The Cheyenne River Youth Project reported today that 212 community members attended its recent 10th annual Harvest Festival. Made possible with support from the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe’s Indian Child Welfare program, Honor the Earth, J.R. Albert Foundation, Northwest Area Foundation, NoVo Foundation and Vadon Foundation, the Harvest Festival was open free to the public.
The drive-thru homemade meal on Oct. 14 featured traditional and locally grown foods, including produce from CRYP’s Winyan Toka Win Garden (pictured above). These included bison pot roast with veggies, eggplant parmesan, cabbage rolls, green beans, Three Sisters (corn, squash, beans) stir fry, stuffing and biscuits. In addition, the CRYP team served beef roasts from Ducheneaux Beef, which also is based on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation.
“The Harvest Festival Dinner marks the end of our growing season, and it’s the signature celebration in our Native Food Sovereignty program,” said Jerica Widow, CRYP’s programs manager. “It gives us an opportunity to come together as a community, share food, and also demonstrate that it’s possible to produce healthy, delicious and culturally relevant foods right here on Cheyenne River.”
Native Food Sovereignty is one of the nonprofit organization’s core initiatives. According to Julie Garrreau, CRYP’s executive director, it’s a vital one for the Cheyenne River community — and for native communities across the country.
“When you live in a food desert, it’s challenging and expensive to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables, especially if you’re looking for non-GMO, organic foods,” Garreau said. “Community and family gardens can provide fresh produce for a large part of the year, and this can even extend into the winter months if we freeze some of it or preserve it to be shelf-stable.
“Along the way, fresh fruits and vegetables act as medicine,” she continued. “They help us fight diabetes and other debilitating chronic conditions related to poor nutrition. In addition, growing food connects us to our ancestors, Mother Earth and Wólakȟota, our sacred way of life. In so many ways, Native Food Sovereignty lifts up, empowers and strengthens our community.”
The thriving Winyan Toka Win Garden lies at the heart of CRYP’s Native Food Sovereignty programming. Not only does it provide fresh produce for meals and gifts, it also serves as an outdoor classroom for The Main’s Garden Club, the Native Food Sovereignty Teen Internship, and community classes and workshops, it also serves as this valuable conduit for connecting with Lakota culture.
“We work hard to incorporate traditional Lakota values and life ways into everything we do, including our Native Food Sovereignty programs and events,” Garreau explained. “When we live Wólakȟota, we thrive.”
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.
The Cheyenne River Youth Project is dedicated to giving our Lakota youth and families access to the culturally relevant, enriching, and enduring opportunities we need to build stronger, healthier communities and a more vibrant future together.