Published June 14, 2016
EAGLE BUTTE, SOUTH DAKOTA — The Cheyenne River Youth Project has announced that it is a finalist for ArtPlace America’s National Creative Placemaking Fund. The nonprofit, grassroots youth organization is one of just 80 projects to be selected from a pool of nearly 1,400 applications.
ArtPlace focuses its work on creative placemaking—projects in which art plays an intention and integrated role in place-based community planning and development. According to Julie Garreau, CRYP’s executive director, this focus aligns well with the youth project’s own mission on South Dakota’s remote, 2.8-million-acre Cheyenne River Lakota reservation.
We have always believed strongly in a holistic approach to individual wellness and community development,” Garreau explained. “We also know that solutions to local challenges must be rooted in the local community. They must be culturally appropriate and relevant, and they must take into account that community’s unique challenges and opportunities.”
On the Cheyenne River reservation, young people are growing up in generational poverty, surrounded by the social ills that go along with it—overcrowding, violence, addiction and abuse. CRYP is dedicated to providing these children with access to the vibrant, more secure future they deserve through its innovative and culturally sensitive programming, which engages each individual from preschool age, through high school graduation, and beyond.
In the last two years, CRYP has taken giant strides forward through its free, public Waniyetu Wowapi (Winter Count) Art Park, its revolutionary annual RedCan graffiti jam, and its teen art internship program. It also offers an art studio and much-needed art supplies and equipment at its Cokata Wiconi (Center of Life) teen center. Now, Garreau said, the youth project is ready for its next leap forward.
“We’re expanding our arts programming and ensuring that we make optimal use of our art spaces by creating a Lakota Youth Arts Institute,” she explained. “Local and off-reservation artists will teach classes, including fine art, graffiti art and traditional Lakota art. We’ll also provide training in artist entrepreneurship and business development, financial capability, and social and workforce skills.
“We’re seeking to expand our internship program as well, which will give even more young people the opportunity to participate in a structured arts program and earn a $500 stipend,” she continued. “We’re supporting a creative economy by giving youth critical skills that will empower them to create art and become entrepreneurial, civic-minded adults with a strong ethic and vision—adults who will help end the cycle of poverty and revitalize the Lakota culture.”
ArtPlace worked with 48 peer experts to review the 1,361 initial applications. Those experts reflected both the demographic diversity of the country, as well as the diversity of the arts-and-culture and community-development sectors.
CRYP now will complete a more extensive application and schedule a site visit with a peer expert and an ArtPlace staff member. All the peer experts will come together as an in-person panel to make recommendations this fall for the $10.5 million that ArtPlace will invest in this round of its National Creative Placemaking Fund.
To learn more about the Cheyenne River Youth Project and its programs, and for information about making donations and volunteering, call (605) 964-8200 or visit www.lakotayouth.org. And, to stay up to date on the latest CRYP news and events, follow the youth project on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.