The Cheyenne River Youth Project has begun its Summer Internship Program at its Keya Cafe to give CRST youth an opportunity to learn about business, entrepreneurship and basic professional skills by helping operate the organization’s new Keya Cafe.

The four interns, Eva Fielder, Bryanna Clown, Zenobia Lawrence and Tori Jensen, are all Cheyenne River tribal members and began the two-week internship on Monday, June 9th, and will rotate duties ranging from learning coffee barista skills, menu development, handling money and cash reconciliation, and customer service skills.

“We try to give them a wide range of responsibilities so that each of them will understand the enormous amount of work that goes into running a cafe,” says Jerri LaPlante, Keya Cafe’s manager. “Our goal is to give them a variety of work skills and experience to put on their resumes, or possibly start their own business.”

For CRYP, the internships are a win-win proposition for the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe.

“From the beginning of CRYP our mission has been to create an environment of self-empowerment and ‘can do’ for our kids in the community,” says Julie Garreau, executive director. “The internships we offer provide more than doing simple tasks or ‘make work’ assignments. The intention is to give them the tools and, more importantly, the idea that they, too, can create and operate a business or enterprise of their own some day.”

Kim Tilsen-Brave Heart, an enrolled member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe and business owner, is assisting CRYP with the internship by facilitating professional development skills and leadership strategies for the young women in the program.

“We cover the fundamentals of basic customer service, professional expectations, telephone etiquette, appreciative inquiry, work plan development and effective communication strategies,” says Tilsen-Brave Heart.  “In all of my trainings, I talk about the importance of self-empowerment and viewing the world from a positive perspective rather than a negative one. These are crucial skills for successful Native entrepreneurs in cultivating and building sustainable economic development in Indian Country.”

Tilsen-Brave Heart is the owner of Painted Skye Consulting, a 100 percent Native-owned, woman-owned consulting firm. She is also the co-founder of the South Dakota Indian Business Alliance and has been selected as Native American Instructor of the SBA e200 Executive Management Training for the State of South Dakota. She is also part owner of Native American Natural Foods and the Tanka Bar Family.

Additionally, certified paramedic Joe Melligan, of Ft. Pierre, SD, also assists in the programs, training interns in first aid, CPR and safety issues in the workplace.

“Especially in rural communities where emergency services can be limited, it’s important for everyone to know how to recognize the signs in a cardiac event and know how to do CPR,” says Melligan, an professional instructor for both the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association. “Effective CPR can mean the difference between life and death in an emergency situation. These young people now have an important life-saving skill that they can use for the rest of their lives.”

Founded in 1988, the Cheyenne River Youth Project is dedicated to providing the youth of the Cheyenne River reservation with access to a vibrant and secure future through a variety of culturally sensitive and enduring programs, projects and facilities, ensuring strong, self-sufficient families and communities. Today, CRYP provides a wide variety of programs and services to the community, covering nearly 3 million acres in  South Dakota. To learn more about CRYP, visit

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