Cheyenne River Youth Project will launch new Lakota Culture Internship this week

Cheyenne River Youth Project will launch new Lakota Culture Internship this week

The Cheyenne River Youth Project is launching a new track in its nationally recognized teen internship program. A pilot project made possible with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Lakota Culture Internship will begin on Wednesday (June 15, 2022) under the direction of Youth Programs Assistant Danielle Reynolds.

The seven-week internship is the sixth to be offered at CRYP’s Čhokáta Wičhóni (Center of Life) teen center. Called Okȟólakičhiye (Coming Together As Friends) in the Lakota language, it joins the youth project’s established internship tracks in Art, Native Wellness, Native Food Sovereignty, Social Enterprise, and Indigenous Foods & Cooking.

“We are accepting 18 young people ages 15-18 into this first cohort of Lakota Culture interns,” said Julie Garreau, executive director. “We worked closely with Lakota elders in our community to build the curriculum, which will give teens valuable opportunities to learn from our elders, culture bearers, and language preservers from across the Oceti Sakowin. We’re all excited to get started.”

The curriculum is designed to cover a broad range of topics, from Lakota Nation relatives throughout the natural world to traditional arts, cultural practices, and sacred sites. The first week will provide an introduction to the internship and share why connection to culture is vital for strong, healthy individuals and communities. It also will incorporate the Lakota language from Day 1.

“In recent years, we’ve made a very intentional shift here at CRYP to incorporate the Lakota language in everything we do,” Garreau said. “We’ve changed our logo to include our Lakota name, which is Wakpá Wašté Tȟéča Okȟólakičhiye. We’re giving our programs Lakota names as well, and we work hard to ensure that relevant Lakota values ​​and life ways are reflected in each initiative. This new internship continues that effort, but on a much larger scale.”

In the second week, interns will learn about the concept of viewing materials and resources like water and land as relatives. In weeks three and four, they will focus on plant relatives, healing medicines, animal relatives, and cultural practices such as making a spirit plate.

Week five is devoted to specific arts and cultural skills, such as quill work, moccasin making, beadwork, ledger art, parfleche, drum making, ribbon skirts, star quilts, traditional foods, songs, and more. In week six, the interns will shift to ceremonies and their protocols.

“Week seven is our opportunity to discuss sacred sites and even visit a few, including Pipestone National Monument,” Garreau said. “The interns will learn the sites’ history and their significance to us as Lakota people.” This knowledge will allow them to deepen the connection they have with these places when they visit.”

When CRYP began its teen internship program with the Native Food Severeignty track in 2013, it graduated 10 interns. As of January 2022, that number reached 1,526.

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, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.