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St. Mary's Mission - Red Lake, MN

March 3rd - 11th, 2018
 2016-2017 Red Lake ABE

Red Lake Reservation

Red Lake Indian Reservation is home to the Red Lake Band of Chippewa. It is one of two closed reservations in United States, meaning that only members of the tribe and their families are allowed to live on the reservation.

St. Mary's Mission School and Church

In 1888, two Benedictine Sisters from the monastery in St. Joseph responded to a request from the people of Red Lake to minister on the reservation. They founded St. Mary's Mission School. Originally a school for girls, St. Mary's was a resource for the natives on the reservation to learn English and expand their faith. Grounded in the Benedictine Values, St. Mary's Mission School today provides pre-school through sixth grade schooling enriched with faith and the Anishinaabe culture for any child living on the Red Lake Reservation.

This ABE provides students with the opportunity to experience the rich culture of the Red Lake Band of Chippewa. Participants will learn that, in reality, they themselves are the immigrants of Minnesota. Students will primarily serve in classrooms at the Mission School helping teachers and students throughout the school day. They will also have a chance to meet with community elders, learn about Anishinaabe culture, and experience how Catholicism and native culture come together at the Mission.

Unemployment and poverty are also issues those living on the Red Lake Reservation face. Students will learn how they affect the present and future of the community at Red Lake.

    • What to Expect:
    • Cost: Each ABE trip costs $425. This covers a variety of expenses, including food, lodging, travel, service fees, donations, and work supplies. Souvenirs and optional excursions are individual expenses.
    • Travel: The group travels from campus to Red Lake by van.
    • Lodging: Participants will stay in the old convent next to the Mission School. Beds and bedding are provided.
    • Food: All meals will be provided by the Mission. 
    • Work: Participants will work at St. Mary's Mission School and help out in the classrooms.
    • Extra Fun: Get to know the culture of the Red Lake Band of Ojibwe, visit with tribal elders, and have the opportunity for mass and prayer at the Mission church.
    • Focus: Intercultural learning and understanding, community, education, learning, and economic issues.


Interested in applying?  Apply here to apply to co-lead, here to apply to participate, and here to apply to advise! 

Please note: $100 due with acceptance of a position!

Any questions about this trip can be directed to Alternative Break Experiences at

ABE Spring Trip

 Packing List

Special Points of Interest:

  • Ojibwe/Anishinaabe Culture
  • Education
  • Cross-Cultural Learning
  • Poverty
  • Community
  • Local Issues
  • Future Volunteer Opportunity
  • Tribal Sovereignty

 From past participants:

"Be ready to be transformed through the beauty and hope of the people of Red Lake." - 2015 participant

"Red Lake is rich in culture and spirit, but it struggles with so many issues stemming from poverty." - 2015 participant  

"I never thought I'd feel so far from home when I was only 3 hours away. The kids have so much love to give and also have much to receive. Red Lake will always have a special place in my heart." - 2016 participant

"My experience at St. Mary's Mission in Red Lake inspired me to live my life for Christ." - 2016 participant

"In the face of incredible amounts of suffering, the people of Red Lake - and especially the children - emulate God's presence through their perpetual joy." - 2016 participant