At 6 p.m. on Thursday, April 3, the Cheyenne River Youth Project® will welcome Candace and Karen Ducheneaux of the Mni organization to its Cokata Wiconi teen center on East Lincoln Street for a “Clean Water Campaign Dinner” in the Keya Cafe. The dinner is open free to the public.

Mni is a grassroots, not-for-profit, indigenous-led collaboration to restore the water cycle using eco-friendly rainwater harvesting techniques. During the campaign dinner, the guest speakers will discuss important water-related issues such as fluoride poisoning and the Keystone XL pipeline.

“We’ve worked closely with the Mni organization to host speakers and video documentaries that help educate our community on their clean water rights,” said Julie Garreau, CRYP’s executive director. “We agree with its assessment that these rights are central to our sovereignty and to the sustainability of our communities.”

In addition, CRYP and Mni will launch the Clean Water Campaign Poster Contest, which will feature adult and youth divisions. The grand prize in the adult division, for ages 17 and up, will be $100; in the youth division, for ages 16 and under, the winning poster will earn a new iPod.

“We’re hoping to engage Cheyenne River community members of all ages,” Garreau said. “After all, the future of our communities depend on access to clean water. Without that access, without a healthy watershed, we cannot thrive. Defending our rights and protecting our water supply for current and future generations are moral imperatives.”

Mni is a global affiliate of Village Earth, a Colorado-based not-for-profit organization. David Bartecchi, Village Earth’s director, noted that this affiliation gives Mni a global reach — and access to numerous resources that enhance “social and political empowerment, community self-reliance and self-determination.” This support has been enthusiastically received by Mni advocates, who will use it to foster water restoration efforts on tribal lands across the continent. “I hope we can work together to promote the importance of sound watershed restoration and management, and the leadership role that indigenous communities are playing in fighting global climate change,” Bartecchi said.

Mni is moving full-speed ahead with several water restoration projects on the Cheyenne River Lakota homelands in South Dakota. One summer project will bring intertribal volunteers to the Tatanka Wakpala Model Sustainability Community camp, on the Cheyenne River reservation’s east end, to learn hands-on sustainable water management skills that they will be able to implement in their own communities. In addition, Mni is building partnerships with other tribal peoples who recognize that a healthy water cycle is critical to planetary balance and human survival, and who are ready to initiate water restoration in their own territories.

For more information about Mni, visit

The Cheyenne River Youth Project, founded in 1988, is a grassroots, not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing the youth of the Cheyenne River reservation with access to a vibrant and secure future through a wide variety of culturally sensitive and enduring programs, projects and facilities that ensure strong, self-sufficient families and communities.