for the man whose work had made it possible to found the school and as part of a program of re-identification meant to demonstrate to the world that Red Cloud was not meant to be an organization of cultural imperialism, but rather the product of a lasting bond between groups of two separate cultures who wanted to enhance the best parts of both world to serve the people of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.